Listening and Responding to Emotions

I'm blessed to have people in my life who are always ready to listen to me. I have days when I'm tired and angry, and all I want to do is scream. It's nice to know that there are people there who can lend a listening ear. What's important to me is not that this person gives me a solution - sometimes all we need is someone to listen to how we feel. These are some of the things that I find helpful. Let me know if they are helpful for you as well!

1) when I feel 'fat'. If someone I know tells me that I have not gained weight, I'll stare at them because I know they are not telling the truth. I have gained weight (a lot) and I know it's obvious. So telling me that I don't look like it will only make things worse. What WILL help is for the person to listen. I want them to know that this feeling is very real. I feel fat and big and ugly. That's part of my illness. It bothers me because it makes me feel like a failure. What would help is for the person to understand that feeling fat (to me) is distressing and angering. I need that person to know that even if I don't look fat, I feel that way. What is helpful is for the person to say 'yes, you gained weight. But you are not fat or overweight. If you were, I would be honest and tell you because I care. I would not tell you you weren't overweight if you really were. I would tell the truth'.

2) when I feel sad. Sometimes I'm tired, sad, and frustrated. I get so busy with all my work and recovery that I'm irritable. At times like this, I want someone to understand how hard my life is. Yes, some people have worse conditions, but I've been through quite a lot. I don't always want to hear 'it will get better'. Sometimes, I want to hear 'I know that you have so much on your mind right now. And I can't even imagine how tired and sad you must feel. If I can help with anything let me know. If not, I'll pray for you. We all have days when we feel irritable or tired - this is normal. You have the right to feel this way. But remember, you are able to do whatever you put your mind to. Right now things may seem tough, but I know how capable you are of achieving things. For now, express how you feel and let me know if I can help. But I will give you your space'.

3) when I'm not hungry and I'm tired and frustrated with recovery. These are the hardest times because I'm full and I don't want to put anything into my mouth. But I know that I should eat, even if its something small. Sometimes it's helpful to tell someone how tired I am of eating all the time when I don't feel like it. But I don't like it when all I get for an answer is 'well, you are recovering from ED. Remember that!'  Not helpful at all. What IS helpful is something like: 'no one can make you eat. If you don't want to eat then you don't have to'. WARNING! THIS DOES NOT WORK FOR EVERYONE! The only reason this works for me is because I am at the place in recovery where I can make myself eat, even if I really don't want to. When someone reminds me that no one can make me eat, I reflect and remember that recovery is for me - not for anyone else. If I don't eat, I will get tired and maybe end up in the hospital. I will suffer - no one else. On the other hand, if I decide to eat, life goes on and I can do whatever I want. So in the end, I obviously will eat. But telling me that I must eat never helps. It makes me feel as though someone is forcing me into recovery when I've already decided to recover on my own. Of course, other victims need someone to force them to eat. Some people with ED cannot decide to eat in their own, so this does not apply to everyone. But if you are able to eat on your own, taking control of your own recovery is worth it.

4) when I'm angry and wonder 'why am I here?!'  These days are tough because they make me question why I survived my fight with ED. Why am I still fighting? Why do I still have to be a victim of ED, be busy, stressed, etc?! We all have days when we wonder what our purpose is, why life is tough, etc. I find it helpful when someone listens to me and let's me know that I'm not alone. 'Marina, some days I feel the same way. I wonder why life has to be so hard and why I'm still here. But then I think back to all I've done and everything ahead of me. I remember that although now I feel like this, there are some good days when I feel happy and content. It's normal to feel like this. If you want to talk, I'm here for you. But remember how amazing you are, how successful you have been. And you have much waiting for you. You are a child of God and He never leaves you alone. Talk to Him and complain, and tell Him know how you feel. You will find comfort in knowing that we all feel this way sometimes'.

And this is how I usually answer people who tel me the same thins. It's nice to have someone who can listen to how you feel, but not necessarily give a solution. Sometimes we just need assurance that someone can listen to our emotions and problems. Not always to give a solution. Sometimes we don't need heroes, we need supporters. I hope this was useful for you - either when answering others or when thinking of how others can help you.

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