I did something brave yesterday and I am a little bit proud. I have a terrible tendency to either be impulsive or avoidant when I’m angry and upset, both of which turn me into a bit of a spiteful person.
It all started with a throw away comment, which obviously lingered in my mind much longer than it should have. I was hurt and moany about it, but didn’t expect to hear that it had been elaborated upon and further developed to become something that upset me even more. I was drunk and at a party and hearing things that made me defensive and over react and was positively fuming. I looked to other people to see their opinions on the matter and my offense was confirmed as legitimate. I was shocked and outraged, but mostly sad.
I’m not really all that use to feeling personally attacked anymore. My friendship group is pretty static and I don’t tend to worry that much about the possibility of people being hurtful or turning out to be nasty anymore. That all stopped a good few years ago, so I really didn’t know how to deal with these emotions. Difficult emotions tend to lead me to self-injure or restrict, but although these urges were there, I am working to not be that person anymore so had to find another way to manage it. At first, I thought gossiping and generally belittling the person might help, but I realised quickly that it made me feel awful about myself and only avoided tackling the problem. Then I thought ignoring the person or shouting at them might help because then they’d know I was upset, but then realised that I’m not fourteen anymore and that would be silly. My anger and emotions would only be further intensified which would make me less co-operative and only reinforce the problem. Then I focused my energy on a long and pointed blog post explaining why I was hurt and why I felt wronged. It was long and angry, but I realised that was a sure-fire way to alienate someone and stir more trouble than it was worth. I’d still be angry, but also anxious about what would happen if I so publicly announced my upset.
At this point, I was very close to just saying “fuck it” and cutting. I could not find a suitable outlet and didn’t know what to do.
The obvious option here would have always been to just talk to the person, but I was terrified that they’d be angry at me and decide that I was rubbish. In my mind, are rather be hurtful or hurt myself than give others the possibility of doing so. I could avoid the problem and take it out on me, or lash out and to publicly denounce someone. Thing is, I didn’t want to be hurtful and possibly lose one of my oldest friends. Nor did I want to feel like I had to avoid my emotions because they aren’t legitimate. So I did the thing I was most scared of. I called her up. Social anxiety be damned.
And you know what? I got to say I was upset and explain why. I got to hear her actual thoughts rather than someone else’s opinion of them. She apologised for hurting me, which validated my emotions in a productive way and I felt better. It doesn’t really matter what was said or how it was said. What matters is that my feelings were legitimate and recognised and worth enough to warrant apologising for hurting, intentionally or not. I always just assume no one would bother apologising to me because I’m not that important to them and they’d rather be right and reject me as a friend then listen to me and accept the things that I say. Instead, it turns out that isn’t always the case. We ended up talking for a while about a lot of silly things and less silly things and it was nice actually.
These kinds of events are causing me to see recovery in a new light. Behaviours like this may not seem all that important to a lot of people, and in some ways they aren’t. There are many ways to act within scenarios like this and less productive methods aren’t inherently pathological. To me though, these events are huge. Although it is not directly linked to eating behaviours, I didn’t get to where I am today in isolation from other traits and difficulties that have effected my ability to cope with daily stresses. I’ve picked up a lot of destructive techniques for avoiding difficult situations and have only taught myself that I’m somehow inferior or less valid than others through denying my own worth. For a long time, I thought the recovery process would be just about fattening me up and getting me more comfortable with food (not a bad thing in and of itself, but not something that filled me with hope and motivation) – I didn’t think that I’d be using the techniques I’m learning in therapy outside of the arena of food and weight, but I am and that surprises me. Sometimes, it really strikes me that I am literally becoming a different type of person. I’m still me, but I’m learning to cope more effectively. I’m not there yet, but I can safely say that there is more to this whole process than just overcoming anxieties and fear surrounding food and weight. A lot more. I’m becoming more aware of what I find difficult, assessing my beliefs and consciously changing my normal course of action in order to reach different outcomes. The outcomes aren’t always good, but I’m finding more comfort in myself through knowing that I am learning to challenge my automatic beliefs about myself and gathering evidence to start building a new set of beliefs. I’m not exactly oozing with self-confidence, but through addressing the thought processes that lead me to restriction, I am also addressing those that I allow to batter my esteem on a daily basis. I’m learning to trust that, regardless of how I perceive myself, other people may see me differently and actually care about me. Obviously, getting to a much healthier weight and nourishing my body properly was the first step to getting here, but I am actually beginning to believe that the recovery process might make me actually feel better about myself, which could lead to me being (dare I say it?) happier. Which is really reassuring. I feel like I’m recovering from a lot of different things really. And it could actually really be worth the hard work, hurt and time it takes. I’m learning to hope.
I’m really glad I didn’t run away from the situation as per usual. I dealt with it in an adult way and really, that worked out for the best. I did something that absolutely terrifies me. I gave someone else the ability to hurt me and shatter my feelings of worth. Turns out, people don’t always do that automatically. If I trust enough that I am worth validating, then although I open myself up to get hurt, I also give people the chance to reaffirm my worth and prove my own beliefs wrong. I’m really grateful for that.
In other news, its Eating Disorders Awareness Week this week. Try as I might, I cannot seem to find much worth doing through b-eat in this part of the country and as far as I can tell, my uni and the majority of other London universities don’t seem to realise it’s happening. So although I’ve got some posters printed out for uni tomorrow, I’m doubtful that I’ll be involved in much other organised awareness. Instead, I’m going to join the ranks of operation beautiful for a week. I know that negative body image does not cause eating disorders by any stretch, but bodily dissatisfaction can make recovery more difficult and can trigger an initial diet in people who may lead to developing an eating disorder. I know that both of those things are true for my experience. Plus, positive body image is something that should be promoted. I also think that the real life peeps can identify with the message more readily, so if you can, I’d recommend you join me in spreading a little positivity to the mirrors of London. The b-eat campaign is about ending the silence about eating disorders in the hope that more people can recognise their difficulties and are less ashamed to seek help.