My Journey from Discovery to Acceptance to Change
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Hope Through Authenticity

Eating Disorder: A Study in Grief

“Recovery is a lifestyle. You have to change how you see the world and how you see yourself.” ~ The Shadows We Hide by Allen Eskens

If you had the chance to read my last post, Back To Therapy, you know my Eating Disorder has reared her ugly head again. I was naïve to think I had vanquished her.

I’ve spent the last several weeks ashamed and embarrassed. I had underestimated the monster’s power and overestimated my control. What I couldn’t understand was why she returned?

Why oh Why is the Monster Back?

I also mentioned that I found a new therapist. She’s got quite a personality and she’s a little more direct than I’ve had in the past. In our first session, we chatted for a while. It felt like one of those chats we have when we first meet someone – kind of superficial question and answer. That was fine with me. I needed to “feel” her out too. But then she dropped a bomb …

Kapow!

Towards the end of our session, she put down her pen, sat her notepad on the chair. She leaned forward and said, “You lost both parents six months ago. Did you not notice that’s when your Eating Disorder re-ignited? This is grief.”

I felt stupid and relieved. Of course, that made perfect sense! I never cried about my parents. I rarely even think about them. I see their picture or something they gave me, and I don’t have any emotional response. I’ve been numb*. Now, I see, I’ve only been numb because I’ve fed my feelings rather than feeling the loss.

Now What

Okay, that’s quite helpful, right? Apparently not, because receiving that revelation has not soothed my monster. She still wants potato chips and chocolate in great quantity. She still has no interest in shoving something healthy in her mouth. She still doesn’t bother to wait on hunger – shit, my monster has never experienced true hunger.

I don’t know how to grieve. Tears won’t come just because someone tells me to grieve. Their picture is to my left and looking at it doesn’t fill me with sadness.

But I’m Not Numb, Am I?

Another revelation from therapy is that there is no such thing as ‘numb’. According to her, our emotions change every 1/15th of a second. We are never ‘emotionless’. I’m not sure how to process that information because I feel numb.

Now that I’m writing this, I realize maybe I do have one over-riding emotion about my parents dying – guilt! I feel guilty that I don’t feel anything else.

Until I grieve, my monster may not go back in her cage. What would grief look like for someone like me? It’s not so much that I don’t like to cry (which I don’t) but it’s more that I don’t have an urge to cry. I can’t seem to switch the grief button on. We had no service for either parent (as they requested). But, would having a service been a signal for my mind and body to start grieving?

And now – after writing the sentence above – I feel alone and afraid.

Cold and Callous?

What’s wrong with me that I don’t seem to care that I lost both parents? What’s wrong with me that never seeing my parents again doesn’t make me sad? What’s wrong with me – am I that cold and callous? My parents were nice people who did a lot for me. They deserve my grief and sadness. I deserve to grieve, right?

As many of you know, my husband edits these blogs. Oftentimes, he leaves me comments. I wanted to share this one:

It may seem that you don’t care, but I believe you do care.  It was complicated for you as your living relationship with them was tough – especially your Mom.  You care but there is also a sense of relief:  On the good side, neither one had to suffer horribly or for extended periods of time.  And, with your Mom – there is also relief of no more instances where she hurt your feelings or she makes you mad, etc. 

I don’t think my ED monster will talk to me until I find a way through this grief process. I feel very defeated because knowing what to do doesn’t make doing it easy.

I think I need a unique way to sink into grief but I can’t find one. Do you have any suggestions?

Download the Journaling Activity HERE which accompanies this blog. I encourage you to work on and process some of these feelings for yourself.

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    June with Purple Hair

    In April 2012 I had a mental breakdown. The real thing. I have about 36 hours that I don’t remember....

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