Category Archives: Fighting Fear

Moving On Up

I’d like to start out by apologizing for my lack of posting. I know I promised a series on “How x Saved Me From My Eating Disorder”, but it somehow fell by the wayside. I spent my holiday trying to maximize my free time, and see friends who were only home for limited stays. Then, I ended up falling into a place of uncertainty about using my voice. I tend to be an “all-or-nothing” kind of girl, and when I found out that my voice had been used for harm instead of good, I chose to shut it down completely. I slowly came to my senses, and found a balance.

Since then, I’ve been working on creating a blog/website for my new holistic nutrition business. (If you’d like the link, please contact me. I don’t necessarily want to link all the personal stuff I’ve posted here to a business I’m trying to keep somewhat professional). That, plus school, plus managing a store full time, plus board-of-directoring, plus therapy, plus trying to maintain some semblance of a yoga practice and social life has left me somewhat burned out.

Today, however, I made a big decision, and I thought it should be shared:

I’m selling my Wii.

If you haven’t been reading, or don’t remember, my Wii is the only scale in my house. I figured it was safer than a “real” scale, since it takes so long to boot up (is that the phrase you tech-savvy kids are using today?) and I couldn’t bother booting up more than once a day (usually). Turns out, there is NO SUCH THING as a safe scale. I was still obsessed, and now I had an on-screen chart showing me a graph of my weight loss, and then weight gain. OH! And did I mention that a little voice tells you, after the number flashes on the screen, “That’s Underweight!” The day when it announced “That’s Normal!” nearly did me in. Standing naked on a Wii balance board, sobbing, while being stared at by a computer animated version of yourself is an experience that I don’t recommend.

So this sale marks the end of another piece of my imprisonment. Just maybe, by unchaining my leg from the scale, my heart will feel a little lighter, and my mind a little freer. Oh! And my wallet a little fatter. And you know what? I think I’m okay with not knowing. I’ll never know til I try.

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Litany Against Fear

I saw this Zen Pencils comic, and thought it was worth sharing. What fears do you need to face?

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December 23, 2012 · 2:58 PM

Dammit (Janet) – Exercise Addiction

I’m sick. It’s just a cold, but it’s my first one in a year, and it’s taking it out of me.

The bigger problem: I’m supposed to be going to yoga class right now.

Now, as WGT well knows, while I admit to having overexercised in the past as a part of my eating disorder, I will SWEAR UP AND DOWN that I do not now, nor have I ever had an exercise addiction. As far as I am concerned, the mechanism of my eating disorder was based on a series of obsessive calories in/calories out (and then some) calculations, and exercise was obviously a big part of those calculations. But when I decided to recover, I considered my exercise obsession a thing of the past.

Today, however, I’m beginning to have doubts.

Dammit.

I had a midterm and a presentation today at school, and was fully planning on leaving at lunch (long presentations prevented that), but was still planning on going to yoga class. I have a studio introductory pass: I have to get the most out of that 30 days for $30, don’t I?

So I’m sitting on my couch, binge-drinking water, Emergen-C, and tea, and trying to psych myself up to get out the door for class. It’s cold and rainy in Toronto today, though . . . surely that will make my cold worse? And if I get sicker, and I have to miss work, it’s going to really mess me up financially, especially since it’s the holidays.

But . . . in all honesty, my body has been freaking me out lately. My thighs seem to be touching  differently,  and my waist is looking more solid these days. I haven’t weighed myself in about 6 weeks, which is the longest I’ve gone in, well, ages, by about 4 weeks.  It’s a combination of trying to overcome my obsession with the number on the scale, and the fear of what that number will be . . . as well as the fact that the only scale in my house lives in the form of my Wii Fit Plus, which I only use as a scale. If I stop weighing myself, I can sell it and put the money towards more yoga classes!

Long story short, I didn’t go to yoga class. And I’m freaking out. I’m freaking out about my body, and I’m freaking out about being a lazy person, and I’m freaking out about being faced with the fact that I have to admit to an exercise addiction.

It’s so frustrating. Everyone else seems to get to exercise as much as they want, without anyone telling them it’s a problem, and without having to exercise as much as they can. (insert pity party here)

So I’m sitting with it. I hate it. I keep debating whether to run myself through a yoga sequence at home, or just take a sick day. (Sick days? What are those? As it stands, I’ve only had 3 days off in the past month . . . most of which have been spent studying.)

The moral of the story is: I’ll survive. But it sucks.

