Yesterday I wrote about throwing my old / anorexic clothes away as I gain back a healthy body in this eating disorder recovery and the emotions that that has raised in me.
One of the emotions that has come up is a form of grief for my old, sick, thin, ‘anorexic’ body… and I thought I would reflect a bit further on why this should be the case.
Before I reached this recovery stage myself, I had always heard others who were recovered or recovering saying that they had to grieve their starved body as they gained weight. I could never really understand before why this would be the case and it is something that to anyone who has not had an eating disorder is entirely incomprehensible. Surely, becoming healthy should only be a good thing!
I always hated being so thin and hated looking ill but at the same time, that was me for so long and now, I look in the mirror and I like that I have rounded cheeks and eyes that are no longer too big and hollow for my face, like they were when I was so sick, but I do still grieve for the body that was not healthy and has now gone, grown in size and nourishment…
I wonder if part of the reason for this confusion in emotions is because this new body, the one I am in now, is also temporary. I have had to leave the familiar behind and now I am living in a constantly changing and evolving figure.
This body now is unfamiliar and alien and yet I still cannot try to adjust to it as it is now because it is not yet where it needs to be. I feel I could be comfortable with my recovering body now but this state is temporary and it must be so if I want to continue in my recovery to become fully recovered!
Within the starved, sick body I also lived my life for the past 12 years and although that life was not happy, the eating disorder meant that in the moment it could feel deceptively safe as the illness creates a false sense of calm with emotional numbness.
As I recover, this past life is markedly altered – life feels chaotic and can be distressing as I gain weight, eat and rest. And, in the future, my life will be different again but I have no true vision of what that life will be yet… Will sacrificing the calmness and the numbed out emotions be worth it for the life it gives me? Will a bigger body bring contentment?
We all feel most comfortable with the familiar, even if that familiar is not always the best for us…. and new can be discomforting to begin with, until that too becomes familiar.
So I do grieve for the familiar and a less chaotic existence in a body that felt safe to my eating disordered mindset and a part of me fears what lies ahead which in turn makes me feel some sadness and confusion.
But, I do know that going back is not an option…
I have to continue, I have to accept my body as it continues to change and I have to wait and see what life will bring in this new, bigger, healthier figure. I can grieve what is gone and then be curious as to what is yet to be!
NB… And yes, I know that anorexia occurs in any weight body but this still applies – as it is grieving the loss of the underweight body for your natural body size(!), which was unhealthy for you, even if that is not ‘underweight’ by a BMI chart.