The first is from Abby Cooper who blogs at "A Piece of Me"
February 1, 2012
Something You Get When You Recover From Your Eating Disorder That You Didn’t Even Know You WantedFeelings.
When I was early in my recovery, feeling my own feelings wasn’t easy-or even desirable. I had internalized a false message that my natural sensitivities made me weak, and therefore they were less worthy. I felt like who I was was not acceptable. Because of beliefs like these, my eating disorder had developed to an intensity that I was no longer receptive to the world like I had been before.
I had gotten to the point in my disorder that before I even could recognize a specific emotion, I had an urge to use my eating disorder behaviors. I didn’t think I was emotional anymore. Those ED urges replaced “excited,” “sad,” “longing,” “desire,” “comfort” and left me with only my eating disorder. The eating disorder felt preferable-it felt less painful. I was less of a mess, less sappy, less all over the place. Of course my life was a big mess in a whole different way, but: I was more numb. It felt easier.
I never intended to numb myself out to my entire life, however. Recognizing, feeling, and valuing your feelings is both a necessary step in recovery and a wonderful part of living. One thing I’ve learned to appreciate in recovery, that I would have never appreciated if I had never had an eating disorder is this:
You can’t feel the best feelings without allowing yourself to feel and tolerate the most painful and uncomfortable ones.
Yes, it’s true that the eating disorder behaviors cushion the intensity of the feelings you don’t want. But they also mute the ones you do. It strips you of your vitality and humanity. You can’t pick which ones you can experience fully. So you have to let go and let them all in. This seems scary to someone with an eating disorder. But the way to do it is to ease in: notice, allow, don’t judge. You’ll notice the more obvious feelings first, and the more practice you get, the finer ones will slip through. It becomes a game of sorts-“I don’t know what I’m feeling” turns into “I’m sleepy!” or “I’m hungry!” or “I’m hyper!” or “I’m lonely” or “I need to create something.” You get better at feeling.
And it’s awesome.
Yesterday, I woke up lonely. I felt a bit mopey and not interested in any of my usual solitary activities, like reading or drawing or goofing around on my piano. I felt sad. And I didn’t do anything to STOP that feeling. I allowed myself to feel sad. I called my brother, we talked about it, and then we joked around a bit. The feeling didn’t stop me from having a nice moment with him. Then, around mid afternoon, a friend called and invited me over. ELATED! was the next feeling I felt. I felt it just as much as I had felt lonely. I decided to get outside before I went over to her house to boost my mood, and move around a bit. I really FELT the sunshine and the brisk air, and I really FELT my body move as I got some movement in. When I drove to my friend’s house, I played music, and really FELT that music, and let it put me in a better mood. And when I arrived at my friend’s house, we had an awesome time just hanging out. I drove home that night feeling connected, loved, grateful, and warm.
I got all of those things in one day. And it was perfect.
I could have never had that day if I still used my eating disorder.
So, am I sensitive?
Do I feel a lot of things?
More so than other people?
Is that weakness?
It’s strength, because I know what I had to work through to be able to get here and accept and embrace this part of myself. Those feelings allow me to be in relationship and connect to life.
Not only is connectivity to your feelings possibly the biggest reason to recover, it’s one of the biggest and best reasons to be alive.