Body Image & Disordered Eating: Save the Messy Stuff
I’ve never written in a journal consistently. In fact, I usually just write on scraps of paper when I feel like I have to get something out, when I feel an overwhelming need to write.
In college, this overwhelming need usually came after I’d binged or just felt fat in general. I’d write about how disgusting I felt, how I could feel the fat swallowing me up, how I wished so badly to be skinny, and thereby pretty, how tired I was of counting calories, dieting and then overeating, how desperately I wished to be able to stop stuffing food down my throat.
About two years or so ago, I found several of these scraps of paper, while I was doing some major organizing and spring cleaning. My goal was to throw anything needless away. I was ruthless with clutter.
And I become ruthless with the papers. I ripped up my old writings, the old pain and bad memories. I ripped and ripped like a human shredder, and threw the shards into the trash. I think my rationale was that by ripping the papers up, I’d erase these moments from my life. That’s because as much as I know feeling your feelings and being honest with yourself are important, I also know my propensity for pretty and straight lines.
Sometimes, I tend to be an all-or-nothing, rigid kind of a gal. I run from the messy stuff. I’d rather not experience my emotions, because, heck, they hurt. And throughout the years, I’ve become an expert at it. When my father passed away, I plunged into the deep, clear and calming waters of my work. I found comfort and, most importantly, distraction amongst my articles, blog posts and book reviews. The more work I did, the less I had to feel.
Feeling less fits well into my world. This is because I like to tie everything up nicely and neatly with a bow. And my tear-soaked scraps of paper didn’t conform to that. They don’t belong in my life as a body image blogger (though I threw them out way before this blog).
I was ashamed that I’d felt that vulnerable – and ironically enough, I was ashamed that I had felt ashamed of my body and my self as a whole. I didn’t like how I felt reading those words, and so I figured that by tearing them up and throwing them out, I was throwing away a damaged piece of me that I wouldn’t have to deal with ever again.
But from the mess comes insight, compassion and hopefully self-acceptance. I have to work harder to experience my emotions – and to accept that I’ve never been able to draw a straight line ever in my life. (Seriously, it’s true – not even with a ruler!) My lines have always looked more like a big squiggle. It’s excruciating for me not to wrap up this post with a happily ever after. (Seriously, I feel like I have to restrain myself.) To chirp about how well I’m starting to feel my feelings now.
But that’s not the truth.
So I’ll just say that it’s important to acknowledge the messy stuff. We all struggle. Hopefully we learn from it. If nothing else, it’s a starting point to help guide us in a healthier direction. My healthier path is paved with feelings to feel and an acceptance that mess exists and it’s OK to get dirty. And I wish I would’ve kept those mess-filled papers and not cleaned up so ruthlessly.
(On a side note, I’m thankful to our awesome blog manager, Jessica, who encouraged me to write about my personal struggles and to not be afraid of being doom and gloom if I write about a difficult issue. Hopefully you don’t mind. :))
Today’s favorite post. “A Case of the Blahs” at Voice in Recovery. Some great suggestions in this post from Kendra, as always!
Do you try to forget the messy stuff? How have you come to terms with your past unhealthy habits? Do you journal? How do you process painful emotions?
Tartakovsky, M. (2010). Body Image & Disordered Eating: Save the Messy Stuff. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 2, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/weightless/2010/07/body-image-disordered-eating-save-the-messy-stuff/