An Open Letter from Caitlin Moran

I like this.
–B.

The letter:

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.

Love, Caitlin

http://www.stylist.co.uk/people/caitlin-moran-powerful-letter-to-the-girls-i-meet-at-my-book-signings-women-girls-anxiety-depression-love-feminism-moranifesto

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/

Trigger / Solution

So… I haven’t written about my eating disorder in so long!

Why?

Well, because I don’t need to, most of the time. I have been stable in both weight and mental health for going on three years now. I cannot tell you how lucky that makes me feel; how grateful I am for the people and institutions who supported me; how deeply I understand how FUCKING HARD it is to come out of this whole.

To everyone still working… keep working. Be gentle with yourself. Try everything once. And most of all, find happiness somewhere– anywhere– and cherish that as you fill that up that deep sinkhole that food used to control.

It’s all pretty words, but I want anyone who is reading this to know that it is 100% hard but 100% possible to be “okay.” Remember how I also talked about how many YEARS it took? Yeah. So.

Anyway, the reason I’m posting now is because in cleaning out my computer, I found an old document. I feel certain I found it somewhere, so wherever it came from… sorry for stealing your great words. It’s a list of triggers and solutions. It’s not perfect, but it’s a great resource. I invite you to check it out.

With love and affection,
B.

A series of unfamiliar situations, “unsafe” foods, unpredictable environments, restaurants, and social eating, like a vacation.
(Solution: Plan ahead, bring my own foods, get through as many challenges as possible, but keep as much consistency as possible.  Seek accountability with one or more of my traveling partners and be completely honest.)

Feeling strong, happy, and successful.
(Solution: remember that I must eat to stay this way.  All strong people eat.)

Conflict within a friendship or family relationship
(Solution: Evaluate my role honestly; make amends if necessary; set boundaries and get out.)

Sadness or failure
(Solution: let myself feel all of my emotions; be gentle with myself.  Remember that I need to eat to have strength to cope.  Remember that no one is perfect.) SEE INSIDE OUT!!!!! (that’s from B)

Stress or busyness
(Solution: make eating a priority to myself.  Eliminate as much stress as possible from life.  Make dates with friends to ensure that I eat when I am “too busy.” )

Weight gain
(Solution: follow nutritionist’s recommendations and forget about it.  Don’t weigh myself.)

Feeling overwhelmed
(Solution: have a friend or therapist help me evaluate and simplify my life.  If I am still stressed, realize that it is BETTER TO QUIT SOMETHING than to fall back into my ED.)

A friend’s ED, weight loss, skipped meals or odd food/exercise habits
(Solution: remember that I am following a perfectly prescribed diet and that I need to do what is right and healthy for me.  Realize that I probably have much more substantial nutrition knowledge than them.  Avoid meal times or diet talk with affected friend.)

Clothes not fitting
(Solution: throw item away and purchase a replacement, preferably a different brand.  Realize that it’s not my failure; it’s the clothing designer’s failure.)

Reading about diets or seeing pictures of underweight celebrities
(Solution: don’t read it.  Get accountability in this area if need be.  If I am needing an escape, read a travel or home decoration magazine, or a Christian or psychology book.)

Sense of loneliness
(Solution: schedule time for meaningful interaction with another human—if I don’t have a friend, make one.  Be vulnerable and express my needs.)

Weight loss
(Solution: immediately evaluate the cause.  If related to illness, take time off from school/exercise/life to get better.  If related to ED behaviors, notify therapist and others and implement what is needed.  If accidental and repeated again the next week, add extra nutrition.  Treat it as a serious symptom.)

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.

What the WHAT?!

What the EVERLOVING SHIT is going on with me right now?

I had a pretty shitty weekend, emotionally. A was gone. I did some work and relaxed a ton, but got about as close to binging as I have in a loooong time. Had those terrible thought cycles and got constantly caught up in the emotional soup. Had what should have been great sex last night but wasn’t there at ALL.

Now today, I feel shaky and sad. This isn’t the numbness I felt this weekend, it’s a heavy wet cloud in my chest. Tears or screams or something always feel just on the VERGE of coming out. I have a cracked lip I can’t stop picking at and a pimple the size of Pluto that I can’t stop thinking about. My brain feels far and distant and it takes an exceptional amount of power to convince my self to do my actual job.

I don’t know how I feel. I feel depressed but also manic, unfocused and flighty, epically sad but also terribly anxious.

