She’s the girl with the smile always on her face. I honestly don’t think she ever gets mad. She is happy ALL the time. Those were just some of the descriptions of a girl who was always smiling no matter what happened, a girl who before everything else kept a smile on her face and always appeared happy. Yet, beneath the smile she was broken, she was sad, she was hurting but know one would have ever known, because she kept a beautiful smile on her face. Sound sad? It was and I know just how sad…because that girl was me…
When Ed and I became friends the first thing he taught me was to numb out to my feelings. For anyone who has ever had an eating disorder, we know that it is not just about the food. For me, every time I restricted I didn’t have to feel. I didn’t have to be aware of how much I was hurting. I allowed my feelings to go numb. Even the happiness that appeared to radiate from me was a desperate cry for help, but no one would have ever known because I didn’t let people see the hurt that I suffered daily.
When I first admitted I had a problem and began to seek help for it, I was terrified and one of the reasons I was most terrified was I was scared to feel. What if things hurt too bad, what if I got really sad, what if I got mad? Even more what if my feelings were silly? What if people thought they were crazy? What if they didn’t understand? What if they were uncontrollable? Ed had fed me so many lies about how it was better not to feel. He told me how I was only going to get let down if I let go of him. What I didn’t realize at the time was that not only was I not able to truly feel anything that could possibly hurt me, I also couldn’t experience true joy either. I couldn’t fully enjoy things. I wasn’t really happy.
There were so many events and situations that happened during my life with Ed that at the time I didn’t experience. From joyous occasions to terrible ones I wasn’t really there to feel them. Much of my problem revolved around the fact that not only was I numb but also I had been told for so long by Ed that my feelings were invalid. He told me I didn’t deserve to feel the way that I did and even more that everyone else thought the same that he did. He told me how to deal with it, by restricting, and therefore the cycle continued.
The other day I was put in a situation that was hurtful. It doesn’t matter what happened but suffice it to say I was hurt about it. My immediate reaction was to dismiss this hurt, to think MK you are overreacting. However, I know better than to do that. So I texted a sweet sister who understands my struggles better than anyone and I told her the situation. She texted me back immediately with not only encouragement and wise words but also you know what else she said?! She told me my feelings were valid and that I had every right to feel that way and not to tell myself any differently. I am so grateful for her (for an abundance of reasons but especially then!) because she was exactly right and she spoke truth to me. You see, it is not even the situation that matters it was the fact that I needed to allow myself to feel. It didn’t matter if someone else thought I was overreacting or silly. It didn’t matter if they didn’t understand. For the moment, I was sad, I was hurt, I was disappointed, I was confused. And you know what? It felt pretty incredible to be able to feel those things. Not because they are the most wonderful feelings but because I knew that I was really experiencing life and I also knew that I wasn’t numbing out. I also know that if I can feel those than I can also be genuinely happy and excited when amazing things happen. Once I was able to be hurt and feel those things I was also able to understand why and honestly felt better about it because I dealt with it.
Life isn’t always happy and wonderful, sometimes, a lot of times it is quite messy. However, I am okay with all of that now because I know that I am not checking out to life the bad or the good. It is hard sometimes though and just like the situation the other day, I I am not careful I have the tendency to dismiss my feelings when it seems to much. Whether you deal with an Ed or not I think it is so easy to be consumed with things in our lives that distract us from how we feel. It is painful many times and we don’t want to feel pain. We forget though that when we do that, we also don’t experience true joy either. We don’t allow ourselves to be real when we aren’t feeling. We don’t allow ourselves to be vulnerable. We worry others might not understand and might think we are being ridiculous. We forget that they are our feelings not anyone else’s and therefore no one should be able to dictate how we feel except us. When we allow ourselves to really feel we are truly experiencing life, we don’t stuff down issues that WILL come up later and I guarantee will be harder to deal with the next time around.
Maybe you’re the girl with the smile always on your face, maybe you are the one who doesn’t allow yourself to feel. Maybe you numb it, with or without food, maybe it is with another addiction, maybe it is with work, maybe you will happily deal with how others feel but not you…whatever it is, I just want to encourage you friend that your feelings are valid. Even more I want to tell you that no matter how scary you think it might be to start feeling, it will be worth it. Once you start experiencing life you truly get to live it! I may still have a smile on my face many times. However, I can guarantee though when it is there, it’s real and I want that for you too my friend…because you should ALWAYS REMEMBER…no matter how you are feeling…
YOU are LOVED and YOU are WORTH it!!