WARNING: numbers

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’m a “Deathscort” and I’m proud of it.

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:
http://the-toast.net/2014/07/02/abortion-clinic-escort-stories/
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.

The world is too hard as it is, without letting your pants have an opinion on how you are doing.

Saw this on Facebook and couldn’t NOT post to the blog. Thanks, Anne Lamott.

***

This is the Anne Patricia Lamott Anti-Diet that I posted at this time last year. This year, I post it with an added urgency, as the new Viking Diet is upon us, the latest and hottest It diet, and since you may feel vulnerable and somewhat battered after the last few days/weeks/years of festive family get-togethers, or estrangement, you will be susceptible to its promises. And yes, young Canute, if you are enjoying the noble Viking lifestyle, raiding your neighbor’s grain stores and salted venison lockers, this may in fact be the perfect new diet for you. Are you giddy with relief that Whole Foods carries so many foraged vegetables, and moose meat? Then step right up. Help bail out the ever-struggling diet industry, while you’re at it. But otherwise?

We need to talk.

I know you are planning to start a diet next Thursday, January 1st, I used to start diets, too. I hated to mention this to my then-therapist. She would say cheerfully, ” Oh, that’s great, honey. How much weight are you hoping to gain?”

I got rid of her sorry ass. No one talks to ME that way.

Well, okay, maybe it was ten years later, after she had helped lead me back home, to myself, to radical self-care, to friendship with my own heart, to a jungly glade that had always existed deep inside me, to mostly healthy eating, but that I’d avoided all those years by achieving, dieting, binging, people-pleasing, multi-talking, and so on

Now when I decide to go on a diet, I say it to myself: “Great, honey. How much weight are you hoping to gain?”

I was able to successfully put on weight during my last book tour by eating room service meals in a gobbly trance in 13 different cities. So that was exhilarating, as I may have mentioned several hundred times that I have had the tiniest, tiniest struggle with food and body image for the last–well, life time. Hardly worth mentioning.

And then, after book tour, I accidentally forgot to starve myself in December, or to go back to the gym, which I’ve been meaning to do since I had a child, 24 years ago.

So I am at least five pounds up–but thankfully, I do not currently have a scale, because as I’ve said before, getting on a scale is like asking Dick Cheney to give you a sense of your own self-worth every morning.

I can still get my jeans on, for one reason: I wear forgiving pants. The world is too hard as it is, without letting your pants have an opinion on how you are doing. I struggle with enough esteem issues without letting my jeans get in on the act, volunteering random thoughts about my butt.

By the same token, it feels great to be healthy. Some of you need to be under a doctor’s care. None of you need to join Jenny Craig. It won’t work. You will lose tons of weight quickly, and gain it all back, plus five. Some of you need to get outside and walk for half an hour a day. I do love walking, so that is not a problem for me, but I have a serious sickness with sugar: if I start eating it, I can’t stop. I don’t have an off switch, any more than I do with alcohol. Given a choice, I will eat candy corn and Raisinets until the cows come home–and then those cows will be tense, and bitter, because I will have gotten lipstick on the straps of their feed bags.

But you crave what you eat, so if I go for 3 or 4 days with no sugar, the craving is gone. That is not dieting. If you are allergic to peanuts, don’t eat peanuts.

So please join me in not starting a diet January 1st.

It’s really okay, though, to have (or pray for) an awakening around your body. It’s okay to stop hitting the snooze button, and to pay attention to what makes you feel great about yourself, one meal at a time. Horribly, it’s yet another inside job. If you are not okay with yourself at 185, you will not be okay at 150, or even 135. The self-respect and peace of mind you long for is not out there. It’s within. I hate that. I resent that more than I can say. But it’s true.

Maybe some of us can try to eat a bit less, and walk a bit more, and make sure to wear pants that do not hurt our thighs or our feelings. Drinking more water is the solution to all problems.

I’ll leave you with this: I’ve helped some of the sturdier women at my church get healthy, by suggesting they prepare each meal as if they had asked our beloved pastor to lunch or dinner. They wouldn’t say, “Here Pastor–let’s eat standing up in the kitchen. This tube of barbecue Pringles is all for you. i have my own” And then stand there gobbling from their own tubular container. No, they’d get out pretty dishes, and arrange wonderful foods on the plates, and set one plate before Veronica at the table, a plate filled with love, pride and connection. That’s what we have longed for, our whole lives, and get to create, now, or or on the 1st. Wow! And God bless you all real good, as my pastor always says.

