This is where I don’t blink
So many things I want to get out and get off my chest. But this is not my diary. And you, as a collective, are not my friends. (Though obviously some of you are.)
I have to remind myself that this is a blog about living with eating disorders. And that can mean so many things for me, because my eating disorders touch every part of my life. But this is not a place to complain.
And even in those places that are places to complain, I try to do minimal complaining. Or at least minimal “all I’m doing about it is complaining.”
I am in a lot of pain lately. About circumstances. And life. And it is time to do that thing where I look at what is my responsibility, and what I can change and what I can’t, and what I have to let go of. And then let go.
And that is always wrapped up in my eating disorders. Partly because feelings are all wrapped up in my eating disorders. When I ate compulsively, pain is what I ate.
The correlation between an event and a feeling doesn’t even have to make sense. It doesn’t have to be some huge incident. It doesn’t have to be traumatic for me to be traumatized. So much of it is about feeling helpless.
This is a good lesson for me right now. I just had a little epiphany writing that. I don’t know if I have ever been able to pinpoint this feeling. I know its physical sensations. The intense tightness in my throat, like I am strangling myself with my own throat muscles. And the feeling in my arms and legs, hands and feet, like they don’t exist. Sort of the opposite of phantom limb syndrome. But I don’t know if up until this point I have ever been able to clearly note that it comes down to wanting something to be different that I have no power to change.
I don’t know the last time I had this feeling. It comes, and I let it go by trusting. By trusting that life is going the way it should. That whatever situation will be resolved and I, personally, will be better off with whatever the outcome. That has always been true, even though at the time it didn’t always seem to work out in my favor.
But the last time I remember this feeling being so terrible that it was practically unbearable, was about four years ago. I was a babysitter at the time and I could not stop thinking about the possibilities of the children I took care of getting hurt or dying. Especially when they were under my watch. I could not get these thoughts out of my head. Not matter how many times I tried to stop thinking them, they kept creeping in.
Now that I think about it, that was simply that I was overwhelmed by my lack of control over life. I was a fantastic child-care provider. I was not flighty or careless. I just knew in that moment that things happen in life, and people get hurt and it’s nobody’s fault. And I couldn’t control that. And it terrified me. And traumatized me. And it created the most intense pain.
That was when I started meditating. That was when I made an agreement with God, and then took time every morning to renew it. I agreed that I would honor what ever happened in a day as exactly what was supposed to happen. I didn’t have to like it. I didn’t have to put some spin on it. I just had to honor it. In other words, I had to trust.
That agreement doesn’t mean I always trust. It doesn’t stop this feeling from showing up. And it’s intense. But I will say that wading through it is so much better than eating it.
I used to eat all of my feelings. But I can think of growing up, and the times I felt the most crazy and out of control, and it all came down to this feeling, magnified times a thousand. Because I ate it. And then I ate it again. And again. Until eating it wasn’t going to work again. Until it had to come out. And when it did, it was all tied up in my worthlessness and my brokenness and the shameful things I had done and the shame in what I had failed to do. It was muddled and cloudy and I couldn’t see it clearly. And I couldn’t hold it in. I could eat as much cake as I wanted, but it was going to come out. And by that time it was so big and heavy and intense that it scared the shit out of me. There were times that I actually thought I might be going crazy.
There is something about using a substance that is ultimately lacking. If it weren’t, it would work. If I could have numbed my pain with food, and it had kept working, I would have done it. Eternally. Before I had love in my life, I would have gladly traded love for numb. I did, in fact trade love for numb for so many years. If only I could have stayed numb, I would have happily gotten fatter and fatter. I would have happily died of some obesity related illness. If only it had worked.
Thank God it didn’t. Now I would never trade love for numb. Even when this pain is so intense. And anyway, it passes, eventually. But first I have to let myself fall into the helplessness. I have to look my lack of control in the eye and not blink.