- 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/
I’ve been in Alabama for about two and a half weeks now. I’ve settled into the apartment: figured out how to work the dishwasher and the heat, which way the door locks, and how to angle the showerhead. I’ve learned all my lines for show #1 and we’ll run through the whole thing off-book for the first time tomorrow morning.
I need to remind myself to take a step back and appreciate how incredibly lucky I am.
- I am working at one of the best festivals in the country.
- I am the only girl in a cast of five in show #1, and I’m playing a lead in show #2 as well.
- I like my castmates.
- I’m making good money.
- This job could have gone to ANYONE. But it went to me. Can you believe it?
I started this blog so long ago, it’s insane. I started it before I had an agent. Before I had my AEA card. Before I had gotten a single job worth bragging about. I was single. I was sick. I was unhappy and struggling and anxious and alone.
And now, look how far I’ve come.
Life is funny like that, and being in my industry reminds me of it all the time. Hard work is part of it, of course– beating my eating disorder was probably the hardest things I’ve ever done, and god knows I wouldn’t be working right now if I hadn’t worked REALLY hard to get the auditions in the first place and then nail the auditions later on– but a whole lot of it comes down to luck, or the way circumstances shift. I used to believe that people “deserved” things, but now I’m not so sure. I think everyone deserves everything– we just don’t always get those things. If everyone got what they deserved, there would be nothing left. We are all just pioneers, trudging forward on a path with a vague idea that we’re headed in the right direction.
My days generally hold the same shape. I get up around 7:30am. Most mornings, I meet M (my costar, who is my age), and we go to the gym. We work out until about 8:45, when we come back to the apartments. I turn on the coffeemaker and hop in the shower. Often I have to be at rehearsal at 10am, but I’m not in every scenes so many times my call is later. I eat a smoothie with peanut butter and oats. I pack an apple for a snack. I walk to rehearsal, through the apartment parking lot, under a small arbor, down the road between the park and the parking lot, and to the rehearsal room, punching in my code to get in the back door.
Rehearsal is slow, occasionally frustrating, but generally fine. I trust my fellow actors (well, I only have scenes with M) and I enjoy being around them, though the director is kind of a weird dude. I have issues with the play, but I know it’s going to be very well-received. Sometimes, that’s enough.
We get out for lunch at 1pm, and if one of us drove the car over (I share a car with M and our fellow costar L), we carpool back. I usually eat, watch some TV, and go over my lines. Nothing too rigorous. We’re back in rehearsal at 2:30 and work till 6:30 or 7pm, depending on the day. We drive back together to the apartments. Most nights, I come home, feel lonely, and eat dinner solo. My brain hurts at the end of the day, so I rarely want to work, even when I know I should. Sometimes I go out with M, like last night, when we went to a Mexican restaurant. We get along well, though we’re quite different. The more we get to know one another, the more fun we can have onstage.
I’ve never had issues with romantic scenes (even when I’m not a huge fan of my costar, I can suck it up and kiss ’em like nobody’s business), but there’s always a negotiation. You want to be the best possible partner for your partner, which means everything from making sure your teeth are brushed to pushing through to the intimacy early (especially as the woman, because men tend to get nervous that they’re doing too much too soon– I like to take charge to ease the tension and show it’s okay to touch/kiss/whatever in a scene).
I go to bed around 10:30/11pm.
We open this first show in early March (I can’t even remember) and I’m excited. And I am SO, SO lucky. Who knew this would be my reality.
There are the stars–doing their old, old crisscross journeys in the sky. Scholars haven’t settled the matter yet, but they seem to think there are no living beings out there. Just chalk… or fire. Only this one is straining away, straining away all the time to make something of itself. Strain’s so bad that every sixteen hours everybody lies down and gets a rest.
–Thornton Wilder, Our Town
So, obviously I care about this issue, but.
Check out this article from the L.A. Times. http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-goldberg-planned-parenthood-killer-20151201-column.html
My response is this:
Your argument is chock-full of false equivalencies. “Batman” and “Zeitgeist” and video games are fictional forms of entertainment.
The pro-life rhetoric is NOT fictional. It is real (whether or not the facts are). That rhetoric is incredibly violent, and, if taken seriously, the logical conclusion for many people would be violence. Think about it this way. Here’s some of the rhetoric I hear on the sidewalks:
–“You’re a baby-killer”
–“Don’t kill me, mommy”
–“Don’t be an escort of death/deathscort”
–“You’re killing an innocent person”
–“Jesus will judge you, sinner”
Now consider Carly Fiorina’s disproven statement about the (totally irrelevant) videos released by David Daleiden: http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/05/politics/fact-check-carly-fiorina-anti-abortion-videos/
Let’s reframe the terms.
Imagine we turned these phrases around to talk about someone of a different race or ethnicity. Maybe a religion?
Hell. We don’t even have to change the terms. People are doing it for us:
“[Clinic doctor murderer Paul Hill’s conduct was justifiable defensive action. There are many examples where taking the life in defense of innocent human beings is legally justified and permissible under the law.”