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Get Out And Stay Out

Get Out And Stay Out, from the musical 9 to 5

This was my “Get out of my head, ED” song during my recovery. This is not my bootleg, nor do I condone bootlegging, but I thought you should see the whole video. SJB is pretty stellar, and you should see her whole performance. 

Have you ever seen the movie, “Sleeping With The Enemy?” Julia Roberts plays a woman trapped in an abusive relationship. She fakes her own death to escape her husband, but he figures it out and tracks her down. *SPOILER ALERT* She kills him.

But what do you do when the abusive relationship is in your own head? It’s not just the eating disorder voice. That one I can recognize and separate myself from, but there is another voice. It’s been with me from my earliest memories, at 2 or 3, standing, staring in the mirror, telling me I’m fat and ugly, that I hate myself, and tearing chunks out of my thighs. That voice uses my own voice. I don’t know where it begins and I end, or if it is, in fact, me.

I was horrified this week in school learning about the extent of the irreversible damage starvation can do to your body. It made me realize: I wasn’t waging a war with my body, I was waging a war with myself. I don’t want to destroy my body, I’ve been trying to destroy myself, to kill off the part of me that is so unworthy and unlovable. I don’t know what part that is anymore.

But how am I supposed to leave my abusive relationship? If I run, it comes with me. If I hide, it’s right there beside me. I feel like it’s come down to the final showdown. I can’t live my life with this battle in my head anymore, but I feel like if I try to run, it’ll kill me anyhow. It’s “kill or be killed”, but it’s me either way.

It’s like being trapped in a burning building. Do you try to jump out the window and take your chances or give up and let yourself burn? I’ve got to find the courage to jump. I’m scared of what will be waiting for me. I’m afraid of what will happen if I catch up with myself. This is it: the big battle. This is where it started, and where it has to end.

Wish me luck.

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An Eating Disorder Parable

That’s right. Not a song title. And the use of a word that harkens back to my über-religious past.

I am SO not Jesus, but here goes.

Something happens. Or a lot of somethings happen. She decides that the only thing that will make her life liveable is walking in the desert, as far as she can go.

The sun beats down, but the blistering of her skin mirrors the pain in her heart, so she embraces it and keeps walking.

There is no water, but the burning in her throat distracts her from the thoughts tumbling through her head.

The sand is difficult to walk on, and she is soon tired, but her only option is to walk on, so on she walks.

One day, she reaches what must be the middle of the desert. Her skin is raw, her throat is parched, and she can’t keep walking: she can’t stand anymore.

She sits and weighs her options. If she keeps walking onward, her circumstances won’t change and she will likely die. She will be tormented by her reasons for walking until the end. If she decides to return to civilization, the pain of the desert will end, but she will have to face everything she’s been walking away from.

She realizes that no matter how far she walks, her problems walk right alongside her. She can’t escape them. She decides that it might be worth it, going back. Maybe if she faces her problems head on, she’ll finally be free. If it’s too much, she can always walk back into the desert.

She’s made the choice. Shouldn’t it be over now?

No. She still has a long journey to make. Her footprints in the sand have blown away, so finding her way back is difficult. Sometimes she stops. Sometimes she has to crawl. Sometimes she walks backwards, but it doesn’t help, so she turns around again. It isn’t easy. Along the way, however, she notices things she didn’t notice before when she was stuck in her head. She finds an oasis that offers shade and water. A fellow traveller offers her a canteen so she can carry water with her. The journey back is difficult, but it is made easier when she recognizes and accepts the help offered her.

She returns to civilization to face her problems. Now, she finds, she is a little stronger for her journey. Her skin is a little thicker. Her problems are still large and daunting, but she is better equipped to deal with them. Sometimes she has to take a walk in the desert to survive, but the sunburn and the thirst and the exhaustion are enough to remind her of why she turned around.

One day, she looks out on the desert and realizes she doesn’t need it anymore. She can live in civilization and deal with things that come her way. She is stronger. She is free.

Maybe not today, but someday.

 

 

 

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Consider Yourself

I had French toast today.

Just thought I’d get that out of the way. To those who know my eating habits, it’s pretty shocking, so calm down before you read the rest.

Inhale through the nose, exhale through the nose.

Feel better? Good.

How did it come to this? The eating of French toast?

It all started on Wednesday. I was in yoga class, balancing on my hands in Crow Pose. Had some good balance going on, and after holding it for a while my teacher said, “Ok, Kelly. Now jump it back into chaturanga.” (Non yogis: picture kicking your legs from a crouching handstand to a push-up position in one movement)

I looked at her like she was crazy.

