Good morning! I am enjoying some glorious weather here in Montana on this fine Thursday, and I hope that your day is off to a great start as well. Today, I’m linking up with Amanda to share some of what’s on my mind.
Last week, I was scrolling through some old food and exercise logs from my sickest days. While this activity is not exactly a romp through the park, I do this from time to time to help me remember how hopeless life felt when I was at my sickest, using those painful memories as motivation for continuing recovery.
On this particular day, as I flipped through the logs from two years ago, I found myself struck by emotion. Chills ran down my spine as I remembered the panic I felt when one of my classes went to Chicago for the day and I was unable to squeeze in a workout. I felt heavy-hearted as I recalled counting out exactly five potato chips while working at summer camp, praying that nobody noticed my behavior. I remembered nearly every day that I kept those logs, but I remembered them not because of any fun college experiences with friends or interesting lectures. I remembered them only by calories eaten and calories burned, and that realization hit me with a heavy pang of sadness.
Sitting in my backyard and looking through the logs, I found myself tearing up. It felt silly to be crying over things that happened two years ago, things that did not stir such strong emotion in me at the time, but this release of emotion felt refreshing, like a deep exhale after holding my breath. I realized that I was crying for lost time. I was crying because I could not see the sadness of the situation as it was unfolding. I could not acknowledge the pain that I was in as my life was slipping between my fingers. I was crying for the girl who took an extremely poorly-timed trip to Scotland, a trip spent in a fog of starvation and panic. I was crying for the girl who thought she had to recover on 2000 calories per day, and refused to believe that she was hungry for anything more. I cried for the girl who looked at pictures of herself and saw that something was not right, that these pictures conveyed pain no matter how large of a smile was forced upon her face.
Sitting in my backyard, I experienced deep grief for the 21-year-old girl with a bright future who was only doing what she thought she needed to do to be lovable. I grieved for every time that my weight loss app awarded me a “badge” for further descent into my disorder.
I was grieving for the times that I chose workouts over outings with college friends that I have not seen since. I was grieving at the injustice of believing that I was doing the right thing while I was slowly killing myself, and I was grieving at the loneliness and isolation of it all.
Feeling these unfelt emotions caught me off guard, but I know that it is a sign of my progress in recovery. As I got sicker and sicker, I lost the ability to feel much of anything but anxiety and panic. The fact that I can now feel the sadness that I could not feel at the time is an indication of health, and of being in touch with parts of myself that I tried so very hard to push away with anorexia.
It may feel ridiculous to cry for yourself as a child, to feel the fear that you were unable to feel during your hardest times, or to express anger that has boiled under the surface for years, but it is never too late to look upon your past with compassionate eyes and feel what you couldn’t feel at the time. These feelings are what make us human, and allowing yourself to feel them is a step toward health and strength, even if it results in crying in your backyard on a sunny day.