I used to hate the word “nourish.” I thought it was gross and gluttonous. I believed that starving represented willpower. Even when I had enough “willpower” to go entire days without eating, I still felt empty. I was overly emotional from starvation and exhausted, yet my emotions had no way of expressing themselves. It was as if the emotions took up more space than I did. They filled my stomach, my entire body, and every breath I exhaled was smothered in emotion. They intoxicated me and paralyzed me. I could not express my emotions without being overtaken by fear.
Ironically, I thought starving suppressed my emotions. Instead, it strengthened and trapped them. One of my first weeks in treatment, I received a call from my school that devastated me. My initial reaction was to starve, but being in treatment, my dietitian and therapists made sure I ate at least two meals. Instead of starving, I felt that sadness and anger grow inside of me.
I was so angry when I got home that I sobbed uncontrollably until my mom decided to give me putty to relieve stress. At first, I dug my thumb into the putty and squeezed my fingers around it. I was crying so hard that eventually my mom suggested that I throw the putty. Angrily, I threw it against the stove and blurted out profanities. That day, I realized that I never truly let myself feel anger. I spent so long trying to numb my emotions with my eating disorder that I forgot what it was I was trying to avoid in the first place .
I forgot what true anger felt like–the heat that swelled inside my body, the energy, the irritation. Instead, I knew what an empty stomach felt like or what it felt like to force myself to vomit. What I did was painful, but I did not have to experience emotions. Feeling angry actually helped me. I nurtured myself that night by coloring and blogging until I felt okay. I let my emotions nourish my mind and soul because it is unnatural and unhealthy to constantly feel numb, just as it is unnatural and unhealthy to starve.