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…and isn’t it ironic?

April 6, 2010

This whole concept, “Voice, Not Bodies”, was hammered away at me during recovery. It’s the whole principle of recovery, it’s what everyone learns. Use your voice, not your body. Express your feelings in words, not through behaviors. And it makes total sense. You have to learn this principle in order to move through recovery. And usually when you’re in the beginning phases of recovery, it works just fine. Everyone jumps for joy each time you say “I’m sad” or “Can we talk?” or “I’m feeling kind of anxious right now”, and encourages you to talk, listens to you, hears everything you say.

Then, you move further away from that initial phase, and while you’re still using Voices not Bodies, people kind of…forget about it, I guess. Or think it’s not as necessary any more. So, a few things happen. One is that you start to feel dumb for expressing emotion. If you don’t have a reason to be feeling anxious, if you’re just having a day like that, you feel like there’s no reason to express it. What’s the point of saying “I’m just in a funk”? People don’t know how to respond to that, and it’s awkward. The next thing that happens is that even if you DO express emotion, people just don’t care. And it’s probably not because they’re doing it maliciously, but they forget that it’s still significant for you to be doing this. So if you say “I’m just a horrible mood”, the response stops being “Do you want to talk about it?” and it becomes “I’m sorry”. Because people just assume that since it’s not for a huge awful reason, you can handle it by yourself. Or they don’t respond at all, because they figure that since you’re in recovery, and not going to go starve yourself or throw up, you’ll be fine.

And yes, you CAN handle it yourself. But you don’t always want to! What, just because you’re in recovery, means you can’t have support from others? I just do so much better with support and listening ears. Not 24/7, like I used to require, but if I’m having a bad day, I like someone to listen to me about it and talk with me about it. If they don’t, it’s fine. I’ll deal and move on. But is it really so bad for me to like having people there? Does that make me pathetic? Do I need to just accept that in my life, it’s not going to be realistic to get support when I need it, and I’ll have to take it when I’m lucky to have it?

Anyway, so that puts you in kind of a tough situation. Because the only way to really grab someone’s attention is to say “I need to talk to you” very explicitly. But that doesn’t work because then you feel like an idiot, when the person starts worrying and assumes something is wrong, and your explanation is just “I just needed someone to be there for me today”. You just feel dumb, and that causes a whole lot of OCD spinning, and it ends up being a pointless conversation, because they’re annoyed that you took time out of their day and made them worry for no reason. And you got their attention, but at a cost.

The point of all of this, is that it’s just ironic. Because if I lost weight, people would absolutely start asking me “What’s going on? Do you want to talk? I’m here for you, let me know if you need anything”. And I wouldn’t have had to say a thing! If I didn’t eat lunch, people would react the same way. Or if I over-exercised. Or anything along those lines. Swarms of people would come out of the woodwork, ready to listen and support me. So, if I don’t use my body and use my words, like I’m supposed to, I rarely get the support and end up feeling pathetic and like a fraud. But if I use my body, like I’m not supposed to, I get exactly what I need.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 10, 2010 3:53 am

    I’ve not yet come across the “voices, not bodies” discussion in therapy, but I read your post the other day and it’s been playing over in my mind ever since. Today at Bikram, I think it started to make sense to me and I realised how I do this…and started to think about bodies as just bodies, rather than a way to vent my frustration, anxiety, disappointment, fear or stress. I’ve realised how I show what I’m feeling, rather than talk about it.

    I think that how you’re feeling makes total sense. It’s like when you gain a little bit of weight after an eating disorder, everyone thinks that you are OK now and you don’t need the same kind of support. You look OK, therefore you must be better. It’s always more complicated than that. My therapist said to me during my first session that my weight would not be any indication of how I was going in my head and I really appreciated that she understood that. Anyway…I hope that you can get the support that you need. Thinking of you. Nova xx

    • April 11, 2010 6:28 pm

      Thanks for your comment. It does feel similar to that day when I hit my target weight and then began panicking that people would assume things were fine again. I hope that you continue to be able to think of bodies just as that–bodies, and find healthy means for voicing your feelings! Take care.

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