I think sometimes it’s hard to conceptualize that this whole eating disorder issue is not about the food. We all know it, but I am not so sure we understand it. When I was diagnosed with anorexia I knew it was about control and feelings, but it didn’t make sense past that. A year into recovery, I finally had this epiphany!!!! I am going to claim all credit for it, although recognizing it goes to my therapist…. but, I’m still taking all credit — she’ll never know the difference! 🙂
I am on day 16 of this 30 day meal plan challenge. It’s a real doozie!!! (I still have the support of my friends at Skinny Camp!!! Thanks girls!!! and Val ) Last week, I was ready to sit down for dinner after a stressful day at work and I had planned everything out. I had my dinner ready and I had decided I wasn’t grading and I was going to watch some funny tv (The Big Bang Theory to be exact! Bazinga! 🙂 ). So, as I sat down, I started on my dinner and the show and Mike came to the kitchen from running. He didn’t just walk in, but he started making a lot of noise (running water, banging things). Needless to say it was VERY distracting. I began to grow frustrated because I couldn’t hear my show (I was watching it on the computer). I tried to push it aside. Then my foster daughter came to the kitchen and they started talking and bantering back and forth (not really arguing) and it was EVEN MORE distracting…. so naturally, my frustration grew and grew!
This happened as if it were in slow motion:
As my frustration grew more and more I felt like I couldn’t stop it. It seemed like it was building and building and I didn’t know how to stop it. Taking deep breaths didn’t work. I couldn’t yell across the room for them to shut up and that they were ruining my dinner and tv show (although, I wanted to, but I’m glad I didn’t as I wouldn’t have seen this happen). As it all continued, I turned off my show (very frustrated), and we all know how well I deal with change (if you haven’t read up on that, go ahead and do that). I looked down and my sandwich and I realized that as I was getting frustrated the sandwich that was once “okay” to eat was becoming more and more disgusting to me. As my frustration continued to grow over the situation it became more and more disgusting. I couldn’t slow my frustration, or make it go away and I watched myself slowly hate the sandwich more and more. At this point, I was angry! I sat down for peace and quiet, and I wanted to watch a funny tv show, and I got the total opposite. So now, I had no clue what to do with this frustration. I realized, at this moment, that I was slowly putting all of my frustration into my sandwich — and this sandwich, that I was okay with many moments earlier, was now my mortal enemy. I hated this sandwich at this point! I watched myself slowly become disgusted with it, and I wanted nothing more than to take the sandwich, ball it up and throw it across the room. That was the only thing that would make me feel better at this point…. and I had no idea why. I just knew that if I chucked that sandwich across the room, all of my frustration would be gone and I would feel better. (Be prepared. I’m not sure if you all knew I’m an amazing artist!)
I took my situation to therapy because I thought I was past that. I have been able to eat sandwiches for such a long time now. As I described the whole situation, my therapist asked me, “why do you think you hated the sandwich so much, and why do you think you wanted to throw it?”…. my initial thought, “duh, I don’t know, that’s why I’m here…. I need YOU to figure that out and tell me!!!!” (apparently it’s not that easy! She’s not just going to give me the answers…haha). I simply said, I had no idea and that I thought I was past that and I had no idea why I watched myself become disgusted this sandwich when my frustration HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE SANDWICH!!!!!
That’s when the epiphany happened…<que magical and inspirational music now>…. She said that I was placing my feelings into the sandwich because then I could just push the feelings (that I don’t want to deal with) away when I push the sandwich away. Essentially, I was mad about my dinner being messed up and being interrupted after a very stressful day at work. Being stressed out during a difficult meal, I couldn’t say how I felt, but I had to get my feelings out. In order to “get them out” somehow, I placed my feelings into the food, to the point that I hated it so much that I wanted to throw it away, thus feeling better, and “getting the feelings” away from me.
This made so much sense!!! I knew “it wasn’t about the food” all along, but I didn’t know how to conceptualize it. I didn’t fully understand it. I didn’t understand why I hated food and was scared of it and refused to put it in my body. I didn’t understand why I felt better when I refused food. But what I have come to realize is that I was able to put these “unfeelable feelings” (not a word, I know … I make things up, people… haha) and attach them to food so I had a way to get rid of them. I could get rid of them (feelings) when I would throw the food away. So each time I was mad, angry, frustrated or hurt and didn’t want to feel it, I would get super pissed at the food and get rid of the food….. in turn, feeling better and as if I were cleansed of feelings. The truth is, I just never dealt with them. That’s the hard part. Now that these people have taken away my coping strategy (restricting food) ….. I’ll be blunt when I say ….. this freaking sucks! 🙂 The good thing about all of this is that my relationship with food is changing and I’m realizing that restricting food doesn’t change frustration and feelings, it just helps me avoid what is upsetting me (much like those who reach for a drink).
So, I know I’m not the only one who avoids negative feelings so I challenge you to take a look at the way you deal with negative feelings and if it’s the healthiest way possible. Could you handle your feelings any better than you do now? Are you okay with how you handle your feelings? Do you even let your feelings out? Something to think about.
I’m finding more and more, we can’t keep them in.