One of the things I despised hearing the most in recovery is that “Fat is not a feeling.” I would argue with the therapist on the purple couch that “I really do feel fat!”
My waist, arms and even fingers feel fat don’t tell me that what I’m feeling is not real!” But, alas after many relapses, diets, detoxes, support groups, journaling and visits to the infamous purple couch I have waived the white flag of surrender and do cross my heart and I definitely agree, “Fat is not a feeling.”
What I know now that I didn’t know then is that when I said “I feel fat” it was really my way of covering up a deeper feeling, a scary uncomfortable feeling that I just didn’t like…well….”feeling.” For instance I remember being very deep in my anorexia and going to a party with a bunch of friends. I was sitting at a table across from a guy who was trying to get to know me. I couldn’t hear a word he was saying because I was so consumed with how uncomfortable I suddenly felt in my jeans. I felt like I had rolls hanging out. I felt that he was looking at how fat I was. I kept looking at all the other girls in the room and watching what they ate and how much. At the time I would have definitely have said, “I feel fat right now” What I couldn’t say at the time was the truth that “I feel inadequate. Scared that I am not chill enough. Fearful that I am not pretty enough. I don’t feel funny enough or smart enough.” But, those things are too hard to admit. Those things are too scary and are the things at the core of who I am as a person and that is scary stuff to touch. So instead I take a route that I think I can control…my weight and appearance. Because I may not be able to argue with you on how intelligent and funny you think I am, but you can’t deny that I am a wearing double zero jeans.
After a couple years of recovery I still have moments when “I feel fat” but the beauty of that now is when I hear myself saying I’m fat I see that now as a signal to go deeper and see what’s really bothering me. Do I really feel uncomfortable in these shorts or do I really feel a lot of pressure to be perfect at work? Do I really need to lose 5 pounds or am I still upset about that look my sister gave me at Thanksgiving two days ago?
A widely held misconception of Eating Disorders is that they are rooted in vanity and self promotion. The truth is that they are the exact opposite, they are rooted in fear and inadequacy. An Eating Disorder is nothing but a symptom of the loss of self preservation, basically they are form of slow suicide.
I challenge everyone this week to really think about the events leading up to the moment you utter the words, “I feel fat.” If you’re anything like me you might hear that voice quite a bit, the trick is to start noticing it and shutting it down before it’s too late. In other words, there are a lot of women in rehab who “feel fat”.