Thinking Out Loud 4/16/15: Making Up For Lost Feeling

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.

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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.

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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.

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10 thoughts on “Thinking Out Loud 4/16/15: Making Up For Lost Feeling

  1. I always wonder whether or not I should look into old journals, but for the most part, I try to just focus on the positives of what life is like now. The more I remind myself of the past, the worse I feel. That time deserves to remain in the past for me!

    Don’t ever think it is silly to cry. I hate when people are ashamed of their emotions. You have been through a lot and it is okay to show your emotions!

    Of course this is just my opinion, but I don’t think you should be “grieving” for that time in your life. Obviously it was a very dark time, but it grew you into the incredibly strong person you are today. It sucks that we both had to endure this pain, but think of how much you value your life because of it. Idk, I am just not one to dwell on the mistakes of the past because I do not really view them as mistakes. I think they taught us vital lessons and we have matured greatly because of them.

    With that said, I think it is wonderful how self aware you are. You are making great strides in your recovery, and it is refreshing to see your honesty. ❤

    • Thanks for the feedback! I have had to be careful looking through old journals because I know that it can be triggering or just bum me out, but for the most part it serves as a helpful reminder of how far I have come from my worst moments.

      That being said, I totally agree that dwelling on the worst times isn’t helpful. I think it’s okay to feel sad for those times as long as you can pick yourself up again and look toward the future afterward, which I did. And I agree that this experience has strengthened me and will make me a better and more aware person despite the pain it caused. Although I wouldn’t wish the experience on anybody, it’s true that it has made me view life in a new way.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Your journey is truly inspiring!

  2. I can completely relate to this. At times I want to think about my past and create some kind of closure and vow to move on, but I don’t want to harbor on the negatives. The fact that you are crying for your old self really shows how much you have learned and grown. So proud of you…you continue to inspire my own recovery!

    • Thank you! I don’t think it’s helpful to dwell on the negatives of the past, but remembering how far we have come can be a great motivator for continuing to pursue health. Keep up the hard work 🙂

  3. Beautifully written as always. I think you are very brave and strong to choose recovery while you are still young and have so much ahead of you. I waited until I was in my mid thirties and when I look back on all the years I wasted being consumed by my eating disorder and all the things I missed, it makes me cry too. My two sons were little boys when things got bad for me and now they are almost grown up and have their own lives, I miss and regret all those years of their childhood that I wasn’t really there and I know I’ll never get that time again. Reflecting on the past can sometimes be really hard but it confirms that we are now on the right path and going back is not an option.

    • Thank you for sharing part of your story with me- it is truly inspiring and motivating. Even though years may have been lost, I’m glad you can look back from a healthier place. Best wishes to you, and thanks again for sharing your thoughts and experience with me!

  4. I still look through my old journals every now and again, and it really does break my heart to see how much unnecessary suffering I caused myself and how many years I wasted on something that I thought would make me happy but never did. But at the same time, it makes me really happy to see how far I’ve come and how much I’ve overcome. Beating my ED may have been one of the hardest things I’ll ever have to do, and I honestly do believe that I’ve come out of it a better and stronger person.

  5. This is so moving. I feel the same way in regard to my family. For a long time I did not allow myself to feel emotion towards them because they hurt me and I did not want a relationship. I did not want to feel anything when I thought of them because the sadness was not worth the limited happiness. Now that our relationships are better, I am allowing myself to feel both happy for how we are now, and sad at how we were. I have learned a lot about myself and it has only served to move our relationship forward. You are amazing for being able to look back. It must be so hard!

    • Thank you for your kind words, and for sharing some of your story. It can be hard to revisit those times, but I think pushing that pain away does us a greater disservice in the long run. It’s so commendable of you to look back and repair those relationships!

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