Homecoming

For all my “feeling good” posts of the last few days… i’m having a problem.I get home from tech & rehearsals late — between 9pm (if I’m lucky) and 10:30pm. I have been at work since usually 11am, packed lunch, had snacks like a Larabar, apple, latte, and whatever generally unhealthy food there is at the theatre.

I know I need to eat when I get home.

The problem is I OVEReat.

I know that being hungry is triggering for me, plus it’s my only time alone ALL DAY (I love A, but seriously, I NEVER have the apartment to myself, which drives me NUTTY), which is also triggering. I’m trying to come up with a way to make it less hard to eat enough and healthily.

Ideas?

The Ultimatum

I finally got the ultimatum I’d been waiting for:
If you take the acting job in Idaho, then you can’t be a full-time Assistant.

At the end of this summer, I will lose my job.

I have worked in this position since I was a sophomore in college, slowly taking on more and more responsibility. I have been salaried (LOW) for two years. This semester, my boss is on sabbatical so for all intents and purposes, I am running the Theatre Program. If I accepted the full-time position I’d have steady work with a good boss in a job I like and am good at, plus benefits, health, and a higher salary.

But I’m not taking it.

I should be terrified. I mean, I AM terrified. I haven’t been completely jobless in… ever. Really. And I like this job, and care about the work I do. But the main feeling I’m experiencing right now?

Relief.

Because this choice is not a choice. I can’t possibly forfeit a great, professional, $800/week gig for the stability of a day job. I have left other jobs for lesser gigs. I AM AN ACTOR. Not always, often not working, but this is my forever-job. I want to do this until my brain short-circuits and I can’t remember lines anymore, or until my legs give out and I have to play Blanche in a wheelchair. Admin work? That’s all to serve the dream.

So yes, I’m scared, and sad, and a bit nervous. But I have time to think and plan, and I have a little cushion of savings, and I have a wonderful man and a cat who love me, and I have a 2 month gig that will take me home to my family, who will help me move to the next step. And I will also have freedom. Which is scary, yes, but also… you know… freeing.

I know what I want. And that feels good.

Creepy Stalker

Sometimes, I wish that one specific person would read my blog.

And by one specific person, I mean someone who I have this weird obsession with. Someone I have never met, and someone I don’t like on principle. Someone who I want to obsess over me.

By one specific person, I mean A’s ex.

I can’t explain this consuming obsession I have with her. I check her Facebook and Twitter daily. I read her blogs. I stalk their old correspondence (most of which is gone because A is incredibly sweet and generous and 100% mine and deleted it or threw it out). On a daily. basis. Not good, team.

To backtrack briefly, my therapist lent me this book called Attached— mostly to glance over in regards to my relationship with my mother. Most of the book, though, is about romantic attachments. It posits there are three types of attachment: secure, anxious, and avoidant. Our relationship is remarkably secure (the ideal attachment style)– we are independent, but comfortable relying on each other, equally loving, good at communicating through issues, etc.

However, I definitely have traits of anxious attachment. This is a problem in my general life, too, and something that’s a constant topic in therapy. If someone is upset, I blame myself. This ain’t great for relationships. Luckily, we’re good communicators, so we get through it. The ex-gf stalking, though, is like, EPICALLY anxious. What is it about?! I really can’t explain it.

Back to A– he’s remarkably secure (almost textbook). However, he has a few, I dunno… “concerning” avoidant traits.

1. He cheated on the first girl he lived with (who is the one he loved the most fully before me, according to him). He describes the total detachment of it. That’s not, like, a great sign.
2. He’s lived with two girls prior to me. Now, that means nothing, really, but it could be a sign that he doesn’t see living together as as big of a step as maybe I do. (do I?)
3. He was 110% going to marry the last girl for the first years of their relationship. Although, of course, they didn’t marry, and that was really because he realized they were going in separate directions.
4. He’s not nostalgic. This is just plain weird to me. God knows I’m disgustingly nostalgic and loyal. I can’t let ANYTHING go. He doesn’t speak to his exes. He doesn’t really speak to, like, anyone, except me.
5. He doesn’t speak to anyone except, like, me. I know he hasn’t been in the city as long as I have, and most of his friends are back in Philly, but… he doesn’t really have friends. That’s weird to me. All I usually have are friends.
6. He went from working with his ex DAILY for YEARS to not speaking to her (and this is post-breakup years). It has been months. That seems abrupt. And he doesn’t seem to miss her. Which on the one hand is GREAT! But on the other… feels like a red flag?
7. He lies. He lied to his ex about little things while we’ve been together, which is fine. But he’s lied to her before. And he’s not particularly open with anyone but me about anything in his life. I learned over Thanksgiving that his parents didn’t even know we’d done a weekend trip to Amish country and Hershey Park in September. THAT seems like a huge omission.

