I’ve always been a serious person. I had fun – I remember laughing and goofing off as a kid, even in college. But somewhere along the lines I decided not only is it my job to tell myself what I should and shouldn’t eat, I also decided what feelings I should and shouldn’t have. Categorizing food as good and bad translated into categorizing emotions and feelings and experiences as good and bad. Because of that, I’ve missed out on life.
So many times we focus on the physical effects of eating disorders. We can all spout the health risks and if you read anything about eating disorders, it’s always focused on the symptoms and the effects on our bodies. Sometimes articles mention the other disorders that often co-exist with eating disorders. But so rarely do we talk about the emotional impact. The isolation, the fear, the numbness, the obsessions… when we are living life with ED, we are not living. In recovery, I know that there is freedom – freedom from the rigidity and fear that has ruled my life. I know that there is a freedom to feel my feelings and not judge them as good or bad or frightening or scary. They are what they are.
Losing the ability to be free – to feel everything, including joy – has robbed me of life. I’ve lost time to my eating disorder that I will never get back. The only thing I can do about that is acknowledge it, and move forward. It’s hard to laugh at myself, let alone my eating disorder – I’m not sure I can do that yet. But I realize how important joy, love, laughter, and happiness are to life, and I don’t want to miss out anymore. And if that means watching Three Stooges with my kids, or telling fart jokes, or singing Karaoke off-key, I’m ok with that.