Much more fueled by anxiety than I thought
I needed to grab whatever was closest in order to ground me. When I was panicking I would need a lifeline, someting outside of myself, in order to change the feelings so they would become manageable to me.
Much more isolated than I thought
Even though I had a lot of information about eating disorders, was reading personal accounts, and had tried to mention things to friends in passing, I myself didn’t even believe I was sick. The shame I felt, the overwhelm I felt for not knowing how to eat normally, was expressed in self-hate which always turned to eating disordered behaviors.
Much more hidden, much deeper than I thought
My eating disorder told me “Until you return to the most painful spot in your history and relive it until it goes right, you are doing yourself a disservice by changing, growing emotionally, or even considering happiness.”
Over the past 10 years I have been very nostalgic. I have trouble throwing things away and have been chiefly directed by an overwhleming sense of loss. I was attempting to navigate back through my past to a place that didn’t exist anymore. Getting somewhere that doesn’t exist and doing it without a map? I now see that as the ultimate in martyrdom. “Sadly, present life, I can’t show up for you,” in other words.
My eating disorder forced me to check out of my life as it was happening at present. With my eating disorder, I had stability. It appeared to be comfortable and safe there. It was at least familiar. And even with the physical pain, it was better than acknowledging how lost I felt.
The thing I leearned to let myself see is that the places in the past don’t exist anymore. They are not based in geography so I can’t physically go back. They will have changed to a different place in time. My eating disoder tells me all the time that my body cannot, should not, will not be allowed to change. I believe the last of its behaviors are/were hiding in this thinking that (1) my body can stop time by staying the same or (2) my body can take me back to the past to fix things by maintaining the shape it had then .
Ironically, a lot of the things I wanted to fix back there in the past – but am now letting go of and forgiving myself for – are situations that I felt I could have avoided with better personal boundaries and a greater sense of assertiveness. (For instance, paying attention to red flags in relationships instead of staying when I’m getting hurt. Or trying my best to pinpoint my emotions and reach out for understanding from someone who can help).
Unfortunately I didn’t always have good boundaries or assertiveness skills, and at one point I was too young to have the perspective that help is available to me.
That very fact underscores the importance of moving forward now.
Now, I am working on improving these skills and will not stop asking for other perspectives.
I am lucky enough to have met a number of incidents which brought me here, finally, to the place of getting help. A big part of that has meant help in letting go. Letting go of regret for not acting sooner because I AM acting NOW – and now I’m actually ready! Letting go of my judgements (of myself and others) and replacing that with curiosity as best I can. Letting go of telling myself I’m fat and ugly, and instead asking myself how I really feel and what I can do to feel better in this moment. Letting go of knowing best and letting other people take care of me, allowing for the possibility that it could lead me to happiness. That’s what I really wanted after all.