For as long as I remember, I have have felt like I was too much. Too much, and yet distinctly not enough.
I always thought I was the only one. But when I began eating disorder treatment, I realized that this contradiction is a constant for many people.
In body, in action, in life: it is common for people with eating disorders to feel far too much to handle. And at the same time, to feel you are not living up to what you (or you think others) expect from you.
Through the years, the fear of feeling full was palpable. It was infectious. It no longer just referred to my stomach.
My lungs feared taking full, deep belly breathes. My voice feared speaking up and filling a room. It felt like “full” stifled all that I was. Because feeling empty was the only way I knew to cope with all I felt.
Being empty was being numb.
Early in my recovery, as the food increased and binging hadn’t yet subsided, I tried my hardest not to purge. But as so many warriors know, it’s one of the hardest feeling to deal with.
One day I walked by the river, hoping the obsessive, angry ED voice would subside. As I walked I started to cry, tears streaming down my face. For the first time, I felt this feeling of fullness.
I didn’t just feel “full” as the food in my stomach (or the “weight gain” my ED shouted it would cause). But for what it really was – a fear of being fully me.
So I wrote a poem. I walked and I wrote all that came from my heart and my head surrounding my fullness. And when I had finished, I felt light.
6 months later…
Six months later, I still reach points of feeling full that kick my eating disorder thoughts into overdrive.
And you really can’t try to escape these thoughts or go back to old behaviors. The hideous part of recovery is learning to sit with the uncomfortable feelings. So when these moments take over, I go back to that poem I wrote walking by the river.
I read it aloud with volume, allowing myself to feel the anger, to find expression for the years of words unspoken and feelings not understood. I read it to my eating disorder so she realizes I know her game.
And I read it to me, the 28 year old. Then I read it to the 9 year old me. Because I want both Phoebes to know her feelings are valid and she is allowed to take up space in this world.
My gift to you on feeling too much
And so I give this poem to you, my fellow warriors.
It’s yours for the days you feel but cannot find the words. I give it to you in the hope you may find solace in the fact someone else feels the same way. And that you may find strength to continue the most important journey of your life: your journey back to you.
F U L L
Tight and clutching,
To the skin that crawls your body and the layers that smother your soul.
Full. Full. Full. Full. Full. Full. Full. Full.
The thoughts fill your head matching the rhythm of your anxious empty heart.
Painfully full, yet distinctly void
Starved of more than just sustenance
Starved of life
Too full for these things
No room to overflow
Full makes you know it’s there
Wrapped and smothered yet trying to break free
Does a tree that falls in a forest make a sound
When and If you’re not around?
Each limb, curve, angle holding the story
Of all the reasons I cannot connect as me.
Full of the words
Full of me,
Of fairytales they refuse to see.
Disconnected from the eyes down, even these cheeks don’t give you rest,
And these, they can’t be molded and wrapped and shaped and hidden
That war paint only hides so much.
But it masks well the hollow caskets that hold your empty souls until they too are full
Full of sadness
Full of pain
Well anything to quell the hunger
Life’s daily menu inducing claustrophobia.
into your chest
But, stop, full
To every corner,
In every nook
Full beyond distinction of what is mental and what is physical
Full in pain that is tangible
Your body a solid representation of thoughts. Full. And it just keeps filling layer upon layer of Full in discomfort and Full in agony Full till there is no more Full past the mark stating maximum Full till there is no more and nothing Full whilst the Body remains void Full because the mind is full of noise
You cannot fill an over inflated balloon
empty soothes your soul
It calms the beat of your frantic heart
Hollow like your eyes
Hollow like your words
You cannot produce from empty
empty spawns full and full desires empty
Maybe empty means you can fly away
empty is the answer
And your belly button sinks through your spine
Yet full of relief
But oh, the grief
Full of empty
Too much, but never enough.
Why is my love is full a burden?
Is full so wrong?
Why is empty everything,
Does it make you strong?
I see you now
Full of love
Full of compassion
Why hold your stomach in and breathe half your existence when you were born to be full
Do not cut the cord severing the air you swallow at half mast, like you were meant to stand shy never setting sail.
How do you function on half a tank of unleaded when you run on Mother Earth
Why would you want to be empty when this is your fill
Your capability is to rise,
In stature and in size.
Your spirit was not born to be small,
In emptiness your soul withers dry.
Dear girl, you were born to make noise
But in mind and in body you remain just a child, grappling for the love that you crave
empty is your soul if
empty is your belly
Full is the shackles that stop your life daily
Full is not feeling
Full is unknown
Full is it.
Full will be it.
Until it, you choose to let go