Have you ever noticed that when someone is going through a hard time they start to show physical signs of distress? They might look tired or lose weight or just seem to lack the same energy which they once possessed.
For some people, this decline in physical health is an unintentional result of an emotional or physical ailment. For me though it is a cry for help. I use my body to say the things that I can’t put into words. For so long I hid secrets behind a picture perfect exterior. I looked healthy and happy until I just couldn’t hold it together anymore. I turned to cutting and starvation to put what I was feeling emotionally into a physical form. I still hid the cuts and wore baggy clothes to disguise my weight loss, but for me it was enough to get out the emotions even if nobody else noticed.
Of course, people eventually did notice; how could they not. The scars were difficult to conceal and you would have had to be blind not to see the drastic change in my weight. But even when people started asking questions I kept my true suffering a secret. My self-harm and eating disorder stopped being about showing other people how much my emotional pain hurt and started being about control. Only I could control my weight and the number of cuts on my body.
Since working towards recovery though I find myself slipping back into using my body as a tool to communicate my pain. Even after nearly 9 months free of self-harm I still struggle with the urge to cut every time I am forced to face the painful memories of my past. Even though I’ve been in therapy for nearly two years I still struggle with disordered eating as a way to show people how much I am struggling. Whether or not people actually notice is irrelevant. What matters is the fact that it lets me express my pain in a way that words will never be able to. It’s like I’m screaming “LOOK AT WHAT I’M GOING THROUGH. LOOK HOW MUCH PAIN I’M IN”!
I used to think that this really didn’t make sense. I thought I was lying to myself to make it okay to continue hurting myself. But then I talked to my therapist about this and she helped me understand that it makes sense. I used to be ashamed of my issues because I thought I was being manipulative. Thankfully, my therapist being the wonderful woman that she is helped me recognize that my actions were actually logical, even if they weren’t exactly healthy. So now my goal becomes finding a way to express those emotions without using my body as the outlet. I don’t know how to do this yet, but I’m definitely going to fight like hell to find out.