You just ate too much. You can feel it in your belly. It feels large, extra large, and is starting to hurt. You yell at yourself for eating too much. “I can’t believe I did that again”; “You are a fat pig, pathetic, gross.” You begin to panic and think up a way to get rid of it. You know how… just stick your finger down your throat and let it all come up. There, that would make it all go away, this big fat, gross, disgusting feeling. You can’t stand it anymore, you have to do it. Hurry!
When it is over, you feel relief, empty, back in control. Oh, sure, you may also feel shame about letting it happen again. But that feeling of being in control again trumps all of that. You are back on track.
Or are you?
Not everyone with disordered eating patterns uses vomiting to control their overeating. And, some that do, don’t rely on it all the time. Some people exercise to get rid of the binge. Some promise never to do it again. Some go to sleep. Some just beat themselves up verbally. In each case, the binge is bad and the purge is good. It is control. It is “I’m okay now.”
But what if it’s the other way around. In my last newsletter “Your Eating Disorder Wants to Tell You Something” I talked about the binge part of you as the healthy part. It is fighting against what the purge part of you wants to do.
Both parts have the same goal in mind… to help you cope with your feelings. The binge helps you stuff them down. The purge helps you throw them up. If it is vomiting that you do, imagine all the bad feelings you have about yourself being thrown into the toilet. They come right out of you and get to be flushed into the sewer, never to be seen again. Phew!
Exercising it off does the same thing. You are good, in control, praised. You don’t feel those bad things about yourself, the things you feel when you binge, things that are always there, just under the surface.
Sleeping after a binge brings peace, quiet, and escape from the emotions. Hating yourself after a binge relieves the pressure, promises a new start, a different you.
What do you do to purge? How does it help you get rid of your feelings?
You know this story. The binge returns. Again. And again. And again. But the purge follows too so somehow it seems okay.
But you know it isn’t. Inside, you still hate yourself. You still feel all the shame, sadness, anger, hurt, and fear you did before. But now you also hate what you are doing to yourself. You want out. But how?
Feel your feelings. That’s how.
I know, it isn’t as simple as it sounds.
Feeling your feelings is hard because you weren’t really taught how, you resist feeling your emotions, and they feel so big, like they might never stop. This can be scary stuff. However, it is the way out of your eating disorder and perhaps it is easier than you think.
In next month’s newsletter I will talk more about why you avoid your feelings and how to get around that.