What is the comfort in emptiness? What is behind the desperation felt by being 'full', and what does 'full' apply to?
Why did I feel so 'successful' when I could feel my bones, and I knew my stomach and bowels were empty? Why did I feel more 'safe' when I was emaciated, despite knowing that I could die?
There is a common desire among people suffering from an eating disorder to be 'empty'. Hence the extreme restriction of food intake, the purging of food after eating, laxative abuse to rid one's body of ANY food, or obsessive exercise in an attempt to 'use up' or compensate for what one has eaten.
I can only speculate on this, even now, being recovered, and I do not completely understand the psychology surrounding this. I do believe however, that this 'need' for emptiness has more of an emotional basis than a physical one. This correlates to how an eating disorder is not about food or weight, but about any combination of emotional stresses.
Speaking for myself, as I am now able to look back at my ED behaviors with a more 'clinical' perspective, I can identify some of the truths about how anorexia presented in my life, and what (pseudo) purpose it served.
My need to be empty had everything to do with my emotional overload, and very little, if anything to do with physical emptiness. The 'fuller' I was of intense, and what I perceived to be 'bad' feelings, the more I felt the need to be empty in a physical way. I had no knowledge or practice of releasing or expressing my feelings, but even more, the belief that those feelings were 'bad' or unacceptable held me captive.
My fear of criticism and rejection was probably one of the most painful, constant emotion that I lived with.
For some reason, being physically empty felt safe to me. Feeling my bones was comforting, as if I was protected by that fragility. I suspect that my desire for this reassurance had to do with the numbing affect of my symptoms, and of course, the sense of control it gave to me.
As with many fears that an eating disorder may hold, figuring it all out was not the way to change it. It was much about tolerating the discomfort of eating, feeling food in my body, and not using any compensatory measures, that eventually led me to trust my body.
I began to develop new ways to cope with the emotions that were no longer stuffed down inside my soul.
As strange as it may seem to some, I now welcome being 'full'. 'Full' is much more about being complete as a person, than having a full stomach. I am full of life, love and passions that were never within my reach before.
Without apology ♥