I have to say. My therapist provided me with an experience this week at my session. I began to notice, over the course of the several sessions, that she loved to repeatedly ask me “What are you feeling right now” or something along the lines of “I’m wondering what emotions you are experiencing internally”. Frankly, this last session, I became slightly annoyed by her asking the question multiple times so I said “You really like emotions don’t you?” and she replied with “and you don’t, I never hear you express or label any emotions when you speak.”
Her response resonated with me. She was right, all of what I was recounting did not entail any “I was feeling X” or “I’m feeling very X.”
The thing is, I used to feel. I remember experiencing so many emotions that I would go nuts if I couldn’t write them down, place them into verse, or sing through them while playing my guitar. Her response made me aware of just how much Ed really had numbed my emotional senses. I mean, I did have an idea that my restrictive behaviors inhibited my ability to experience emotions but until yesterday, the extent to which I have been ‘emotionally-paralyzed’ so to speak really sank in.
I now wonder if that one of the reasons why I have not picked up my guitar—or my pen to write poetry—is that I haven’t been encountering the emotions that would lead me to write or play. Ed really takes away your ability to feel emotions.
Now some people may say, “Well that’s good! You must never feel any of the unpleasant emotions (i.e. uneasy, regretful, anxious, fearful, angry, frustrated or let down)” while there may be truth to that, Ed also takes away the great emotions that make life worth living. Emotions such as joy, content, enthusiasm, excitement, curiosity, love and so many others cease to be experienced when Ed really has a handle on someone. Ed also has a habit of taking away laughter.
I am beginning to learn a little bit more each day on how my eating disorder has taken away my ability to feel and how—in order to break away from the eating disorder—I will need to work through the unpleasant emotions smothered over the course of my life. I can no longer use eating disorder behaviors to extinguish feelings of uncertainty, inadequacy, fear, anger and sadness. I don’t want to. And let me credit my not wanting to, a step toward progress. Do I want to revisit the traumas laced with overwhelming emotions? No, not really. But do I want to be able to feel all the wonderful, ‘warm and fuzzy’ feelings again? Yes, very much so.
I’ve got an emotional roller-coaster of a ride ahead of me, but I’m willing to ride it the whole way through if it gets to a better quality of life.
Instead of starving or binging your emotions, try to label and bring awareness to what you are feeling and let yourself feel it. Feelings are always temporary. They come, go, and are replaced by incoming ones. Below is a list—which I have really taken a liking to—that I hope might help with pin-pointing exactly what you may be encountering.