- Trapped in the inevitability of what’s about to happen on Friday.
- Ashamed, thinking that I need to do more.
- Abandoned by those who are able to attend the March in Washington.
- Scared that I’ll be too scared to march in NYC.
- Governed by social anxiety of the magnitude I haven’t experienced in years.
- Proud to be escorting on Saturday morning.
- Grateful to have somewhere to be on Friday night, with like-minded, revolution-minded friends.
- Thrilled to be doing a play that actually fucking matters.
- Depressed and alone, on the couch, unable to work or think.
- Stuck in a spiral of news that makes my heart and head hurt.
I was supposed to go to an EPA today, but I didn’t. I know that’s okay. But it’s really just one small blip at the end of a long list of things that are hard today.
I’m not acting.
I could go through all the hard stuff– in October, I won’t have booked anything in a year, I can’t get seen for things that CDs I know are casting, I hate EPAs and I’m too poor for classes– but the reality is much simpler. I’m deep in a hole and it doesn’t feel like I can get out. This isn’t depression or anything. This is just the lowest part of a low in a career that’s all about those highs but mostly involves lows.
There are many reasons why I think I developed an eating disorder, but one main trigger for the restriction portion of it (which really kicked off the three years of awfulness) was fear and a lack of control.
I was an apprentice at a theatre festival, and in the first week, I got really, really sick. I had a tick-borne virus that basically knocked me out for about four days. In retrospect, I really should have gone to the hospital, but of course, I didn’t– I pushed through. But I felt as though I was coming in a week too late. Everyone had friends, everyone had settled into a routine, everyone had shown who they were, and I was still at square one.
So I worked. I worked and worked and by the end I was proud of myself, but I was also ten pounds thinner and at the beginning of a road that was going to be devastating.
This career forces you to let go of what you can’t control. I understand that.
But there are some things that are in your control, and so what happens is I run through all the things I COULD be doing to help get the next gig by am NOT doing, and immediately feel worthless and lazy and horrible. I feel scared and unmoored and invisible.
And so, my greatest fear grasps me around the neck and refuses to let go, whispering: If you walked away, would anyone even notice?
I’m fine, but I’m falling backwards into a hole.
I’m fine, but I can’t focus enough to read.
I’m fine, but I hate myself when I catch a glimpse in a mirror.
I’m fine, but I don’t want to have sex at all.
I’m fine, but my body feels like a monster.
I’m fine, but I’m also not fine.
And I guess that’s fine.
My last show was May 8. A matinee.
The end was so strange, so disruptive. Three months of independence and simplicity: knowing where to go, knowing what to do, knowing what my job was.
Now, my job is sitting here, at home, working on writing a unit on AP Art History, or editing an audiobook, or scrolling through Reddit, trying to find the diet or the workout or the journaling exercise to get me back to that feeling of confidence and ease.
I can’t find it. It’s not there, no matter how hard I look. I know that, and that’s okay. These are the in-between moments. They are always like this.
I just wish I had something. An audition. My cash flow is horrible right now, and my heart is achy. I miss doing what I love. I hate waiting for things to happen. Unfortunately, there’s nothing I can really do at the moment. I just have to wait.
I hate waiting.
(only sad pictures because I’m trying not to show my face… just realized how depressing this is)
I am working. Not only that, but I am working at one of the top theatres in the country, making LORT B (second only to LORT A when it comes to regional theatre) pay, and playing two leading roles. It’s a three month contract which means I will get another six months of health insurance. I am housed. I have a car I share with two other actors. This is the DREAM.
Which means I want to remember this feeling when I go back to NYC. I’m already dreading it… that discomfort of not working, that pain of not auditioning, that hurt of wanting so hard you think you might break.
But right now?
I like this.
I can tell instantly as when you step up, darling. I know. The posture, the sleeves over the hands, something in your eyes – you the girls who are struggling right now.
Some of you are hard and tense with overeating. Others, anorexic, feel like starving baby birds when I hug you – a handful of brittle bamboo canes. Maybe your arms are furious with criss-cross razor lines, or studs in your ear, your nose, your tongue, where you have tried to reclaim your bodies from something, or someone, with the snap of a piercing gun.
