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

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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.