So. Does any of this make me doubt his love?

I don’t know. No. I don’t doubt he loves me. I have never felt more loved, supported, cared for, important. I have never felt so sure of a relationship and so confident in myself with another human being.

So why do I stalk his ex-girlfriend? Some theories.

1. I want to know what happened to this LONG relationship that they both thought would lead to marriage.
2. I want to know if he loves me more than he loved her, and I’m jealous of their long time together (4 years).
3. I want to feel like the most important part of his life.
4. I want her to feel jealous of me.
5. I want her to be single. (WHY do I want this?! Am I evil?! But I DO!! I can’t wait till she breaks up with her new boyfriend!! What is this demon inside me?!!)

I have no explanation, is really what I mean. But I think I need to detox. Or something.

Okay. Here’s what I’m gonna do.

1. My sister’s here this week, so I’m going to not talk to him about this yet. We should be alone.
2. When we can be alone, I’m going to tell him that for some reason, I feel a lot about his ex.
3. I’m going to ask him to just tell me everything he can about her and their relationship. I don’t care if I’ve heard it all before. I need to hear it again. I need to hear that our love is different.
4. I’ll detox from my stalking. Just 100% cut. that. shit. out.

Okay. HAVE to go to bed.

(it’s been a shitty weekend because A’s away at Army, and my sister’s in town but not with me. I spent the whole day alone. I didn’t binge, but I ate more than I wanted today and especially after losing 5 lbs from being sick… I’m thinking about it. I HATE thinking about it. I want my love home to me. It gets worse when he’s away.)

(Ohmigod also THIS IS IT: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/valley-girl-brain/201003/the-power-the-ex-girlfriend )

Addict on Addiction

Upon my Lady Friend’s (I guess this will be her official title on the blog?) suggestion, I borrowed her Husband’s copy of Beautiful Boy, a memoir from a father about his meth-addicted son. She’d read it because she’d just complted a film (which the Husband wrote/directed) about a heist by meth addicts gone wrong. I’ve been interested in meth as a sociological and cultural part of the fabric of America (oh god, I’m that girl) for a while. I grew up in a state that boasts top 3 status of meth addicts in the nation. Although I went to a very sheltered high school and lived a very sheltered life in a good neighborhood, when I was 15, a house exploded two blocks from my house. There was a basement meth lab.

I read a book called Methland a while ago, and was completely intrigued. Meth is unique and uniquely influential drug. First of all, it came to prominence for a few incredibly logical reasons– with the rising economic troubles in middle America, people had to work harder, for longer hours, for less money. Meth is a serious upper. It allows the user to have huge reserves of energy. One could work for hours straight with great speed and efficiency, and without rest or hunger. Laborers could work hard and fast, stay-at-home parents could keep on top of all their chores, and women could get skinny. Plus, it was able to be manufactured at home with just a few household chemicals. It was cheap, easy, and worked fast. These are very logical reasons for generally straight-laced citizens to try drugs.

The real problem, though, is what the drug does. Meth affects the “pleasure” neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin. The high is strong, quickly acting, and lasts long. A user gets an effective high without the quickly dropping low of cocaine or heroin. However, the drug actually damages these parts of the brain. A user will need more and more meth to activate those “pleasure” receptors. Very quickly, meth becomes the only thing that actually can activate those receptors. That’s why the drug is so addictive. It is still unclear whether a meth addict can ever experience pleasure in the way non-addicts can. That’s why the recidivism rate of meth addiction is over 90% by most estimates. It’s a nasty, nasty, nasty drug.

