When I give my body the opportunity, it speaks. Sometimes tiny bits of shattered puzzle pieces clinging to my nervous system escape into safety and sometimes several pieces already put together become exposed all at once. It’s always frightening. It’s always intense. It’s always incredibly healing.
I never believed my eating disorder was holding trauma hostage until I started learning about being stuck in fight or flight and that human bodies don’t stay stuck in uncomfortable states like that for so long on purpose. There are reasons for these things.
On Friday I walked straight to my area of my therapist’s closet. I pulled 15 pounds of weighted blanket over as much of my body as I could. Before I’d left the house, my childhood bunny happened to be right next to my purse where my daughter left it and something told me to put it in my purse to bring, so I did. Adult-me thinks this is ridiculous but I’ve done plenty of things adult-me is embarrassed by in therapy so I grabbed it anyway.
I didn’t have an agenda (I usually don’t) when I walked in at 9am, instead, I simply felt ready. As if I unconsciously knew I’d need to be extra willing. Eating disorder behaviors and urges had taken over much of the previous 7 days and I’m noticing when that happens, my eating disorder is either directly responding to something traumatic that recently happened, or, buried trauma is trying to get out.
In the closet, clutching my bunny and inches away from my therapist, I said “I think this is a weird place to be holding emotion, but I really feel something in my arms.” It didn’t make any sense to me and I didn’t have any thoughts attached to the need to move my arms in that moment. But as soon as my therapist modeled using her arms to push something away, and verbally said as much, trauma came pouring out.
I panicked at first because the memory was so intense and felt so strong. I fled to the bathroom to escape and wanted to purge the Orgain I’d hastily finished minutes before. But I didn’t. Instead I sat on the toilet, peed, and took deep breaths. I gave myself permission to stay there in the bathroom for as long as I needed. But as I was attempting to flee my fear I quickly realized what I really needed and wanted was to usher little-me back to real safety—that closet, bunny, blanket, and most importantly: the compassionate human being waiting to let me collapse into her arms.
What followed was the panic attack that was buried from trying to escape this very specific memory. I have no recollection of what I was doing with my arms during all of that but it is the only part of my body that is sore today and I have done nothing else. My forearms are so sore anytime I move my wrists I am reminded of Friday and what ensued. And I am amazed and in awe that my body can do this—trust, release, heal—all on its own. I had no control over that. I just led myself back to safety so it could happen.
My eating disorder, anxiety, and depression serve as responses to trauma and that is called survival. I’m going to do my best not to judge my automatic survival responses. Grace is available for these moments. I’m just learning what parts of the story are being protected for survival. And I’m just learning that trust, safety, compassion—all of these have to be present before the puzzle pieces can come out. How incredible is my body for surviving, protecting, and now recognizing that it’s finally safe to heal?
If nothing else (and I’m quite positive there is a lot else), this deep dive has provided me with rediscovering things I’ve possessed all along but didn’t know how to uncover: trust, compassion, safety.
Thank you, God, for knowing exactly what I need when I need it and putting me on the hearts of everyone in my process. ❤️