Sometimes your parents are there – standing in the background, nervous, their faces anxiously projecting, “She likes you. Please make her feel better now. Oh Christ, don’t break her.”
Other times, your parents aren’t there, but still present – their carelessness or rejection as tangible as if they were standing a foot away, casting mile-long shadows.
What do I say to you girl – you beautiful girls? You girls who are having the Bad Year – the Bad Year where you cannot remember why you were happy aged 12, and cannot imagine being happy at 21? What can I say in one minute, two minutes, three minutes?
So many things. That panic and anxiety will lie to you – they are gonzo, malign commentators on the events of your life. Their counsel is wrong. You are as high, wired and badly advised by adrenaline as you would be by cocaine.
Panic and anxiety are mad, drugged fools. Do not listen to their grinding-toothed, sweaty bullshit.
e is a promise, and a fact: you will never, in your life, ever have to deal with anything more than the next minute. However much it feels like you are approaching an event – an exam, a conversation, a decision, a kiss – where, if you screw it up, the entire future will just burn to hell in front of you and you will end, you are not.
That will never happen. That is not what happens.
The minutes always come one at a time, inside hours that come one at a time, inside days that come one at a time – all orderly strung, like pearls on a necklace, suspended in a graceful line. You will never, ever have to deal with more than the next 60 seconds.
Do the calm, right thing that needs to be done in that minute. The work, or the breathing, or the smile. You can do that, for just one minute. And if you can do a minute, you can do the next.
Pretend you are your own baby. You would never cut that baby, or starve it, or overfeed it until it cried in pain, or tell it it was worthless. Sometimes, girls have to be mothers to themselves. Your body wants to live – that’s all and everything it was born to do. Let it do that, in the safety you provide it. Protect it. That is your biggest job. To protect your skin, and heart.
Buy flowers – or if you are poor, steal one from someone’s garden; the world owes you that much at least: blossom – and put them at the end of the bed. When you wake, look at it, and tell yourself you are the kind of person who wakes up and sees flowers. This stops your first thought being, “I fear today. Today is the day maybe I cannot survive any more,” which I know is what you would otherwise think. Thinking about blossom before you think about terror is what girls must always do, in the Bad Years.
And the most important thing? To know that you were not born like this. You were not born scared and self-loathing and overwhelmed. Things have been done – which means things can be undone. It is hard work. But you are not scared of hard work, compared with everything else you have dealt with. Because what you must do right now, and for the rest of your life, is learn how to build a girl. You.
First: it is very odd to me that neither of the gyms I’ve gone to now in AL have scales in their locker rooms… only ONE scale for the whole gym that’s out in the main area. Plus, it’s an old-fashioned scale. In NYC, you have old fashioned scales, maybe, but there are going to be at least three in a locker room. C’mon. What is this nonsense?
At my wig fitting a couple of days ago my hair person said that I’d lost weight since being here. I felt like it might be true– I eat less when I don’t have a nice boy to ask for desserts. Plus, I’ve been working out pretty regularly. A part of me felt a bit nervous about it– but not TOO nervous. My depression is under control, and I know my triggers. I’m not going off the edge, and I know that, 100%, with a confidence that really makes me feel strong.
Today, as I changed back into my clothes after a costume fitting, I pulled the scale down off the shelf and weighed myself in my show slip and socks.
I weighed the low end of what I usually weigh.
Part of me was disappointed.
COME ON, GIRL. GET IT TOGETHER.
I don’t want to lose weight– at the VERY least, my costumes need to fit for the next two months.
I’m not anxious or freaked out. I’m just always amazed at how ingrained our reactions to numbers are. I think that, at least for me, it has less to do with my ED than the constantly ingrained notion in our society (and my biz in particular) that we should always be losing weight… even if we genuinely don’t need to.
Life is weird.
Starting tech tomorrow. Here. We. Go. http://www.bykennethjones.com/elyzabeth-gregory-wilders-white-lightning-new-play-rum-running-racing-romance-premieres-alabama/