I don’t even know where to begin when typing about feelings! We all have feelings. We all feel them and experience them. We know there are good feelings and bad feelings. Of course we really only like the “good” feelings and we want to avoid the “bad” feelings as much as possible. We can’t avoid them, but we deal with them (when they pop up). Have you ever started crying and you felt like you shouldn’t be crying and you’re embarrassed because you feel weak or like you should “have it together”? That’s how I have always felt.
I know where I want to start …. I’ll start with “feelings are annoying.”
I think they are annoying because I have to constantly think about them. As I go through treatment I have realized that I have avoided feelings for quite some time, much like an alcoholic or a drug addict does. In short, I used restricting and over-exercise to ignore anger, frustration and any negative thought I didn’t want to have. For example: If I was stressed out at school and overwhelmed, and on the verge of crying, I would simply talk to myself out of the feeling and say, “Rachel don’t worry…. It’s all going to be okay… don’t cry! You can fix this… tonight you’re going to go home, skip dinner, run 5 miles and it’s all going to be okay!!” Now, realistically, going home, skipping dinner and running 5 miles does nothing but avoid the frustration that I was feeling — much like an alcoholic will drink away whatever feelings they don’t like.
Picture break up – Remmington got a haircut last night! It was traumatic. He’s struggling. (Mike cuts their hair… he’s an awesome poodle haircutter…. although, this isn’t their first rodeo. They know what happens so they just stand there and wait— most of the time :))
Going through recovery has taught me that I have often avoided anything negative and always put on my outgoing, funny and bubbly façade. I am/was often described as the bubbly person/teacher who walks down the hall, always in a good mood, willing to help and always smiling. At home I was stressed and overwhelmed because I never said “no.” I am your typical “people pleaser.” If anybody needed me to do something, I said yes because I felt guilty saying no. Every bad feeling was non-existent unless it was pleasing for other people. It was not like Rachel to say anything that created conflict! She is always such a pleaser! The only feeling I could seem to find was anger… and it was just not appropriate to show anger, so I needed help to hide it. So, how does one deal with not saying negative feelings and stuffing them down??? Oh, I know…. through an eating disorder!!!! Just like my example above, when those scary feelings that I couldn’t show or say popped up, I had to stuff them away because they were too tough to deal with and I didn’t want to create conflict or upset anyone. The easiest way to get by was to ignore them, push them down, and make sure nobody around me was upset. In order to do all of that I had to be sure that I always kept my emotions in control! Because I had to make everyone else happy, I felt like I had lost all control of everything around me. I didn’t realize it was impossible to make everyone happy (what? This isn’t possible, you say?)! So, in the wake of my loss of control around me, my control went straight into my body, food and exercise. Anytime I was stressed or anxious I could immediately forget about those pesky feelings and calm down thinking that I would skip a meal, over exercise and lose weight. My focus was off those negative feelings and I felt powerful, strong, and like I was in control when I could actively watch the number on the scale get lower and lower. When everything seemed crazy, I could calm myself and by saying, “don’t worry…. You’re not going to eat and you’re going to do XYZ and everything is going to be okay…. It’s all okay” (I know this sounds soooo crazy). You really feel like you are in CONTROL. The tricky part is, before long, the ED begins to take CONTROL of YOU!
I’m realizing that I removed myself so far from my feelings that I have NO idea how to recognize them, or deal with them! I’m just now learning how to recognize them and deal with them…. Boy oh boy this is a doozie!!!
[I would like to take a moment and make a public apology to my husband who has had to deal with me NOT understanding my feelings … he’s a trooper, and a keeper!]
Sophie got a haircut too….. She’s sleeping because she kept me up all night frustrated from her new bald body. 🙂
So, I am beginning to realize that these feelings that I don’t like are necessary. I argued with the treatment professionals for so long about how they aren’t necessary! For a long time I have been working with my therapist on recognizing that there are negative feelings I’m learning that we need them – there are important signals like intuition that tell us when we should be scared if we are walking down a dark street alone, or when we have taken on too many things (overwhelmed) to keep ourselves healthy, or when we need to give our bodies a break etc. Our emotions are there to guide us through life to keep us healthy. When I was IN my eating disorder I didn’t have emotions. My brain was so starved that I couldn’t “feel” anything and now that I’m getting to a healthy place I am feeling it all!!! AND TO TOP IT ALL OFF my friendly professional treatment team has taken away my only way of coping… my eating disorder!!! So, right now…. let me tell you, I have some feelings…. oh, and sorry for my treatment team…. they are feelings of dislike and anger for them! 🙂
No haircut yet…. happily sleeping with her bear. The trauma will come.
Feelings are hard! They are confusing! I was just furloughed from my teaching job. This is completely OUT OF MY CONTROL when it comes to the way the union does it. I have no idea how to feel, I just know it is awful and it feels too big to deal with because THESE PEOPLE (treatment team) took away my coping skill. Feelings can do a lot to you! I had a conversation with my therapist about a struggle run this morning because my body is literally shutting down on me! It is becoming exhausted and I can’t run (seriously in about 2 miles at a snail’s pace). It makes no sense – I am following my meal plan and doing what everyone says and there was this defining day that running became this awful struggle — when stress started to pick up. The only thing that can make sense (as my therapist explained) is that I’m restricting my feelings because I don’t want to deal with them and holding them in can do a lot of crazy things to your body (kind of like depression when people can’t get out of bed). She’s right…. I’m restricting my feelings…. I don’t want to deal with the unfair fact that others voted for more pay so I lost my job and now a MAJOR CHANGE has to happen and I have to find a new job. I can let these feelings out, but there are a lot of them ….. and I don’t know what they are! And when you hide these little buggers for so long, they come back INTENSE and ready to roll. Who is ready for that? Not me! But I’m finding that if I want to run, I don’t have a choice but to let them out! The hard part is, she keeps telling me that I have to “sit with them”…. who in the world wants to sit with scary feelings??? Especially feelings that they don’t understand!!!! RIGHT… I’M ON THAT!!! <insert sarcasm here>
So, as I’m coming to terms with these pesky feelings and learning how to emote…. I have stopped judging them, and myself for having them, and I have started to try to just let them happen. My therapist keeps repeating it takes a strong person to let emotions out. So, as much as I feel weak crying and letting it out, it’s actually the opposite. Sitting with feelings is hard to do! It’s hard because we might not want to admit we feel a certain way, or that we are capable of feeling that way. I didn’t realize I was making my body/running worse when I was stuffing them away still. I wasn’t restricting though! 🙂 So, I have something to work on! Keeping them in just isn’t working for me!
Time to punch these feelings in the face! I’m sure I’ll have the ability because I have a phone interview for a teaching position this afternoon! THAT will bring up plenty of feelings because I don’t want to leave my school and we all know change is soooooooo easy to deal with!
Is there anything that might be tough in your life right now? Do you allow yourself to emote? Do you think emoting means your weak? If not, can you find a way to change that?
Hopefully you can let yourself release your emotions and move on because keeping them in just doesn’t work!
Happy Memorial Day weekend! 🙂