Is it just this time of year? Where things are ending and new things are supposed to be starting, but instead the days just slide into the thick humid fucking loooooooong days of New York summer? Why does the “future” look like a total jumble, just weeks and weeks of IcantevenimaginewhatIamdoingIhavenocluecanItakeanapandwakeupandsuddenlyhaveapurpose?

This better pass by tomorrow, because I’m turning fucking 25 years old and I deserve a good day. Goddamnit.

HOW?

How? HOW?! (so many hows)

HOW #1: How do I balance busy and not busy?

I’m not happy when I’m not busy, but when I’m busy, I feel run down. Balance? What’s that?

A and I fought last night because I was irritable and needed space and probably other things I couldn’t articulate. All day today I felt overwhelmed by all the things I haven’t completed (learning lines, cleaning the apartment, literally my entire job at school) but when I sit down at my desk, I can’t focus on doing them. It’s terrible. Why can’t I complete tasks like a normal person?HOW #2: How to I figure out what I need?

Do I need more space? Probably. A’s not working right now, except from home, which somehow really irks me. I run to work at 11am, then to rehearsal at 5pm, then home at 8pm, and then he’s there and wants to talk… so YES, I need space.

But even when I have it, I’m not happy. I need MORE. Or I need something else. I need him to make choices? I need to relax more? I need to work harder? I seriously don’t know what I need. It would be so much easier if I could answer the question A asked me today: “Is there anything I can do, or say, or is there a food, or an object, or an activity that would make you feel better?” How the fuck do I know? I WISH there was.

HOW #3: How can I stay focused?

The second I get busy I lose my drive. I simply can’t fathom picking up my script and memorizing lines, so I wander around and submit audiobook auditions. What IS that? I know I need to clean the apartment, but instead I take a bath. WHY? I know A’s coming home so I should enjoy my me-time but instead I lock myself in the closet to do voiceovers, which I could do to get space when he IS around. WHY?

HOW #4: I don’t even know how to cohesively write a post right now, so how on earth am I going to accomplish anything else today? HOW????

 

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!

All she has to do is exist.

“‘You have the luxury of time. You’re young. Young people are doing something even when they’re doing nothing. A young woman is conduit. All she has to do is exist.’ You have time. Meaning don’t use it, but pass through time in patience, waiting for something to come. Prepare for its arrival. Don’t rush to meet it. Be a conduit. I believed him. I felt this to be true. Some people might consider that passivity but I did not. I considered it living.”
The Flamethrowers, by Rachel Kushner

One of the strangest things about day-to-day life is how mundane it seems. I get up. I go to the gym. I go to work. I go home. I make soup. I watch bad TV. I try and get auditions. I go to bed. Ostensibly, “nothing” is going on in my life.

I never really listen to music, except when I’m doing something else, like playing a game on my iPad or cooking, and it’s even more rare that I listen to music while walking down the street. But the other night, I did. I was on the train, and an Iron & Wine song came on shuffle. Now, there are LOTS of songs that bring up memories for me. But all of a sudden, this song jerked me into taking a step back and actually looking at what this “nothing” really is. And I’m shocked to discover that these days– morning to night– that feel so devoid, so par for the course, are the building blocks for an amazing life.

Sometimes I feel that way in New York. This place is idealized by so many people (I, for one, never really did– I guess I just always assumed I’d be here, and didn’t fantasize about it at all), and this is where my “nothing” life takes place. The capital of the WORLD. I have to stop myself, often, and marvel at this city. I literally stop in the street sometimes, and look up at the skyscrapers, like a nerd, and think to myself, “I am living a life that others dream of. No matter what else I’m doing, being here is a success.” Because it is. Because New York is fucking hard.

Also, because I am someone who comes from a state with two professional theatres (yes, I said “state” and “two”), I can’t forget my artistic life here. I don’t know how many Broadway and off-Broadway shows I’ve seen for free. This year alone, examples include but are not limited to: Hands on a Hardbody, Romeo and Juliet, The Nance, The Testament of Mary, Little Miss Sunshine, Golden Boy, Picnic… I have seen Julie Andrews in a bathroom, given Liam Neeson back the hat he forgot in a theatre (he was so sweet about it), and seen Patti LuPone, Phylicia Rashad, James Earle Jones, Dianne Wiest, Ellen Burstyn, Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Christopher Lloyd, Fiona Shaw, Daniel Radcliffe, Richard Griffiths, Zosia Mamet, and ENDLESS MORE live onstage, often from a few rows back. How cool is that? And I’ve met some of them too. I did a reading with Anthony Rapp. I did a reading directed by Shirley Knight. Stephen Sondheim saw me act. (sorry, Braggy McGhee just got excited).

