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Hope Forward: Surviving and Thriving through Emotional Pain: Is Fat a Feeling?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Is Fat a Feeling?

There's a big debate over this one in my office. And in recovery rooms. And in the all the good books on eating disorders, food, weight, body and self.

Sometimes, fat is fat.

You just feel it. Bloated. Big. Uncomfortable in your own skin. Sometimes, the numbers on the scale can be the exactly the same, and one hour you feel fat, and the next, not.

Sometimes it's hormones, sometimes it's heat, humidity, too much salt. In the eyes of others, you look the same way you looked yesterday.

And sometimes feeling fat, awful as it feels, is better than feeling how you are really feeling.
Fat is often a code word for all other feelings. Especially anger, regret, frustration, fear, hurt, sadness.

If we are brave, we can unpack the fat. We can ask ourselves:
"What else is going on with me today? Besides that I feel fat."

"If I am angry, with whom?"

"If I am afraid, of what?"

"If I feel regret, for what?"

You get the idea. Of course, that's the easy part. And that's not easy. From there its about taking good care of yourself through all that hurt.
Sometimes, feeling fat is code for feeling too big in other areas. Too noticeable, too important to people who you may love, who may love you, but who might demand or expect a lot.
And sometimes, feeling fat seems better than feeling stupid. Or less than. Or wrong. Or flawed.

Maybe, unconsciously, we think that whatever character traits, defects, mistakes we've made are so bad, so unacceptable, unbearable, unforgivable, that feeling fat, as bad as it feels, is better than taking a look at ourselves, as gently as possible, making amends, and moving on.
Whatever it means, in any given moment, it does help to tend to the feeling. I think we fare so much better when we do.

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