Letting go. It’s something I realised in recovery, the necessity of letting go of control over emotions, to feel and accept unconditionally. Yet it’s been a hard journey, after years of suppressing emotions (and not even knowing it) I finally started realising, at the beginning of July how even in recovery I subconsciously try to avoid emotions in any way- but I need to just let myself feel the shitty emotions, before I can feel better. That recovery isn’t feeling better but allowing myself to feel, and for me that means feeling a lot of awful emotions.
I remember what Dr Kelly said once, “you need to let yourself feel broken before you can be less broken. it’s okay to feel broken and not have it all figured out, but instead we can ask ourselves why we might feel that way”.
She also keeps saying that coping doesn’t mean feeling better, it means becoming a better feeler- to cope better. I’ve been really trying to remind myself of that over and over and over. I’ve been working through the fear of feelings, the fear of being ‘unconditional’ and the fear of being ‘too much’ and I think I’ve made progress in that aspect especially through writing and art therapy. I feel like I’ve come to accept that I’m not ‘too much’ and come to terms with the idea of vulnerability. I think that’s something I like about myself, sensitivity, which makes it easier to accept.. but it’s still hard to implement. It’s hard to accept feelings when it comes so naturally to block them out. I’ve been feeling so many feelings over the past few weeks and I realise (and Dr Kelly pointed out) that I’m wracked with this constant helplessness, the feeling that I can’t cope and don’t know how to cope. But that’s not true.
Throughout August I’ve been so overwhelmed by so many feelings and not knowing what to do. At the end of August, as I was reflecting, I realised that I’m still holding onto the ED in some ways because I’m still scared of emotions, and I still struggle to accept them– I asked Dr Kelly how to cope with them and she literally asked me to accept them instead of trying to get rid of them. I didn’t realise I was still doing that. I suppose it’s still a process. I have to keep working on accepting them unconditionally- especially the intense or negative emotions. I feel like I always tell myself ‘yeah it’s okay to feel anything’ but I don’t truly apply it.
I have to start by taking small steps, to at least acknowledge pain, that there are hard things I’ve been through, that everything I’m going though is hard. That takes a lot of self compassion.
She said this back then, “this (recovery) is going to be really really hard for you and that’s how it is and the more we can accept that, the easier it is.” And she always reminds me that I rationalise emotions, that’s how I cope, so I have to make an effort to feel and acknowledge them, to sit with them. By being ‘black and white’ in recovery and ignoring small steps, by writing about feelings analytically (I feel the need to ‘wrap up’ everything I write to package it ‘nicely’), by being perfectionistic and having ‘unrelenting standards’ for myself- I can’t be unconditional. And I can’t recover or be unconditional in one aspect, I have to do it for all- food, life, emotions. Because part of my perfectionism is having that ‘facade’, that need to stay okay and put-together even with myself, I can’t usually allow myself to be a mess or be broken. We’ve been working on that perfectionism for so many years, that belief of unworthiness.
I’ve been feeling awful things this week, and she pointed out that this is how it’s going to be for a while for me and that’s okay. It’s okay. The only way to get through the anxiety is to sit with it.
I know. And that includes the anxiety that comes from breaking my rules, from being imperfect. I just have to let go of all control and let whatever feelings come, come. She says I struggle with anxiety, but I never thought I was a very anxious person..? But now I realise that I’m not anxious because of the rules I have and the ED- it buffers a lot of anxiety and fear that I have about everything else in life, and about myself. It buffers the belief of unworthiness. Now that I realise this I have to keep pushing to feel the anxiety and fear more and sit through it. Recovery isn’t passive. It’s actively having to fight to allow and embrace feelings unconditionally and it’s often to do what makes me uncomfortable.
I have to remember that, and do that. To sit with myself and let myself feel without having to ‘wrap it up’. To just accept and acknowledge that it’s hard. To validate my feelings. To let the feeling out in some way because otherwise I will end up using a negative Behavior. I said I was tired of trying to control everything- it is tiring. Very much so. Yet I seem to have an iron grip of control on everything anyway and I have to keep fighting to let go. I have to keep going back to myself and trying to be honest with myself. To look at myself and my wounds even though it hurts like hell. Dr Kelly said yesterday I have to be fair to myself and acknowledging that there have been big things that have happened in my life, and painful things, and things that weren’t fair. I’ve been in denial/dissociated about it all, like I told her in therapy yesterday. Perhaps that’s how to help me heal some of this dissociation? I connect with my body by doing yoga, nourishing it, listening to it (well, I’m trying to) and likewise I have to connect to my soul by listening to it, acknowledging it, giving it what it needs. It’s hard, but it’s going to be okay. I am supporting myself. It’s okay to be sad, to be in my body, to exist. I have to be compassionate with myself. My feelings and struggle is real.
She asked me why I’ve made the big decision to commit to recovery, behaviourally. I told her that despite how hopeless I feel, I must want to live really badly because why else would I have survived all that I’ve survived? Why else would I have kept going? I know, it doesn’t feel like me. None of what has happened in my life, actually feels like it happened to me. At best, I remember it like a movie, or I remember it through intrusive memories. I suppose that’s how dissociation works, none of my life feels like it actually happened to me. But it was me. It was me and I have to start acknowledging that.
So yes, all of that has happened to me, my life has been painful. Really really painful. I haven’t acknowledged any of it, much less processed it- but this is a step. And I just feel like I do deserve to live. That I have somehow fought to survive through all of this, that has to mean something, and I would be letting myself down if I didn’t. Well, my healthy self feels that way at least. I deserve to be okay. Dr Kelly said that I deserve to have real relationships, to have intimate relationships, to be okay/better- that it will be a rocky road but I can get there. I really do believe that she believes I deserve it. And I trust her, so so much.