L received news that she will receive her last chemo treatment on December 17. That’s literally two years and ten days after her initial diagnosis. She texted me and asked me to be there. I will. And I’m can’t believe it. Walking with L down this path has been so strange and awful and important and… it’s hard to talk about. When I talk about it too much, I feel like I’m being a “poor me” jerk who thinks she was more important than she actually was. But I have to be honest– I was there for a LOT of it. Probably more than anyone else besides her parents. That’s not nothing. And cancer, like all diseases, is powerful. It is a nuclear bomb, and anyone who is nearby when it explodes is infected with radiation. And those of us who bear it, and live with it, uncomfortable though it is, emerge with superpowers. Like Spiderman. (someone shut me up)

Then “Now We Can See” by the Thermals came on as I was trudging up the subway stairs. The last song in the first show “my” company ever produced. 2010. We were very young, kinda dumb, but with enthusiasm and self-confidence, poured to overflowing into this strange group of young people. What a strange, wonderful first New York theatrical experience. We won awards and got raves, yes, which was amazing and thrilling and great, but even more special was the feeling that washed over all of us as we sang this song, stomping, clutching the mikes, shaking our styled hair, in one of the most historic theatres in New York. What was that feeling? A strange mix of confidence, hope, and more than anything, joy. We overflowed. Regardless of what would happen next, those moments in the Ellen Stewart Theatre were unforgettable.

I spent four years with my therapist, and now I’m phasing out. I think I have two more sessions. WHO KNEW I’d ever get to this point? I sure didn’t. I frankly didn’t know what I thought, but in the last four years, I’ve felt so far from “stable” that leaving wasn’t even a thought. But here I am. Moving forward, out of therapy, because I have done so much goddamn work. And that’s the most amazing thing– not, “oh my god, weirdo me is leaving therapy! Crazy!” but “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.

 

It was such a good idea…

But life intervened. Per usual.

As you can see, I’m not posting really, like at all. Even those cute daily worksheets. Why, you ask? Is everything okay?

So, the answers to all your burning questions:

1. I am okay. I’m on the better side of okay, actually– I’ve lately been very successful with looking at the daily work and each little step with great confidence, rather than looking at everything from a wide lens and freaking out about how behind I am. This is keeping me pretty happy– like a step above “happy enough to function.”

2. Eating is good. I think about it, sure, but I don’t binge. This is miraculous to the me of 2 years ago, when I couldn’t imagine this kind of freedom.

3. A is struggling. His agent (very kindly, but still) dropped him a couple of weeks ago, and general malaise about not working and worrying about money has cast a shadow over him this month. Still, we have managed to find many moments of levity, including a beautiful day at the Brooklyn Book Festival.

4. I will likely be writing less here because I’m working on putting together something exciting and new and totally terrifying with a colleague. Not a solo piece per se… But something we create with me as the axis, as it were. I’m interested in exploring fantastical short stories in theatrical form (Oh hi, it’s me, Pretentious Polly). Karen Russell, Aimee Bender, George Saunders, etc.

5. I’m taking “workshops.” I hate this shit. But if I want to get into these casting offices, I have to go. And I have to nail it EVERY TIME. I’ve got an important one (prob my most important casting office) on Monday.

6. I got asked to do a private reading for the director of American Stare. At his house, which is stressful. With a German accent, which is SUPER stressful. Anything else– British, Irish, Southern, French– but German is really hard for me. I’m working on it!

7. The biggest news is that I’m leaving therapy. Yeah, bomb drop! I’m in such a good place with such a good support system and I’ve really internalized my therapist’s voice… That I really am ready. We both agreed, but I was the one who really said it in as many words. I’m sad, because she is a PART of me, and I love her in a way I’ve never loved anyone, but I’m proud.

8. Cat’s good, mom’s good, money is tight, and I still cry when I walk into a theatre. But I feel like I can see my feet on the earth, pushing off, making prints. I am moving, I am making an impact, and the air is clear.

I am here. I read your blogs. I send you love. And feeling still and strong in this whirlwind makes me certain without a doubt that “okay-ness” is possible and coming for all of us in this tiny blog circle.

Till next time, loves.

xoxo
B