The other day, the weight of my world hit me hard. A recent accident permanently disabled my arm and I’m finally dealing with long-time back and sleep issues. Actually being present and feeling the emotions (without relying on eating disorder behaviors) of these life issues is both exhausting and frustrating.
Finally feeling the emotions
For example, yesterday I came home from my third doctor’s appointment in two days feeling utterly overwhelmed. I went into the bathroom and sat on the toilet and put my head in my hands. The old me would have immediately numbed the pain by using a behavior. Yet, I just sat with the emotions.
And soon enough, the tears came. Sobs followed. And the crumble to the floor ensued. As I was lying on the floor in my own self-pity, it occurred to me – I was feeling my present emotion. I was in it.
And although the present emotion was not a good one, I was in it fully, and that is a gift.
I have felt more emotions, both welcomed and unwelcomed, in the past two years than the entire sixteen I spent in my disorder.
And this isn’t just me. I have a friend who suffered from eating disorders for a long time as well. She had a similar struggle with emotions and even started watching “Daniel the Tiger” (a kid’s show that models after “Mr. Rodger’s Neighborhood“) with her daughter to learn what feelings are.
Eating disorders rob you of feeling. They rob you of simple and complex emotions that make life dynamic.
And yes, I have been dealt a tough hand lately, but the capability to feel the emotions, deal with the pain in a healthy way, and move on with a clear and present mind has been the gift of my current struggles.
This newfound life of feeling is a stark contrast to how I dealt with feeling before recovery.
When I was deep in my disorder, I used behaviors to numb out pain and block disappointment. Focusing on my eating disorder allowed me to manipulate my feelings by focusing on something that was in my control rather than succumbing to the real issue facing me.
While I was in the habit of these practices, I convinced myself that they worked. The instant gratification I got from using a behavior instead of facing my problem was satisfying. It gave me a false sense of security that fueled my behaviors for many years. My eating disorder seemed to work for me… until it didn’t.
Now I know
But now I know – no binge and purge session is going to heal my arm. A meal skipped is not going to help my sleep apnea go away. And ____ mile run will not heal my back.
My body is not my means of fixing my problems.
And if I am honest, how I treated my body in my disorder is some of the causes of my current issues. If I had continued to go down the path of self-destruction, my body would only continue to pay the price.
While you may not have almost lost your arm, suffer from sleep apnea, or be in the middle of a spinal issue from years of malnutrition and exercise abuse, you are in your own battle. We all have the negative physical, emotional, and psychological effects of eating disorders.
And you know what? I’ll take lying on the floor in tears while feeling my current emotions ANY DAY over continuing to mask them and prolong the inevitable with eating disorder behaviors.
Emotions Set You Free
My heart is heavy and full at the same time. My shame turns to regret which helps me get up off the floor and continue to face life. As messy and hard as it can be, it is worth it to sit with the emotions. The alternative will lead to the ultimate demise of my entire being.
Recovery is both excruciating and exhilarating. You are going to have to white-knuckle through hard times. But you are also going to finally feel the joy of throwing your hands up in the air, bending your neck up to the sky, and allowing yourself to give in to the will of the world. That is a gift that we have been blessed with from the universe.
Not being in control doesn’t have to be terrifying. In fact, it can be freeing.
So, in my current situations of unknown and uncharted, instead of being afraid, I am choosing to be excited to see what comes next. Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I’m choosing to feel blessed to be alive.
The present emotions will pass if I allow them to go through their process.
No longer will I prolong, but I will proceed. No longer will I repress, but I will experience. Are you with me?
(Last Updated: December 5, 2022)