Doesn’t she know I’m weak? I’m still too damaged physically to do anything like that. I’m not well enough.

I tried it, half just to prove to her how incapable I was.

You know what? I got about half way back. I tried again. I got one leg back into position. By this time, we were ready to move on with class.

Holy shit! I almost did it! I vowed to work on it at home until I could do it.

Sometimes in yoga class, the teacher has you set an “intention” for your practice. It can be something you want to get out of it, something you want to let go of, or whatever. I usually focus on sending love or healing to a friend. It’s easier for me to focus on something external.

Today, however, I decided to try to do the class without treating myself like a sick person. I’d still listen to my body, but I wouldn’t back off saying, “That’s good enough for someone like me.”

The teacher taught us to jump from downward dog, through our arms, and land sitting with our legs stretched out in front. It’s not as easy as it sounds. Normally I’d try once or twice then call it “Good enough”. I couldn’t get it in those two tries, so I had to try again, and again. By about my tenth try, I squeaked my legs through. I did it 3 or 4 more times, and did it successfully. I can “jump through to seated”!

I realized, while all this was going on, that I do the same thing with food. I don’t really push myself anymore. I mean, I can eat 3 meals a day, at home or at restaurants, but I still have a lot of food rules. Right now my eating borders on orthorexia (obsessive healthy eating . . . more on that in a later post), and it doesn’t really bother me. There isn’t much I want to eat that I can’t make a healthy version of. Why bother fixing it if it isn’t really a problem? Today, however, I found a reason why.

Friends were having lunch at Cora’s (a popular brunch place in Canada) and while the food is delicious, it’s not exactly a health food restaurant. I looked at the menu, and there were very few things I could eat, given my current food restrictions. Basically, the only thing I could eat without alteration would be poached eggs and fruit. Maybe toast. Not exactly a meal worth spending “dining out” money on. I screwed my courage to the sticking place and ordered French toast. My first “not 100% clean” meal since I started eating again. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t earth-shatteringly good.

But that wasn’t the point. I pushed myself, and I could do it. I did it not because I wanted French toast, but because I wanted to eat lunch with friends without being a freak.

Well, I’m still a bit of a freak, but only inasmuch as I’m proud to be a freak, and letting my freak flag fly.

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Hiding in Plain Sight

Last year, as soon as my last acting contract was over, I essentially went into hiding. I couldn’t bear to be seen. My last show had been torture. Not because of the show itself, but the horrible public-ness of it. I was creating a new role in a new show, so during the rehearsal period I wasn’t just being watched for choreography, acting, and vocal stuff, but for whether the show itself worked. For a girl who was trying desperately, both literally and figuratively, to disappear, this was incredibly painful. I didn’t want to be seen. 8-10 shows a week, depending on the schedule, however, I was seen.

As soon as the show ended, I disappeared. I hid in my apartment, I hid in my eating disorder, I hid in my body. I returned to my “Joe Job” after 4 months away, and my boss didn’t recognize me when I walked in the door. After 5+ years with the same ginger hair color (it’s easier to write “Red” on a resume than Light-Blondeish-Reddish-Brown), I dyed my hair dark. Almost black. I had one last show to do – a concert. I did my best to stay invisible. There’s a few pictures from it on broadwayworld.com (You didn’t actually think I’d link to them, did you?). You can see my shoulder in one, and my bangs in another. Hiding in plain sight.

Nowadays, I still don’t really want to be seen. I know I’ll never have any semblance of a life if I keep hiding in the shadows, but stepping out of the darkness takes a lot of courage. I’m getting better at it, but I still feel guilty for taking up space a lot of the time. It’s a work in progress.

I found a quote on my computer today that I’d saved back in the day called “The Actor’s Vow” by Elia Kazan. It makes being visible sound a whole lot more appealing and noble. It talks specifically to actors, but I think it can apply to real life, too. I think it might be what being alive, being real, being seen is all about. It might be something to consider.

I will take my rightful place on the stage
And I will be myself.
I am not a cosmic orphan
I have no reason to be timid.
I will respond as I feel; awkwardly, vulgarly,
But respond.
I will have my throat open.
I will have my heart open.
I will be vulnerable.
I may have anything or everything the world
Has to offer, but the thing
I need most, and want most, is to be myself.
I will admit rejection, admit pain, admit
Frustration, admit even pettiness, admit
Shame, admit outrage, admit anything and
Everything that happens to me.
The best and most human parts of me are
Those I have inhabited and hidden from
The world.
I will work on it.
I will raise my voice.
I will be heard.

THE ACTOR’S VOW
Elia Kazan

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