As a child if anger overwhelmed, I would squeeze my fingers into my hands to make the tightest of fists, harshly close my eyes, and tense all the muscles in my body until I’d start to shake. I would do that until I couldn’t anymore. Often, I’d cry after. But I generally felt some release. I found this anger-release tactic embarrassing, so of course I only did it when no one was in direct sight of me. Eventually, I found it too embarrassing to even do with myself as the only witness and didn’t replace it with anything else to safely let go of hard emotions.
On Thursday, standing, the palms of my hands met my therapist’s and I pushed into her hands as hard as I could. Twice. Thrice. It resulted in feeling completely exposed, tears hysterically flowed, and that escalated right into a panic attack that I was grateful to have had with my therapist instead of elsewhere. It was all at once empowering and awful.
What followed in the following days was a massive roller coaster of feeling brave, then angry and fearful, then depressed and anxious but grateful.
I have been up since 3am–wrought with anxiety. I’ve been on edge, feeling at any moment another panic attack will come. I couldn’t wait to get to therapy but also wanted to skip it altogether. All of this is unbelievably difficult. We did the hand-push move again this morning, and this time I felt a huge wave of emotional release. No panic attack. No shame. Just heat leaving my body, like it used to as a child.
I have to keep telling myself; this is my process and it is allowed to be received with compassion. From those that love me as well as myself.
I’ve never really wanted to just talk about what happened. Up until this point it has felt very forced (though maybe necessarily), I feel removed from the words I’m reading (when I’ve written it all down and then said it out loud), I can’t really connect with what I’m feeling, and it ends up being more frustrating than anything else for me. But today when I got home I wanted to keep talking. I wanted to talk about it like one might vent to their friend over coffee about a bad day they had.
Maybe it’s the anger part that’s coming up. Maybe I’ve moved beyond the deeply entrenched shame and guilt that consumed me just enough to get to anger. It’s easier to talk without feeling covered in a thick layer of shame.
I never thought I’d get here. I never thought I’d want to talk about it. I never thought I would think it would be ok to talk about it, or release it, or grieve it. My first thought when I realized this was wait, is this normal? It sounds a bit crazy to want to talk about trauma, right? I spent an entire decade forgetting it, now I want to undo that??
As I’m writing this I’m starting to feel sad. I think once I’ve let my guard down, I want to keep feeling like it’s ok to keep it down (to keep talking–which is exactly what I’m wanting right now) and I sort of don’t really know what to do from here in order to remain unguarded long enough so I can keep working through it. Long enough to not cling to eating disorder behaviors.
Or maybe that’s me trying to bypass the roller coaster I’m expecting and dreading, that I need to let come in whatever form it comes? Because I can’t expect myself to cold turkey stop maladaptive coping mechanisms and the eating disorder roller coaster is a much smaller ride lately.
The survival method I want to cling to is born out of pure love. The one that is easy to cling to is my eating disorder. It’s the difference in reaching out for validation and not judging myself for needing/wanting to know I’m loved, or ignoring all my emotions and starving myself.
I can keep choosing love.