Patience and Time

As I may or may not have mentioned here, I’ve joined up on MentorConnect to serve as a mentor for people who are working through recovery from eating disorders. Basically I just serve as someone to talk to who has been through what my “mentees” are struggling with. It’s a great site for anyone who is working on their recovery, or for anyone who wants to “give back” after getting to a stable point in recovery.

MC_NewBanner_crop

Anyway, I have four mentees, all of whom are in different periods in their lives, different points in their disorders, and different needs from me as a mentor. However, I have found that one platitude keeps repeating itself over and over:

It takes patience and time. Patience and time. And things WILL change.

Today I had an audition for a great regional theatre gig in Florida. Then I came to work. Tonight I have free tickets to see a show on Broadway. I may start rehearsals for a small show on Saturday (if I don’t get this regional gig). This is the dream. Truly. It has been MONTHS, if not YEARS, since I felt like I was actually working.

And what has changed?

Nothing. Really. No classes, no haircut, no new outfit.

Patience.

Time.

I think this is probably the case for all things in life. We live 80 plus years these days– there’s no rush to get everything accomplished by 25. Especially these days, with the surplus of workers and the lack of work.

I’m going to celebrate this moment, where I don’t NEED to be patient. I’m going to soak in this feeling as long as I can. Because all that patience and time leads up to moments like these. It’s what makes it worth it.

In all things, patience and time.

This is my cat in Christmas pajamas. Because you DESERVE to smile.

This is my cat in Christmas pajamas. Because you DESERVE to smile.

13 Things I Learned in 2013

1. JANUARY: You can get an A+ in “being an actor,” but it still doesn’t mean you’ll succeed.

It’s about being ME, and living my life, and knowing, deep within myself, that this moment is temporary. To forgive myself when I get another “no” or I’ve gone months without a “real” job. To acknowledge that I’m WORTH forgiving. To trust myself enough to believe that the next job will come.

It’s not that you don’t do the hard work– it’s that you don’t depend upon it to make your life perfect. I don’t think I expected that when graduating from high school, or when I moved to New York, or really… ever. Until the last two years of being in the world. I’ve become more and more comfortable with it, but I have to constantly remind myself that the balance is the key. As one of my favorite professors loved to say about the process of acting (and, ergo, the process of living) is “always balancing, never balanced.”

2. February: I want all the things.

This is something that has surprised me about my relationship with A. I never dreamed about my perfect wedding, I never felt like anything was missing when I was alone, I never wanted anyone to spend money on me. But with A, I google engagement rings (not that I want him to propose yet, but again… suddenly I want all the things). I want him to buy me nice dinners. I want him to get his book deal so he can take care of our little family. I want to cook for him. I want him with me all the time.

This is not to say I’m going to get married and become a housewife and give up everything I’ve dreamed of– I’m just as ambitious as always. But I realized that I maybe do want some of the things we’re told women want, and that’s okay. Like Hannah, I feel weird about wanting all the things, but truth be told… I kinda do.

3. March: I know that there’s no quick fix to this.

Everything hurts me.
I’m easily irritated, and I hate that.
It is physically difficult to do anything, and mentally even more so.
I feel as though I’m wasting my life.
I am not entirely sure that “I am enough” for this business at all.

My spirits are very low. And the thing that makes me the most happy in the world is so far away from me. I have nothing to look forward to. I don’t know what else to do. I’m scared and feeling very hopeless. Why can’t the universe throw me a bone? A small one? Any one?

I know this will pass. I know I will eventually work again. But right now I feel like my insides are made of hardening cement– heavy and painful. Nothing give me joy right now. Everything hurts. Everything makes me cry. I want to be nowhere; to hibernate until this time is over. And I just want it go away.

4. April: Our love is the truest thing RIGHT NOW, and for the time to come.

We talk about love a lot. So do most couples.
But my darling, I UNDERSTAND you. We FIT. “I” am not a “thing” without “you.”

Just wanted to share.
I never take you for granted.
I never am not surprised and grateful when you make me coffee.

Our love is energetic and exciting and romantic, but it’s also comfortable. It’s home. And that’s something that’s harder to put into words than the platitudes and poetics that make up the language of most relationships. A year ago, I couldn’t imagine a love like this.
Now, I can’t imagine my life without it.