–Troy Newman, who recently endorsed Ted Cruz
“And now we are called into this incredible Holocaust of our own in America.” –Mike Huckabee, presidential candidate
“During slavery, a lot of slave owners thought they had the right to do whatever they wanted to that slave, anything that they chose. And what if the abolitionists had said, ‘I don’t believe in slavery, but you guys do whatever you want’? Where would we be?” –Ben Carson, presidential candidate
“Planned Parenthood has been far more lethal to Black lives than the KKK ever was.” –E.W. Jackson, former candidate for VA Lieutenant Governor
“If a woman has [the right to an abortion], why shouldn’t a man be free to use his superior strength to force himself on a woman? At least the rapist’s pursuit of sexual freedom doesn’t [usually] result in anyone’s death.” –Rep. Lawrence Lochman, ME state lawmaker
“Hillary Clinton… believes in the systematic murder of children in the womb to preserve their body parts.” –Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey
Tell me, folks: If you truly believed that what these politicians are saying is absolutely accurate, you would be furious. You might start a war– heck, we’ve started wars for less. When you compare the Holocaust and slavery (both of which we fought wars about) to abortion, you are inviting violent responses.
This isn’t fiction. Language has power, and the people misusing it have a lot of power too.
Violent rhetoric leads to violence. PERIOD.
ETA: This is really great info:
“Stochastic terrorism is the use of mass communications to incite random actors to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable. In short, remote-control murder by lone wolf.”
Yesterday, I was a clinic escort at a women’s medical center here in New York City.
What’s a clinic escort?
A person who literally walks with a patient to the entrance of the clinic.
Why do we need them?
Because protestors use their right to “free speech” to hold up horrific signs, yell vicious lies, slander others, and get right up into the faces of women and men who are just trying to get healthcare while telling them that they are “murderers.”
My experience is best laid out by this woman, who escorts at the clinic I worked at yesterday:
But here’s some of what I experienced:
Honestly, it was just deeply strange. I’ve seen this kind of stuff in documentaries and I guess maybe on the street, but it was a whole other thing to stand there for four hours with these people. When I told A about it, he couldn’t believe that what they were doing was legal. Emotionally, I felt just fine, since I was so sure that these people were in the wrong. The whole time, though, I really felt for the women and men coming into the clinic– they are forced to walk down a sidewalk crowded with people holding enormous, gruesome signs and swarming around them. No one wants that. It’s not fair, and it’s not right.
A few things that didn’t surprise me:
- The crazy fundamentalist rhetoric. They brought slavery in within about ten minutes; the Holocaust came about five minutes later.
- All of the escorts were women. The main leader was an older woman, around your age, who the protesters loved to call a communist. The rest of us were in our mid to late twenties. All of us were white, and all of us were really passionate.
And many things that did surprise me:
- They got SO CLOSE to the patients. Literally, right up next to them, touching, arm to arm. We literally had to push ourselves in between the protestors and the patient, which involved a bit of very forceful “Excuse me” on our part.
- How much they just YELLED. I was exhausted just ignoring them.
- How many there were. There were about six escorts and at least twenty five protestors from just ONE church, not including the catholic church of about twelve people that spent an hour across the street singing and praying.
- It was “peaceful,” I guess, but the language they used was so inflammatory, even when no patients were coming in or out. I was called more horrible things yesterday than in the rest of my life combined. Some favorites: “deathscort” “accomplice to murder” “wicked,” and those were just some of the most obviously hurtful.
- The longtime escorts were totally familiar with most of the protestors; they come every week from one church. We weren’t permitted to use anyone’s name (even first names) while outside the clinic, because the protestors have tracked down and harassed escorts at their work and home.
- How locked down the facility was. I have never seen a doctor’s office… heck, any office… with that much security. There’s a security guard outside, two inside. The walls of the waiting room are soundproofed so the patients can’t hear the screaming outside. You have to be buzzed in TWICE by a nurse in order to even get to the waiting room. It’s a fortress.
And what’s most sad about that is that the clinic is beautiful. It’s brand newand is growing every day. We were able to take a quick tour. The OB/GYN and pre-natal area was lovely and filled with light. Whenever we saw a patient with a nurse, they were both smiling or laughing (what a contrast to outside). We didn’t get to see the surgical area, though we did peek into the recovery room. It was so lovely and bright. The head OB/GYN nurse talked to us for a while in the conference room, telling us what the clinic does. There was a lot of information, but basically it’s just a great place for women to get HEALTHCARE. Imagine that. They even have special programs to help women who don’t have papers.
One of the Pastor’s daughters brought her husband and their TWO YEAR OLD CHILD. She held this child as she stood in our faces, telling us that we were murderers. They pushed the baby in a stroller all around the block where the protestors were, huge 4×4′ posters of “aborted” “fetuses”. It was horrific.
Honestly, one of the things the protestors said was true: “One side is the side of darkness, and the other is the side of light.” And know which one I’m on.