This evening, I took a walk to the organic grocery where I bought my first kombucha in months, then to Rite Aid for TP, soy sauce, and some clearance lip gloss and blush. At the register, I eyed the cigarettes behind the counter. I have never smoked a cigarette. Not even a puff. For a long moment, I wanted to buy them. Just to see. Maybe it would help.

I didn’t buy the cigarettes. And I will never touch methamphetamines. And I drink, but not heavily, and I’ve smoked pot, but not much.

My drug is food.

I went for a walk tonight because I had binged. A big one. A bad one. The kind I could have avoided if I had the energy or willpower or wherewithal or whatever to do the work it would require mentally to prevent it. I didn’t. I binged. But then I went for a walk. I cleaned up the kitchen. I drank a kombucha and I put on some lipgloss. I dealt with it like a champ.

Sometimes my ED feels like the end of the world. I hate the way it monopolizes my brain space. I hate how it makes me hate myself.

But it’s not killing me. My body is fighting through admirably, and so is my mind.

I experience plenty of happiness without my “drug” of choice. I’m getting better at isolating that happiness. I’m going to be fine.

For once, in a very real way, I’m grateful for my ED.

Don’t Mean to Disturb

But what I really need is for some of you virtual friends to tell me I’m not crazy. To tell me I’m not insane for thinking I’m fat and worthless. To tell me I’m not looney tunes for second guessing my every move. To tell me that fucking up is an everyday thing. To reassure me that the shape/size/weight I am does not determine my abilities…. although I may not ever believe that.

Please? Can you do that for me?

Sexual Errors

I made a mistake.

I told him that if he came, he could stay with me.

In no uncertain terms, I implied that if he came, I would sleep with him.

I don’t want to sleep with him, especially in this tiny twin bed in this mansion on a floor with five other people.

I thought he wouldn’t come. In fact, I knew he wouldn’t come just to support me. So why I thought it was a good idea to ply him with an offer to stay with me is just idiotic.

I don’t want to sleep with him. Not like this.

How do I get out of it? I have been accused of blue-balling before because I have a very hard time saying no thanks. But sometimes I don’t know until the last second and I know that’s bullshit but shouldn’t I be allowed to choose?

What do I do? He wouldn’t come until after July 8. I can’t just say “I changed my mind,” even though that’s the truth, and that’s what I want to say. Do I lie and say we can only have one guest at a time in the house and unfortunately someone else got priority?

I should have left this alone. I was doing well. But I think in my heart I just really want someone to fall in love with me and want to be with me and see my show. I so deeply fear that none of my friends will come out.

And if that happens… well, were they even my friends in the first place? Especially knowing how important it is to me.

But promising sex in order to get someone to come out to see a show they should want to see anyway because I’m in it and it means a lot to me… that’s bullshit, and I fucked up. If he, or other he, or whoever, only comes because I’ve promised sex, and otherwise wouldn’t bother, why on earth would I want to have sex with them anyway?!

I have to stop. This has to stop.

Maybe I need new friends.

Daily Reminders

Lately, I’ve had to have some serious reality checks with myself.

What Happens: A boy I know posts on Facebook that “I had a mtg with a BIG agent at GERSH! and tomorrow they’re putting me on tape for a Lincoln Center play!”
What I Feel: “Why did he get a meeting with Gersh? God, I can’t even get an audition for off-off-Broadway. It’s because he’s thin.”
What I Tell Myself: He is a boy. It is easier for boys to sign with agents. You know he is not particularly talented– you did plays with him. He will not book that part. Take it one day at a time. Plus you don’t want to be friends with someone who brags like that on Facebook.

What Happens: I weigh myself after two days of binging, and I’m up at least 3 lbs from where I was the last time.
What I Feel: “You are so. fat. You should be ashamed. Stop eating. You’re disgusting and no one will ever love you or cast you when you look like this.”
What I Tell Myself: Let it go. You had a rough couple of days. Every day is a step in the right direction. 3 pounds is not necessarily visible. Take a breath. Don’t let it ruin your day.

