Thoughts on Emotional Connection in Recovery

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I have a really big feeling that I have written about this topic before (here it is!), but there is just so much to say, I’m going to do it again.

For the longest time I thought that I didn’t feel emotion like other people. I had very little attachment to people and I felt almost heartless – I even asked my therapist if she thought I was a sociopath.

As a kid, I was never homesick. Other kids would cry at day care, friends’ houses, school trips or whatever and I was fine – off to the next adventure. I would spend weeks away from home and feel no desire to go back.

When I broke up with my first serious boyfriend, I had NO attachment. We dated for 2 years and I walked away completely unencumbered. When I left for treatment for the first time Carson was so upset that I would be spending time away from him, I was absolutely emotionless. When I left for England, he was beyond distraught. He collapsed in tears and begged me not to go – again I remained stoic, excited to be going but with no feelings that I was losing anything by leaving. When I went to treatment the second time Carson was again, very upset. He often drove down to see me even though I could have stayed there alone.

My lack of emotion and attachment really frightened me, I didn’t react like normal people and didn’t feel like a normal person. I thought I was emotionally stunted, incapable of feeling the closeness that other people felt.

Through recovery I have begun to experience a depth of emotions I never knew were possible and as it turns out, I’m not emotionally stunted – I’m actually quite sensitive. Somehow my eating disorder must have been numbing me to my feelings, leaving me isolated and in a way protected.

In the last few months I have experienced profound love and connection through new friends and old relationships. I have felt love, longing, devotion, attachment, loss, happiness, comfort, ease, contentment, peace. I have felt my heart warm and expand as I cultivate new friendships and rekindle old fires. Like the Grinch whose heart grew 2 sizes, I have had the privilege of feeling the block of ice that used to sit in my chest and really experience connection.

As it turns out, I was not emotionally stunted, just numb. When I was sick, I experienced a full range of emotions; the pure joy of my wedding day, the utterly depressed suicidal pursuit of thinness. In recovery I am experiencing higher highs and lower lows than I ever thought possible; the loss of my mother, laughing (really laughing) so hard my abs hurt the next day, and a depth of connection that honestly wasn’t available to me before.

In recovery I am not only a healthier person in both mind and body, but a more whole person. I can confidently say that I will never go back to the prison that was my disorder. Sometimes when things get hard I crave the emotional fog that I used to live in, but through truly feeling the good emotions (and the bad ones) I know I am more fully able to experience a full life. I don’t want to simply survive this life, I want to live it! I want to spend my time on this planet improving the lives of others. I may not die in a thin body but I will die (eventually) with a life full of experiences behind me and a group of loved ones beside me.

Life doesn’t have to be so lonely. Life doesn’t have to be so hard. Life can be wonderful. If you just open up your heart and let the beauty in the world around you in, life can be truly magical.

<3 Claire

So, what do you think ?