5. May: Self-harm is the is the easiest game to play.

I’m always amazed by the ways in which I know how to hurt myself.

Food.
Cutting.
Watching videos of my boyfriend’s ex on his computer.
Saying “no” and staying in.

I have hurt myself more than anyone has ever hurt me.

6. June: The way I see myself, the way I see the world, has transformed.

Everything changes. It would take years and years to trace each seismic shift from its starting place, to its catalyst, to its change. There are patterns, of course. My triggers are familiar. Many of my dreams are the same. But the way I see myself, the way I see the world, has transformed, and on more than one occasion.

I’m okay with that.

As long as I still find those moments where all the pieces of my life, my desires, my city, can balance momentarily on a finger. As long as I feel those sharp flashes of knowing I’m exactly where and what and who I’m supposed to be. The inside transforms the outside, and the same is true the other way around. And maybe that makes me hope that I’ll never stop changing, that with each turn of the season and spin of the axis, I’m finding my balance on the point that feels just right, at least for a moment. And then I’ll fall off, only to tip and spin and flounder until I’ve found my perfect, temporary fit again.

7. July: I hate this business sometimes, I doubt my strength when the going is tough, but I honestly CANNOT imagine my life any way but this.

And those raw moments of the play, where the only thing that exists is the look in Reed’s eyes-the kiss or kill- or the way Angie skips onstage after a betrayal, like nothing has happened, or the genuine nerves and laughter of the epilogue– I am so much myself. I get to experience worlds different from my own, physical contortions, and heartache and lust and love, it really just boils down to ME, really looking, really hearing, really standing there and taking it, and letting myself feel every bit. No hiding.

It’s not really disappearing, I guess. It’s allowing honest feeling to seep out and be seen. I am actually standing there, actually slapping his face, actually kissing his lips, actually blocking her way.

And unlike life, much of the time, I get to experience it fully. That’s what I share with the audience. And that is joy. That is release. That is certainty.

8. August: I ate pasta for dinner. And I feel A-OK about it.

Starving made (and makes) me angry. Being hungry sharpens things, sure, and I’m more productive, but I’m also touchy. I’m isolated. Everybody and everything annoys me. It’s manic, but it’s also pissy. I’m never more outwardly angry than when I’m hungry.

Binging makes me sad. I turn inward here, too, but for different reasons. I want to be invisible. People don’t piss me off– I just feel as though I don’t deserve to be near anyone, like I’m worthless and I want to be alone. It’s almost more painful because of the shame. Not eating isn’t shameful. I don’t care what anyone says. For women, and anyone who has ever experienced an ED, eating is shameful. Not eating means self-control. This is not the objective truth, but it is the truth we live every day in this society. I would get more auditions if I was starving than if I was binging. If I’m sick from not eating, that’s almost understandable. If I’m sick because I tear into myself with food, punish every body part, my stomach and my brain in particular, I lack self-control.

9. September: I am a participant in so many tiny universes.

Looking at A’s Facebook page today, loaded with those lovely “Happy Birthday!”s that pop up through the day, I noticed my universes converging. That’s how life goes, I guess, and love is the catalyst for it. Actors I worked with last summer post greetings after friends from college share their blessings. A knows these people and they know him because I exist. I love A, so I bring him places. I love my friends, so I make a point to go to those places.

I know I’m not the only one with these many orbiting galaxies, meshing and meeting, with only me, my strange and special life, at the center. How did I become someone whose world has so much variance? It makes me feel good. It makes me feel like I exist.

10. October: I have confidence that I can care for myself, for the first time in a long time.

Look at all this SHIT I had to fight through, tooth and nail, to get to this point. Look at how hard I worked. Look at all the time I spent fighting for the life I have now. I battled an eating disorder, crushing anxiety, self-hatred, depression, mania, self-injury in every way you can imagine, and I’ve come out the other side. And I have confidence that I can care for myself, for the first time in a long time. Isn’t THAT crazy?”

My life is nothing special to me, as I walk through it. And yet, I realize that I have walked through incredible forests, forded wild rivers. I am lucky to have it, and I am grateful. Overwhelmingly.