What Happens: I am doing yoga at the gym next to a beautiful, slender young woman about my age.
What I Feel: “You fat, ugly, lazy whore. You should look like that girl. Next to her, you are a bloated, red-faced whale.”
What I Tell Myself: You are not here to compare yourself to that girl. She doesn’t want to be compared to you either. No one is watching you, no one cares. Breathe through your yoga. One day at a time.

What Happens: My friend doesn’t text me back until an hour before the event I texted her to see if she was attending.
What I Feel: She hates me. She read my text message and just didn’t want to go with me.
What I Tell Myself: She does not hate you. She was probably babysitting or not by her phone or in an audition or just didn’t respond immediately. It has nothing, nothing to do with you.

What Happens: I forget to call my grandmother and thank her for her birthday card and $100 check, and I’m scolded by my parents.
What I Feel: You are a horrible granddaughter. Why do you think you’re not the favorite?! Because you do shit like this. She’s going to die and you will hate yourself.
What I Tell Myself: Yup, you fucked up. Breathe. Write her a card. Apologize. She’s your grandmother. She’ll move on.

What Happens: I get cast in a part in a play. It’s a big part in a big play at a theatre that’s bigger than I’m used to.
What I Feel: How the fuck did I think I was meant to do this? I will be a complete disaster. I will not be able to learn my lines, I’ll be the weakest link, I’ll get a terrible review in the NY Times.
What I Tell Myself: Feeling this way is normal. It would be crazy not to be scared. They would not have cast you if you couldn’t handle it. They will not fire you, and you’ve worked hard and had payoff before. This is just part of the process.

What Happens: Your high school boyfriend is wonderful, and then you let him leave your apartment, text him the next day to thank him, and he never responds, and now he’s back in London for at last another year. And another ex-boyfriend is seeing someone else, someone older, someone from his own race (he’s Asian-American).
What I Feel: Everyone you love leaves you. No one else’s heart is broken years after the initial break. You’re weak and desperate and will never be loved the way you want.
What I Tell Myself: Sadness is normal. Moving on is hard. And just because you haven’t seen someone in two years and haven’t dated in five doesn’t mean you can’t still feel love for him and sadness when he leaves. But you’ll move forward. You always do.

What do you tell yourself to get through the rough patches?

Thy life’s a miracle.

I’ve been letting my Shakespeare class creep under my skin this semester. My Juliet, my Portia, my Nurse… their stories and their words, but also the way I feel in playing them, in “walking with them,” as Patty Clarkson said. There is resonance. There is depth.

“Acting is uniting energy with breath.”

Below are some of my thoughts from the semester, quotes from class and from life that have spoken to my work in Shakespeare this semester. I have always been a Shakespeare obsessive, but more than any other time in my life, with the space to fail (no grades), the ability to shine (alum in a student class), a relationship with the professor, and the ability to do the class while not playing a lead in a show and struggling with the first steps of recovery… I think Shakespeare has taught me more about myself than he ever has.

“Hysterics suffer mainly from reminiscings.” –Sigmund Freud

In Juliet’s first monologue in the play, “Thou knows’t the mask of night is on my face,” she’s struggling for the right words to say. She’s stumbling over phrases and and the explosion of emotion from the carapace of knowledge.

THIS is what acting is. Having the logic and the structure– the lines, the blocking, the story–and, in the playing of it, allowing the id, the truth, the feeling, the reaction, to bubble out. And, too, isn’t that what life is? At least mine. I set up my life– my tasks, my schedule– but the chaos inside still bubbles out, must bubble out. It’s messy, but it’s honest.

“The play is supposed to be a comedy, but today I’m a tragedy.” That’s life. That’s the work.

“Comedy is life invincible.” –Joseph Campbell

When L was first diagnosed with lymphoma, I spend four or five days with her, going from appointment to appointment so her doctors could gather more information. On the morning of the day L would be admitted to Sloan Kettering, I accompanied her to get an “echocardiogram,” essentially an ultrasound of her heart. While L lay on the exam table and the doctor began to move the sensor around her chest and back, I watched on the monitor as each valve in her heart beat in perfect time. I twas remarkable. I felt myself catching my breath, suddenly terrified something would hiccup, beat out of tempo, even stop. Of course, it didn’t stop. And it never beat out of tempo– dun DUN dun DUN dun DUN. In perfect iambic pentameter. “in SOOTH i KNOW not WHY i AM so SAD.”

