Eating disorders are not about weight. But so often people express that they feel ‘fat’. What feelings have you really been experiencing when you have said you feel fat? Or what do you think lie beneath the surface of others who express this. You can write directly in response to this blog prompt or why not alter it and look at your emotional experience of eating disorders – what did you feel? How did you know which emotion you felt? Why is it important to be aware of your emotions?
It is perfect that this was yesterday’s challenge, because yesterday I decided I was willing to weigh myself. I very rarely weigh myself and sometimes I have to force myself to get on the scale just to ensure I’m not letting ED get away with anything ‘under the hood’ so to speak. So I checked in with the scale yesterday, did not like what I saw and actually laid on the floor for a few moments before I could collect myself enough to carry on with my day. It’s incredibly strange, even to a bulimic like me, how just a number can take hold of my emotions and feel so threatening and damning. Two minutes before I weighed, I talked to my husband about needing to do it. I gave myself a whole bunch of affirmations, felt great about my fitness level and body overall, and BAM! the number shot it all away. The cool part is that I did NOT have to have a horrible day yesterday. In fact, I was able to feel pretty darn confident and even like my reflection in the mirror. What!!!!???? Nothing short of a miracle.
For as long as I can remember, ‘that number’ directed my mood and my ability to walk through a day. If the number wasn’t lower, I felt fat. If I felt fat, that meant a whole bunch of bad. It meant I wasn’t pretty, likeable, friend worthy, capable, intelligent, talented, lovable, forgivable, ugh - all goodness gone. Feeling fat was my blanket holding and covering all my fears, insecurities, brokenness and anger. I think I was challenged by every single one of my treatment providers with “Fat is not a feeling. What are you feeling? What’s inside?” This was always frustrating to me. I’m not sure what triggered me to decide that the feelings I had were not okay, but I decided it. I couldn’t find a neat spot for the mess of emotions I had before ED, and they were too embarrassing to tell those I trusted the most. I needed a hiding place for my feelings and that place became my eating disorder. Once I hid my feelings there and found it to be an extremely effective safe zone, I became comfortable with it. Saying “I feel fat” was completely okay with me. I didn’t have to go any deeper and find unwanted truths or share hidden secrets from my past. “I feel fat” was enough to keep the topic right there on the surface. Of course, the time came when this was crippling to me, and it began to kill me. I didn’t know how to go deeper. I was so alone and I couldn’t find any number on the scale that would take away the fat feeling. I know the reason I couldn’t shake it was because it wasn’t about fat at all. It was about what was going on in my head, heart and soul.
I know! Recovery is cool.