One of my coworkers at the bakery (who shall remain unnamed, for her dignity and my own) told me that for Easter, I should just enjoy my visit with my friend, relax, and "let my titties hang out."
After I got done laughing--I'm creative, but never in a million years could I have come up with that one!--I told her that, indeed, I was looking forward to doing just that. What's really struck me is just how much I've been doing that in the past few months. No, I still wear a bra (well, most of the time), but I've been trying to "let things hang out," so to speak, on more of an emotional level. Expressing emotion has never been a skill of mine. I can handle anxiety and, to a lesser extent, frustration, but anything deeper just gets blocked between my brain and my mouth. It's why I can't act- I can experience the emotion, I can have empathy, I can even read what other people are feeling, but I can't parrot it back. I just...shut down. For most of my life, it never even occurred to me to share my feelings. True, I had some spectacular meltdowns, but some of those were as much due to the fact that I didn't know how to put my intense feelings into words as they were an expression of emotion in their own right.
Even years before the eating disorder, it never occurred to me to ask for support. I was always happy for someone to lend an ear to hear me piss and moan, but I never said anything like "I need you to..." whatever. I was happy to play psychotherapist to my friends, and listen and reflect back and provide advice and opinions, but I never sought them out for the same purpose. Some of the thinking was that I didn't want to be a burden- if they were having problems, then the last thing they needed was someone unloading onto their shoulders. But much of the reason I didn't share had to do with the fact that I tend to just shut down emotionally under stress.
I'm a private person (despite the rather public blog), and to some extent, sharing to the Whole Wide World isn't super appealing. And yet I've come to realize over the years that my readers are so supportive and understanding, that I owe it to you to at least take the risk and start sharing more. Some of it has been focusing on more personal and emotional issues rather than focusing on the science-y parts. Other parts have been sharing on Twitter ( click here to read/ignore my updates) when I'm having major bad body image, when I'm feeling urges to restrict or otherwise act contrary to recovery. I've been trying to share more with TNT--I know! Sharing your feelings with a therapist! Who'd have thunk?!?--and even my parents and close real-life friends. It's a skill for me, and the more I practice, the better I get at it.
The irony is that I'm getting lots of support by letting it all hang out. Too bad bras don't work that way...