But what really struck me about it was the constancy, the simplicity, of what gives us life. Our hearts are muscles, but we don’t muscle them– we can’t. We simply live, move through our days and despite the chaos of it, our existence is predicated on a simple, rhythmic thump. This is Shakespeare. For all its complexities, scholarship, and performance, Shakespeare creates a reliable, beating heart upon which we build these stories. So too with the breath,the  pure, simple in-and-out is all that’s required to live in Shakespeare’s world.

That’s how I came at Portia, from the steady beating heart and the pure flow of breath. Allowing the muscle to do its work without muscling. Allowing the terror of “what if it stops,” “what if it stumbles,” to fade, bravely trusting the internal and unconscious to keep going, keep beating, keep breathing. It’s scary for me to do that– to trust myself (my heart, my breath, my voice, my body, the language) to be enough to keep me floating.

At this moment in my life, I am seeing every day in myself and my friends, the necessity of surrender, the trust in self.

I AM ENOUGH to survive cancer.
I AM ENOUGH to bear the never-ending rejection of this business.
I AM ENOUGH to have great friends, to be loved, to live the kind of life I’ve chosen, 3,000 miles from home.

In letting Portia let go of her fears, of her status, her inhibitions, her blood, to simplyreach Brutus, I am rehearsing my own letting go, trusting the da DUM da DUM da DUM da DUM– the constant, regular heartbeat– that is enough to build an entire life on.

“Thy life’s a miracle.” King Lear

“You acted the SHIT out of that play.”

Massacre (Sing to Your Children)

Tonight I saw Jose Rivera’s new play at the Rattlestick, Massacre (Sing to Your Children). I didn’t love the play, but I absolutely respect it, and it was extra awesome because Jose Rivera was actually in the show tonight– one of the actors was out, he was around, so he decided to do it. It was pretty amazing to see someone onstage in his own play whose work I’ve read over and over in Theatre History courses.

The play begins with 7 people running into what looks like a horror movie torture chamber, covered in blood in crazy masks, carrying machetes and knives. Over the course of the first act, we learn that they have just slaughtered “Joe,” a man who seems to have taken tyrannical, bloody rule over their New Hampshire town. At the very last moment of the act, we hear three knocks on the door– Is Joe alive?!

Act II begins with the 7 actors in the same shocked position as the first ended, but now with a small man in a white suit with a red poppy on his lapel– Joe. He doesn’t really exist… yet they all can hear him… Whatever, that’s not the point.

The point is that in this second act, Joe goes one by one to each person, grilling them and exposing their deepest secrets (real or false, it doesn’t even really matter)– one man possibly raped a woman years ago in Chicago, a woman and her mother both slept with Joe, etc.

It got me thinking, though. If that happened to me, what secrets would Joe reveal about me? I tend to feel I’m pretty open on the blog– maybe not in real life but better than some. Yet at the same time, I had a pretty strong reaction of fear just thinking about what a revelation of my deep, dark secrets would mean. But what would they even be?

I still binge all the time and my binges have included boxes of donuts, entire loaves of bread and tubs of hummus? That I masturbate, and have since I was very young? That I haven’t had sex in over a year? That I’m spoiled and privileged and expect a lot from my parents, including financial support? That I wish my sister loved me, but I’m insanely jealous of her and her boyfriend especially?

Honestly, none of these things would ruin my relationships with people, I don’t think. None of these would honestly even shock my friends, probably. So why does the idea of exposed “secrets” cause this knee jerk reaction?

I’m sure it all ties back to shame, that lovely little thing my therapist and I are all about. I feel shame about pretty much everything I do, and it’s not till I completely stop, slow down, and track the reality of a situation that I can convince myself there’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Joe couldn’t actually destroy my life with my secrets.
But it does feel like he could.

B.

 

ABC ED

How old are you?

22, but I turn 23 in exactly one week. Hooray?

What is your gender?

Female.

Do you consider it possible to recover completely from an eating disorder?

