I’ve been in treatment for my eating disorder long enough to roll my eyes whenever I hear the saying, “Fat is not a feeling.” I get it. I really do. There’s something deeper inside that’s hiding behind that. And it’s the same thing when a therapist tells me it’s not really about the food.
You know what?
Sometimes I do feel fat. I guess “bloated” might be a better word to use. But there are days when my rings and pants feel tighter; when I only feel comfortable in certain clothes. And sometimes, it is about the food. Maybe it didn’t taste good or wasn’t satisfying. If you want me to have a “normal” relationship with my body and food, then to occasionally have these thoughts is okay. (Those without eating disorders are allowed to be irked if their meal wasn’t to their liking, without being hounded about deeper feelings.)
Over the past few years, I’ve learned to tell when something has a deeper meaning. When I say that I feel fat, the majority of the time it’s because I actually feel uncomfortable and inadequate. (Actually, flip that. Inadequate comes first. And feeling inadequate makes me uncomfortable. And angry.) I’m not enough…not pretty enough…not smart enough…not thin enough…not feminine enough…not strong enough…not vulnerable enough…not talkative enough…etc. And specifically , I feel it most when the inadequacy hit me by surprise. If I go into a situation, already knowing that it’s going to be a learning experience, then the possibility of feeling “less than” is exponentially reduced.
I’m not aiming for perfection here. Well, maybe I am, but I think it’s more on a subconscious level. I generally feel that I’m lazy. So, if I feel inadequate it’s because I didn’t do enough previously to prepare for that moment. I could have studied, tried harder in school, put on make up, worked out, etc. But I didn’t. So, it’s my own fault. Then it can cycle around again. But trying to figure all that out has taken years. And sometimes I don’t exactly feel like divulging all that information, so it comes out as, “I feel fat.”
Delving further into this a bit–Another person, who is not in my inner circle of friends, may not take the word “inadequate” as how it means to me. They may not understand that it’s purely self imposed and may or may not be true. They might try to make me feel better by saying something encouraging, like: “You’ll get them next time,” or “If you did _______ [fill in the blank yourselves] then you’d be better prepared.” All of that is very logical and is already in my head. I need someone to understand that I feel inadequate because of me just being and to leave it at that.
However, if I tell these same second and third tier friends that “I feel fat,” they can empathize with that. They have their own meaning for “I feel fat.” They don’t push and don’t negate. The phrase is accepted. It has become a part of the norm. and i think that’s kinda sad.