Fat is NOT a feeling!
When I saw that this was the prompt today, and that we were supposed to write about the emotions that are under the automatic thought/reaction/statement of I FEEL FAT! I...kinda laughed. Because I have had so, SO many conversations about this with my mom/therapist/husband/cat/younameit. And during these conversations, I was usually stoutly refusing to believe that I felt ANYTHING but fat. Irrevocably fat. Fortunately for you, (yay!) I've matured an eensy bit, so I can give you a little bit more insight into this. Maybe.
I still remember quite clearly one of the first times I had a conversation about this. I had just landed myself in inpatient treatment for my anorexia, and my therapist (who I didn't yet know very well) was asking me how I felt. Now, you have to remember that therapy of any kind, and ANY treatment, not just for eating disorders, was completely new to me. I didn't even think I had an eating disorder! And so I really and truly did not understand what my therapist was trying to get at, when she asked me what I was feeling. And I automatically responded with, "I FEEL FAT."
Her: But what are you feeling BENEATH that?
Me: (puzzled) No, seriously. They gave us HAMBURGERS for lunch. I'm feeling fat.
Her: I understand you think you are fat. But how are you feeling?
Me: I just told you! (a little irritated)
Her: Did you know that fat isn't a feeling? And I'm trying to ask you about what you are feeling. You are saying you feel fat, but what I'm trying to tell you, is that you are really feeling insecure, or sad, or anxious, or angry, but because you have an eating disorder, your mind is trying to protect you, and shield you from those emotions, so instead you are focusing on your body and saying you feel fat. But I think you are really feeling things that are much more complex than that.
Me: (flatly) That is the stupidest thing I've ever heard.
I was a real gem back then, guys. :)
But it's true. For so long, it was so hard for me to understand the emotions beneath the body stuff. Even now, though I know better, and I know when I'm focusing on my body or my size or my weight or what I just ate, I know that something else is going on, and I know that my mind is fighting and fighting not to have to deal with some uncomfortable emotion, but it still gets me. Even ten years later. Still, in therapy, when we're talking about something that makes me nervous or embarrassed or scared, I'll start looking down at myself, and looking at how my thighs look all gooshed up on her sofa, and I'll focus on my giant boobs that are so big moons could be oribting them, but then usually, USUALLY, I can catch myself, and exclaim "HOLY CRAP I JUST DID IT AGAIN. I'M FOCUSING ON MY BODY AND MY MOON BOOBS AND MY GROSS FATNESS (my interpretation, usually not correct) BECAUSE I DON'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT ALL THE STUFF THAT MAKES ME FEEL GROSS AND UNCOMFY.
And you know what? It's pretty cool that I can recognize that now. I would say that I am recovering from my eating disorder, but getting hit by the I FEEL FAT bug can still get me. I can recognize it now, and flick it off me, but it still alights on me every now and then.
So now to the part I've been avoiding - what am I feeling, when I think I'm feeling fat? Well, I'm usually feeling the emotions that are most uncomfortable for me to feel, which is, first and foremost, anger. And then usually shame. And then maybe some insecurity thrown in for good measure, and a dash of humiliation, and maybe a pinch of anxiety. Or an entire truckload.
But, I am getting better at allowing myself to feel those things, when they come up. I still hate it, not gonna lie, but the I FEEL FAT declarations are slowly getting a little fewer and farther inbetween as I navigate this recovery thing with my fam and my therapist and with all of you.
Anyway, I gotta go. I'm feeling kinda fat. ;)