During my session this week I broached the subject of the anger I felt at my therapist for her speech on nutrition. I told her that I went on an eating bender that lasted days with the full knowledge that I would gain the weight back. I also told her about the brief conversation my husband and I had.
She accepted my anger quite well, telling me that anger is good which made me want to roll my eyes. She said that in cases where a client has an eating disorder, she always gives the “speech” at least once to educate them. I told her that I didn’t need it as I already know how to eat properly, I’m simply not doing it. She agreed. She seemed to pick up on a feeling that maybe I wasn’t in touch with, and that was my personal rights. She said that I have the right not to eat and to do what I want. I hadn’t realized until she said it that it was part of where my anger had come from. She said that nobody can make me do anything and to tell my husband that he’s wasting his breath trying to talk me out of it.
I think that maybe part of me needed to hear that I can’t be forced to do anything. Maybe.
I asked her why, if she thinks that something else is at the core of this, we’re not going over it? Her answer surprised me. She said that we can’t until my eating is back to normal. I was shocked as that seemed rather circular. She explained it. She said that I’m using the eating to distract me from things that I don’t want to think about: my mother, my uncle, the abuse etc. She said that as long as that distraction is there, I will never get at what’s at the core of the problem. That made me sad for some reason. I was sitting there listening to her and this feeling of deep sadness hit me briefly and then went away.
She was actually very empathetic at this point, almost like she realized that she needed to try to see where I’m coming from. She told a story which I actually found helpful in a way because it made her sound less judgmental.
She told me that she has realized over the years that she has a tendency to do OCD things when she’s anxious about something. It’s pure distraction and she’s learned to recognize the behavior. She told me when she realized this. She was anxious about something and at her house there was a whole box full of different size nails that had been there since she moved in. She doesn’t use tools and had never touched them, but some reason she felt the need to organize every single one of them into jars by size. It took her four days to do it but she couldn’t stop. It wasn’t until the last couple of hours of sorting that she thought to herself, “This is insane.” She said that’s when she understood what she was really doing; that she was distracting herself from what was making her anxious. She admitted that even when she realized the truth, she still had to finish it. She couldn’t stop. That was in the past and now she’s more mindful of when she’s trying to distract herself.
She told me that what I’m doing is an addiction and that sometimes people have to hit the bottom before they say, “This is insane.” So, she’s not pressuring me to fix my eating but she warned me that if I want to know the truth about what’s really going on, I’m going to have to make a choice at some point to stop.
That feels like a lot of pressure but I also feel disappointed in myself because I thought that I was making myself open to whatever feelings or memories would come. To be told that I’m not as open as I thought makes me annoyed and irritated with myself.
On the way home after the session, that deep sadness hit me again and this time it stayed for a while. I couldn’t figure out why I was sad because it felt like it was about more than the food thing. My eyes hurt and my breathing was off like I was going to cry. I didn’t but it stayed with me for a long time during the drive home. No matter what music I played, it just sat there. So I decided to sit with it and just feel it. I couldn’t cry but I did feel it and it hurt. It hurt a lot. I just wish I knew where it came from.
The odd thing was that, for the next 24 hours or so after the session, when I tried to eat I felt nauseous but I also felt that sadness hit me. Literally, each time I took a bite of food, my eyes would feel heavy and I would feel like crying. I would swallow and the sadness would go, then I would pick up my fork to take another bite and it repeated. This lasted the whole next day. It was very strange to have sadness come and go with the fork. But I sat with it when it happened.
I think tears are probably a good thing sometimes, but mine refuse to come.