On anger

My task this week, per my therapist CCL (the Crazy Cat Lady- I'm one, too, so this is said with no judgement), is to get mad at the eating disorder.

I have no problems getting mad at myself- which, in fact, goes quite a long way in explaining why I have an eating disorder. I expect to much of myself blah blah blah, and then I feel bad because I can never fulfill these ridiculous expectations.

Unless, of course, it's about losing weight. Or eating less or exercising more- whatever. The problem is that if achieving this weight loss was so easy, then it really wasn't an accomplishment. So I had to lose more weight.

Enter Ed, stage left.

Even after all of these years- going on year 8 right about now- I have never actually gotten pissed off at anorexia. Most of that time, I wasn't even aware of an entity known as "anorexia." It was ME. I was the problem. But once I realized that I had an illness, I still never got mad at the eating disorder. I feel helpless, much of the time. The voice seems bigger than life, and I struggle with doing recovery-oriented things when the voice kicks in big time.

I am mad that I have an eating disorder. Partly, I'm embarrassed. I feel dumb, I feel vain, I feel...well I don't know exactly how I feel. I'm mad I couldn't stop it, I'm mad that I sought treatment when I clearly could have lost more weight. All of these things.

But mad at the eating disorder itself? Not really.

CCL says to look at the things that I've lost because of the anorexia. Like any sort of semblance of normality. Money for treatment. Friends. Time- good God, the time!

I feel a little bit sad, but not one drop of anger. Mostly numbness.

What am I supposed to do about it?

I know the anger is supposed to help me fight Ed even harder, give him the total boot from my life.

I just can't feel that anger.

I think: maybe if I had something to compare it to. Like compare "now" to sometime before the eating disorder, to when a trip down the cereal aisle wouldn't leave me gibbering in fear. When a can of soup was a can of soup, and not a treacherous Nutrition Facts label with calories and carbs, fat grams and sodium.

I remember that these things existed, these cans of soups and journeys down Aisle Nine, but I don't remember what they were. I don't remember that feeling. It has simply...vanished. Should I be mad that simple things like this are fraught with difficulties? Probably. But I'm not. I just shrug my shoulders and try to get on with things.

Is this bad? I feel somehow defective that I can't get more emotionality behind my feelings about my eating disorder. I know I am still scared of it. I know that much.

I can almost totally cut myself off from my feelings, even when I'm not neck-deep in behaviors. I can function at a surface level. But it's almost as if I lock a part of myself away, insulate it from the almost certain deluge of feelings that will overtake me. This means that, almost inevitably, I lock away the happy feelings, but that hasn't been much of a big deal in the past, you know, decade or so.

My advisor said that if I hadn't told her about the eating disorder in the writing samples I submitted to the program, she never would have guessed. I know that's a good thing, but I still didn't know quite how to take it.

So. This getting-mad-at-the-eating-disorder-thing. How do I go about doing it? I can easily do it on the behalf of others, because their suffering is so obviously greater than my own (I know, I know- this makes no sense, but it's true. So there.). I almost feel I've earned the pain and suffering. Kind of like "girls who play with fire are going to get burned." I've gotten burned, and it hurts, and I don't deny it. But I feel- just a little bit- like I kind of asked for it.

We'll see how long I let those last 3 or 4 sentences up.

Hitting publish.

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Laura Collins said...

I get it. I get what you are saying. I also think that the fact that you are saying it, and hitting publish, are a way of getting it all external enough to prod and poke it.

I felt this way or something similar about depression at one time. As the depression became less of my whole, I was faced with re-evaluating all the things I'd thought I deserved to be depressed by. And some of them didn't suck as much on re-evaluation. And that didn't feel good.

My daughter reported this, too. If she didn't HAVE TO be angry at certain things then what the hell was all that crash and burn about?

It took some distance, but it got better - pretty rapidly - once feeling better got to be its own reward.

Jeanne said...

Hey carrie,

I, too, have a hard time getting in touch with my anger - no matter to whom/what the anger is directed.

For me, my eating disorder has a face - the face of my abuser. So I get angry at him for causing me to cope with the pain and hurt he inflicted upon me by "contracting?" an eating disorder.

What helps me is to get some really angry music (email me your address and I'll send you a copy of my mix) and shadow box (imagining my abuser is the shadow, natch.) Perhaps if you give the eating disorder a face or a form you could channel your anger into it? [It takes time and practice. I wasn't able to feel the anger flow the first dozen times I tried, but now, I have no problem beating the crud out of the shadow.]

thinking of you with lots of love,

mary said...

I know you are capable of anger....remember those dieters who just wouldn't shut up?
I think that we all experience anger differently. I know I find myself feeling passionate about certain causes and will write them to death. It may be that you, Laura, and others do the same damn thing.
Before I had the internet I used journals, which I still do when I'm really in need of venting.
Maybe you don't have to have an all out brawl at ED, maybe walking away is in your best interest. Isn't living well the best revenge?
I like empowering music...."When I'm out in the street I walk the way I want to walk"....that gives me energy.
You'll figure out what you need to do. I have a *feeling*/******

Sarah said...

Hey, Carrie, I relate so much to this post. So. Much. I need to figure it out a little more but I wanted to tell you that I was here and I hear you.


Faith said...

I have to say I am also a lot angrier at myself than the disorder. The "I asked for it" part. Oh yeah. I totally hear you.


Sarah said...

Okay, I'm back.

For the longest time I thought I wasn't an angry person. I just don't get mad about stuff like that, I would say. I just don't hold onto things. I don't hold grudges. Etc etc etc.

I was totally lying, most of all to myself. I am learning this the longer I stay sober and the more I work on my Fourth Step (a searching and fearless moral inventory -- you start by making a list of resentments).

Almost every resentment I have on my list involves someone "doing me wrong" and me not doing anything about it. And that made me angry, angry, angry! But I turned all that anger inward. I didn't think I was worth expressing anger over -- that I was worth rocking the boat. And I drank over it. Without even knowing that was what I was doing. . .

I'm learning how to stand up for myself, now. Against people and institutions, yes, but also against my disease. It lies to me and I can get mad about that, now. It's hard. But slowly, I'm learning and practicing.

Righteous anger is a powerful and beautiful thing. I'm glad you're starting to tap into it.


carrie said...

Thank you all for your kind comments. I'll do a longer blog post tonight with my follow-up thoughts.


Dreaming again said...

Anger scares me. Fear scares me ...

I can be happy ... I can be joyous ... but negative emotions?

I find them harder.

Everyone keeps asking me if I'm ok ..yeah, why wouldn't I be? My husband is sick and my mom is in the hospital ...of coarse I'm ok ..right?

What do you need? Nothing ... absolutely nothing. Can I bring you some food? NO! Eeeks the furiosity (is that a word?) with which I said that ...I'm surprised I didn't break the glass in the hospital windows!

Anger? Fear? frustration?

Who me?

nah ...sigh

zubeldia said...

Hi Carrie, I'm really interested to follow this blog entry and the comments you receive. Growing up I was pretty angry, and I started to slowly suffocate it, first, by drinking, and then through starving. Like Sarah, I don't feel like an angry person, yet I have a feeling that it is underneath, eating away at me... and that, again like the lovely Sarah, I don't feel as though I am worth getting angry over...

How are you getting on with the assignment?

Love Z

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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Have any questions or comments about this blog? Feel free to email me at carrie@edbites.com

nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


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