11. November: Eventually, someone will reach out to me because they want me.

Andddddd. Here is me letting go. After a day of excitement, then a day of so much nervous energy I could have powered NYC… And the video audition is taped, looks just fine, and was sent off to my agent. Now. I can feel good about this. I just need to stop fantasizing about it.

What’s next to get me excited?! Anyone? Mom and dad are coming for thanksgiving in two weeks! Artie and I have two movie dates next week! I have a play audition on Monday! I have amazing supportive friends! Life is good, y’all. And that’s the end of this chapter. Page turn, cover close, on the shelf, as high as it can go. :)

12. December: I love that in spite of EVERYTHING, every time the lights go down, my heart fills and beats just a little harder.

I love this community, despite its flaws.

I love this craft, despite its strangeness.

I love these shows, despite some of them being kind of dumb.

I love this city and its passion, despite the fact that it’s exhausting.

13.  2013 was not a “banner” year. My career was slow. The first bumps in my relationship appeared. I struggled with friendships, I struggled at work. I fucked up a lot. It’s hard to look at the strides I made last year (huge show, Equity card, agent, new boyfriend, moving in with boyfriend, new cat) and compare them to last year. Yet 2013 was not devoid of growth. It was just that the growth was subtler, harder to see, less exciting, less bright.

I rekindled incredible friendships through the process of R’s wedding.
I did a show that reminded me why I love the theatre.
I shot my first lead in a TV episode, and did really well. And had so much fun.
I am happier with my body, and also more content with my “recovery,” than ever before.
I took some great risks (new dance studio, solo vacation, new doctors).
I supported my boyfriend through a career change and the ups-and-downs therein.
I watched my boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend in a play, then watched her leave the state, and slowly stopped letting her hurt me (still working).
I had my final appointment with my amazing therapist.
I said what I wanted and boldly asked for things (“I want an audition for this.” “Could you please do the dishes?”)
I reconnected with my relatives (though my grandmother would disagree).
I attended my first wedding.
I looked more beautiful than I have ever looked before, and I felt that.
I accepted that there are things that I can’t do because they make me feel bad, and that’s okay.
I was more in love than I’ve ever been.

So yeah. 2013. Things happened. As we enter a new year, I want to continue to make things happen. I want to continue to take risks. I want to give back. I want to be kind. I want to keep learning.

What did you learn this year? And by the way, I’m so grateful for your presence in my life this year. Happy new year!

Bad Day Conversation

Welp…

Inner Voice: Thought it would be so easy, didn’t ya?! Thought you could just NOT do something. Sounds like the same person who though “Oh, I’ll just NOT eat so much” or “Oh, I’ll just NOT be sad anymore.”

Me: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Inner Voice: Wait, do you not feel bad about yourself? Didn’t you have more than one bowl of cereal this morning? Didn’t you eat two servings of cookies AND PEANUT BUTTER last night? Didn’t you not go to the gym this morning? Don’t you feel disgusting? Don’t you hate yourself?

Me: I mean… no. Everything you said was true. I don’t feel great about eating more than I needed last night, but it happens, and I haven’t been eating quite enough while A’s gone anyway. And cereal schmereal. I’ll get over it. I’m not going to let you make me feel shitty about myself when I’m doing well. I’m not going to let you take my successes away from me. So please, if you wouldn’t mind, just shut up.

Inner Voice: Hey, no! I have a lot of things to say! I love to talk to you! I keep you busy!

Me: I mean, yeah, but it’s tiring so stop.

Inner Voice: Fuck you.

Me: Fuck you too. And checking her Facebook once a day is already an improvement. See ya later, asshole!

Treatment Options for Binge Eating Disorder

This is amazing. I 100% support everything written here, and I have used many of these tools in my (pretty much complete? Eek!) recovery.

Dear Bee

Question from a lovely reader this morning: 

I was wondering what the treatment options are for Binge Eating Disorder. Obviously there are different severities of the disorder and different treatments needed for different people on a case-by-case basis, but I was wondering if maybe you could summarize some of the options out there for some of us.

Basically what I’m saying is, I have Binge Eating Disorder, and it is currently running and ruining my life. I really really need help but I want to know what I’m in for. Is inpatient a thing that happens with BED, ever? Is it usually therapy? What goes on for a typical patient, what is considered “severe,” etc…. I don’t know if there’s one good question in there to answer, but I’m really hoping you might have a bit of input, given that you are a) in recovery and b) on your way…

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