Hmm. I do think it’s possible to recover in terms of symptoms– ie. not starve, not binge, not purge, normalize eating patterns. However, my experience of my ED, at least so far, is that it has changed me. I believe my ED is a symptom of my depression, and now that I’ve used this symptom to control my emotions, it will always be a tool available to me, just like self-harming, just like all these other protective measures I use to regulate myself. I don’t think I, or anyone really, can go back to exactly the way they were pre-ED.

Do you consider media (magazines, television, etc) to encourage and contribute to the spread of eating disorders?

This is a complicated question. The media does not cause EDs,no. Have I found it hard to manage gaining weight and maintaining self-confidence and integrity during recovery in a world (and a profession) where size is key? YES. It’s as though an extra layer is put on the process of recovery. I needed to weigh more than I ever had in order to get my body back into functioning mode, but it was nearly impossible to separate my pride of being where I needed to be to be healthy from the self-hatred for being above a “perfect” weight. In other words, it just worsens things, I think.

What do you think is the primary cause of an ED? If you believe that different disorders manifest differently, please specify.

To be honest, I can only speak for myself, but I think it’s the case for many of us. I believe that my ED was a manifestation of other psychological disorders in my history– bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, OCD. It was a new method for me to self-regulate. Personally, it had NOTHING to do with how I looked or the desire to be “perfect” or “remain a child” or those other things people tell you cause EDs. I think each person is different, but like other forms of self-harm, it’s a way to keep scary emotions at bay.

Would you classify yourself as currently suffering from an eating disorder?

I tend to say I’m in recovery, or I’m recovering. That word is meaningless by itself, but to me, it means that I have all the tools in place to move forward– but it means nothing about my “success” in “beating” an ED. I still fuck up, constantly, but I feel my brain and my intentions are in the place where I am slowly, but surely, moving towards health.

Have you ever been in therapy? If so,when?

I saw a therapist as a kid, from around 8 years old to 13ish. I took a long hiatus, when I was doing “well” and my mother crowed on about how I was “fixed.” Obviously, that’s not the way it works, so I started seeing a therapist again in fall of 2009 (funnily enough, I entered into therapy, without meaning to, right in the middle of developing the restriction portion of my eating disorder. In June I called her and told her I wanted to meet, July/August was the first stages of my ED, and then I met her for the first time in Sep. Classic.)

For how long have you suffered from an eating disorder?

Summer of 2009 is when it started, so going on 3 years now. Jesus.

How would you describe your experience with therapy, if applicable?

I couldn’t really tell you what it did when I was a kid, but now I have such a strong relationship with my therapist I think it does a lot. She’s the one person on the planet who I can tell literally anything to with no repercussions. She’s also given me an entirely new language of talking about and processing my feelings. I think our work together has literally changed ways that I think. It’s a great gift.

Do you consider yourself a happy person?

Yes. However, I’m also one of the saddest people I know. Basically, I’m chemically imbalanced in every sense of the word. But I do go through my life with great wonder and joy. (my laugh/cry is legendary)

Do you share the nature of your disorder with anyone in your personal life? If so, describe this relationship.

I sent an email to about 8 of my closest friends during the deepest part of my ED, letting them know that I was struggling and working to recover. I have never talked directly to my parents about it. In the last year, I have talked about my ED (usually just the restriction part– I still find binging to be waaaaay too shameful to discuss with even my therapist) directly with two or so friends. I do not share gory details with anyone except on the internet.

Do you actively hide your disorder from anyone in your personal life? If so, please elaborate.

Not really. I don’t talk about it, never let on if I’ve binged. Sometimes I’ll say “I’m having a rough day,” if the ED has disrupted me in an extreme way. It’s not necessarily that I hide, more that I don’t volunteer information.

Are you a competitive person?

I kind of think I am. I’m not into sports or anything, but I do like to keep one step ahead of the pack. I think it’s tied to my perfectionism and my deep desire to keep everything under control.

Do you believe that you will ever overcome your ED?

Yes? I mean, it’s already been over two years I’ve been actively recovering and I still trip up all the freaking time. I hope someday I have more good days then bad, but to be honest, the recovery process has been even longer and more fraught then I ever thought it would be. If I every do “overcome” my ED, I imagine it’ll be 10+ years from now.

jesus, that’s depressing.