In centuries gone by, there was no name for it. In fact, if someone had gone to great lengths to limit and diminish their emotional life, they might have been praised for having a so-called stiff-upper lip. The huge damage that person was doing to themselves and possibly others would not have been remarked on. Now, though, we know better. Emotional anorexia is real and it’s not good. It’s an illness. Today, we’re an open-minded society, and many of us strive to be in touch with ourselves and others. You may be one such person. Perhaps you regularly go for a gay massage. London, to you, is a place teeming with emotional opportunity — people to meet, friends to make, places to go. But for emotional anorexics, it’s very different. Theirs is a bleak and barren inner landscape. They keep themselves ‘safe’ from emotion, but in fact they’re in danger; in danger, that is, of living a half-life, and living it in monochrome instead of colour. It’s easy enough to relate because who, among us, doesn’t sometimes with they could avoid the less well-liked emotions — fear, jealousy, embarrassment, anguish. The trouble is, if we take action to keep ourselves away from such emotions, we find that we also have to give up the good ones — the highs, the explosions of joy, the warm contentment, the happiness. We become blank and empty.
Emotional anorexia comes in all sorts of ways, with a variety of patterns and levels of severity. It can be so subtle and discreet that sufferers are unaware they even have it. Or it can be overt and pronounced, so that not only the sufferer but those with whom they come into contact will be fully aware that something is very wrong. It also involves addiction, because the social anorexic is hooked on not feeling, on chasing a hit of numbness and then keeping it. The illness may be born of a fear of intimacy, or a form of shyness, but it can be disguised by a superficially extrovert character. Sometimes, before the sufferer can get better, they have to get worse. Some emotional anorexics have to hit rock bottom in the same way that someone with a substance misuse problem does, but for them, rock bottom could be the realisation that they are living with a total absence of love in their lives. Perhaps one day, as they look in the mirror before bed, it hits them like an out-of-control vehicle, slamming into their solar plexus. They are addicted to the avoidance of emotion and, with horrifying clarity, they finally realise it. But this moment of despair is often the turning point. If you need something to jolt you out of your own emotional anorexia, then nothing could be better than gay massage. London is, indeed, a lonely place, but an hour spent with a trained practitioner, gently putting you in touch with your physical self and your emotional self, could be the turning point you’ve been looking for. Let the healing commence.