Protection in emptiness
Eating Disorders and Personality Disorder
Chapter 4 – Frozen
So, this is the first chapter of several in which I want to explore some of the things my eating disorders “provided” to me as a way of coping.
Please note a lot of the thoughts in this post are from my eating disorder and my psychosis and BPD – they are not ways in which I’m advocating thinking and I’m not saying that starvation is a good thing even though it did have a purpose for me. I’m in therapy partly to find other ways to cope rather than turning to methods that hurt me.
Emotions are frightening. Feeling is frightening. Feeling with such intensity is deeply painful and more suffocating and gripping than I can stand. Needing is not allowed, greedy, out of control, dangerous. My body and my longing centre that wants all these things (love, comfort, that I am good enough, that I can be safe, understanding, a parent, security, home, someone there…) is despised and resented. Inside me is evil, bad and ugly and it might get out. I want and I hurt and I do harm, I’m a liar and a fraud and I punish and it all comes out when I don’t even know.
If i dont feel it’ll be alright. If I don’t feel then I can walk one day more. If only the pain of knowing everyone around me feels so much will go away. If I can stop hurting them. If I can get away, because I so need to get away and shut off and sleep. I need the thoughts and the voices to stop. I need out and away from the terrible things I can feel all the time, that hit me and grip me and tell me I’ve caused hurt yet again.
There’s one thing that stops it. Don’t eat. Go on. Just a little bit longer. Stick to the plan of what you’ll eat. Count the tiny crackers out. Slow as you can take the tiniest pieces. Stick to it all and you’ll be rewarded with wonderful emptiness. Even go longer than you planned before you eat, by the minute then the hour. .. and the emptiness will grow and the high will rush through your body leading and lifting you to a higher and whiter and emptier place.
Keep going. You can keep going now. The starvation opens the door to aclosed off, frozen place. It’s good there. The thoughts and the needing and wanting and feeling stop. All you need is empty and all you feel is cold and numb and closed away.
It’s your place alone. You’re alone and safe. The voices are silent for now and you needn’t engage with anything your body or heart demands because you’re separated from those disgusting needy screams. In your frozen place the pain has dimmed and everyone else is safe too because you’ve gone well away.
Starvation created that empty place, as though it carved it away in your mind and it’s a sure retreat for you alone. Stick to rules and emptiness and no temptation and you will stay safe there. However frozen cold it is there and however much you feel your energy slipping away and your heart pounding and your muscles weakening, it is too dangerous to leave it. The feeling and needing (yours and others’) and consuming demands are just too dangerous. The emptiness and starvation has carved out this safe place and consumes more and more of your mind, like a cave in rock that becomes bigger and bigger, empty but consuming its surroundings with the very emptiness, so that it becomes harder and harder to leave.
To recover you are drawn slowly from this place or something throws you out of it forcibly and it is taken from you.
However much I am thankful to be recovered from the terrible physical effects of anorexia and the destruction it caused to the lives of those who care for me, a big part of me still wishes that this frozen place hadn’t disappeared. In my recovery I consciously said goodbye to this place as I knew I had to leave it. I cried for it. It hurt me and my loved ones badly yet also it had protected me.
Now without my eating disorder the terror of all the feeling and consuming is around me and there isn’t any escape. And added to it is knowing that I “should” be fine, better, out of danger. Out of physical danger, yes, but ironically into pain beyond what I know how to stand, although I also know how very weak I am not to be able to stand what others deal with day to day, and that adds still more to guilt and longing for escape.
Perhaps my therapy will show me how to walk through these out of control feelings and how to continue when there is no escape and no freezing out.