“Approach don’t avoid.”
A line I learned from Renfrew, regarding uncomfortable emotions.
ED wants me to use symptoms so I can smooth over the “uncomfortable.” He wants to distract me from sadness, loneliness, guilt, anger or whatever else I may be feeling.
Sometimes my urges are so strong, I can’t even comprehend what may have triggered them—all I can hear is his voice telling me to binge, use food, purge or avoid this meal.
My boyfriend reminds me of those words. Accept where I’m at, and approach the feelings that ED thinks he’s protecting me from.
You want to know what I honestly think in those moments?:
Why the hell would I want to put so much work into figuring something out that my mind is literally trying so hard to hide from me.
Again. ED thinks he’s protecting me.
“You’re too weak. You’re not smart or pretty enough. You can’t solve this.”
ED takes 3 forms, all of which I know very well:
- The first one is the most common: he’s ACTIVE. This means he’s there in the background noise. He throws little comments out, “Excuse me but that donut has 350 calories: it says rightttt there in big bold letters…” or “Tasha, are you really having pizza and wings…in one day…” or “There’s a lot of cream in your coffee, girlfriend, I don’t know if you should finish all of that.” He’s an asshole. But I have gotten very good at telling him to shut it.
- Dormant: This is my favorite phase. I know he’s there but I can’t see or hear him. I go about my day without any contradictions inside my head and I love it. Sometimes I’ve questioned if he will ever come back. And that’s when I’ve learned it can be dangerous, because he will potentially pop back in at any moment. So I can’t let my guard down or I’m like a deer in the head lights. Which brings me to the last phase of ED…
- The very loud, very obnoxious and extremely controlling ED. I literally turn from the road runner outsmarting ED– into the scatterbrained Daffy Duck. I’m a babbling mess with no control. ED taunts me, and no matter how hard I try to fight him, I feel helpless.
The worst part is that when ED gets this powerful, I am extremely unmotivated to use my proper coping skills. Even after I’ve established how much writing helps me, ED says: “You’re exhausted” (yeah, especially from fighting you all day) “lay down instead…” and like that gullible Daffy Duck, I fall into his trap.
“Approach. Don’t avoid.”
Laying down might seem like a good option since I am tired. But ED’s working the system; he’s finding a loophole.
Laying down (in this case)=avoiding.
I need to uncover what is making ED so strong. He’s that voice inside of us making excuses.
He’s buried those painful feelings. And by choosing to not write, he will relentlessly tell me to use food until it numbs me.
Then, mission accomplished. I no longer care what my emotions are or how to fix them. All I care about is that I’ve fallen off the wagon. I’ve used symptoms. Now I feel shitty AND I’m a failure.
But, here’s the moment I’m thankful for. No, I didn’t pick up my journal or laptop. I still hadn’t found the strength to write: but I did use my phone.
Ah, the beauty of phones. ED doesn’t have enough time to fight me on texting, because the buttons are right at my finger tips.
Venting—an effortless coping mechanism. I type and send, type and send. I’m one of those pain in the ass quadruple texters.
I now have someone to figure things out with. It’s much easier than doing it on my own. And It doesn’t take the same brain power as writing. Sure, eventually ED tells me I’m a nuisance, but then I get a heartwarming text message where one of my friends tells him to fuck off for me.
My supports literally take the load off when I don’t have the strength anymore. I just have to remember that they are willing to do this. I HAVE TO REACH OUT.
I can rant and ramble and sound as Daffy Duckish as I want, and they don’t care.
Last night I was under my covers feeling defeated and miserable. I didn’t want to move because ED seemed to control all of my actions.
That’s when I found my happy.
This was when I went from faking my “okay-ness” to literally laughing out loud. This was the moment I got inspired. This is when ED disappeared and I became my (some-what) logical self again.
Yeah, I wish I could find the inspiration within myself. Or that I could figure out what’s bothering me.
But that’s the magic of having people that click with you. They alleviate the pressure of figuring it all out. They change your mood by just listening, making you smile, and giving you a new perspective.
Yeah, I’m very lucky to have people in my life that know me very well. They know what I’m hiding and what may be the source of all my anxiety… but I also love that they remind me not to take life too seriously.
Laugher heals pretty much everything. And I think we all forget that at times.
(Look! I’m writing again. I do give myself a little credit for taking that flicker of inspiration and running with it. It’s very easy to return to your comfortable depressed state, but it’s more rewarding to climb out. Especially when you’ve now had a boost from the ones you love.)
EDs back to quietly buzzing somewhere in my brain. Which I’m ok with, because my voice is much louder than his.
I know the laugher scared him off. ED doesn’t understand happiness because he thinks we don’t deserve it. But, there’s no thoughts in laughter, there’s just pure bliss. Even when the world is crumbling around me, I’m sure my loved ones can put a smile on my face–and THAT is something to be inspired about.
I can take a breath now and enjoy my break from ED.
I will of course continue to FIGHT the strong, condescending urge to avoid whatever is bothering me. And I’ll do my best to not let ED get back to that obnoxious stage 3.
Finally, one of my favorite poems for anyone with suffers with avoidance:
It illustrates the beauty of approaching your emotions.
I want to live like this. For even the darkest of emotions can help you see the contrast of what you want for your life.
I now know that I want to make some changes in this moment.
I can work harder at my happiness and obtain what I REALLY want, rather than avoiding my feelings and using symptoms for ED’s fake and fleeting relief.
ED says that some things are “too painful” well, fuck you ED. I believe that everything happens for a reason, therefore I will be given the strength to work through it–because I have to get to what’s waiting for me. Every problem has a solution. Even if acceptance is the solution. Acceptance allows me to recognize and release what is hurting me, so I can move on and find my happiness elsewhere.