This week was the start of my summer semester. With the start of any new situation, we are faced with new people, new expectations, and potentially new triggers. Like many of my posts, I was not sure if I should write about this, however, it has been almost 24 hours since I was in class and this situation is still on my mind.
I will just be blunt about it - There is an individual in my class, who of course decided to sit directly in front of me, that is clearly emaciated. Over the past year or so, I have become aware that people do have different body types and some people are lucky enough to be naturally thin. This person, on the other hand, looks sick. Whether this person has an eating disorder or not is none of my business, but it definitely does distract me from listening to the professor's lecture.
For the most part, I am heartbroken at the sight of this and hoping my assumptions are dead wrong. A very small part of me, however, is jealous enough to feel triggered. I realize that feeling the slightest bit of envy towards this person is silly. A good chunk of my life was spent in that living hell, so why would I feel this way?
As I was laying in bad last night, I realized that I am not necessarily envious of this person's weight, but more so of the control she has over her life; even if it is a false sense of control. In the twisted mindset that comes with an eating disorder, I find myself longing for that feeling of numbness. Rather than feeling disappointment, heartbreak, loneliness, or anger, this person keeps her emotions in check at all times. A part of me is also reminded of the high my eating disorder gave me. For once in my life, I felt worthy because I could control my weight and now that is gone. The "who am I without my eating disorder?" thoughts have returned.
Thankfully after a good nights rest, I woke up this morning with a different perspective on the situation. Although it would be nice to avoid uncomfortable emotions, that would also mean I would not know how to experience the good emotions. During my eating disorder I was so detached from my emotions that as I began recovery, experiencing joy and happiness felt extremely foreign. Somehow I felt like I was doing something wrong by actually feeling my feelings. Now, a year into my recovery, I often feel obnoxiously happy. Without years of pain, I would not be able to take advantage of all of the beauty left in my life.
Although it also felt nice to have some control over my weight and other situations in my life, I have finally reached a point where I can see the opposite was true - my eating disorder was controlling me. Eating disorder patients often refer to that high they get from feeling "empty" or binging and purging, but I can finally see that those supposed highs don't compare to the joyful highs I now feel in my everyday life.
Next Tuesday when I have this class again, I know the individual who sits in front of me will be somewhat of a distraction. Luckily for me, however, I can choose to view the situation however I want. This will not be the last time I will encounter someone who physically appears to have an eating disorder, but that does not mean I need to let it affect me. Once again, I will emphasize that I am making assumptions and I could be completely wrong about this person's heath; that doesn't make it any less triggering though.
Like I have said a million times before, triggers will always be there, it's how we choose to deal with them that pushes us further into recovery.
P.S. Last January I wrote a post called Unexpected Triggers, which is why this is Part 2. After rereading the original post this morning, it's exciting to see the change in myself after a few short months. I think that deserves another... Progress. :)