from a journal after a hard day: “my eating disorder makes me angry, mean, full of sharp edges, wholly self-centered, and judgmental as hell.”
i suppose this is true for almost everyone who struggles; i know it’s true for me. catch me around a binge; i’m not a pleasant person to encounter. i’m angry and short-tempered, and i lash out in an effort to mitigate my guilt and self-hatred. i want people to hurt when i hurt. i want someone to blame.
i try to bury my rage but it seeps out in snide comments, unrelenting sarcasm, and bon mots that are neither kind nor witty.
we want it to be someone else’s fault, the bad things that happen. the challenges. i want someone else to be responsible. i want my choices to be because of “them” though who the “them” are is often unclear. i want the consequences of my choices to be on someone else’s head.
i don’t want to acknowledge that i hold some of the responsibility. i prefer to lay blame elsewhere for the events that contributed to my current reality but i, too, made choices that contributed. still, i resist and resent having to bear my share.
the idea that life is something that happens to you and is wholly out of your control is not compatible with change and healing.
what’s important to remember, i suppose, is that the choices i made, while often negative, have had at least one positive result; i’m still here. i need to hold onto that thought when i start to rage.
we can do incredible things when we believe our existence is under threat. we can do strange, damaging, and harmful things when driven by our need to survive. maladaptive responses but effective ones because we live.
i have done amazing and horrible things in the service of my eating disorder. when put into a position where i had to chose between my eating disorder and something or someone else, the former won out, every time.
i’ve stolen from people and businesses. i’ve ignored and abandoned friendships. i’ve taken advantage of family. i’ve been nasty when people have reached out to help and countered their efforts with enraged resistance. “i’m fine” and “nothing is wrong” was the mantra i pushed out through clenched teeth.
no help was wanted because to admit that i needed it was to admit that i was in trouble. to admit that i needed help was to admit to feeling ashamed, to admit to feeling like a failure. anger is easier.
anger often comes from shame. it was that shame that kept me from reaching out and shame that tries to pull me back. it drives the mean, and the sharp, and the judgmental. i want it gone. i want to be free. i want to believe that our historic choices and actions don’t make us bad people.
you can’t deride or criticize your shame away. there is not enough anger in the world to drive it out. in life, negatives don’t cancel each other out.
it’s hard to look at my behaviours and believe it when i tell myself that i did the best i could. it’s hard to remember i tried. it’s much easier to say to stay angry with the past.
anger and shame hold you back and drag you down. they keep you stuck. i know this is true, i can feel it in my bones, but still, letting go is difficult. it’s akin to cutting a longtime friend out of your life, albeit an extremely unhealthy and dysfunctional one.
there’s no magic trick. i waited years for one. the truth is, you just do. i’m divorcing decades of anger. i’m tired of being mean, angry, sharp, and self-centered. i’m tired of the rage. i want the calm that comes from self-acceptance instead.
one day a healthier thought pattern will come more naturally, or rather, i hope it will. i hope practice does make perfect. changing your thoughts and habits is not unlike breaking in a new pair of shoes. it can take time for the fit to become comfortable but in the end, you love them and so the effort is worth it.
(march 1, 2018 )
photo credits: mikailain/graphic river/envato; cr emerge positive; shutterstock