Tag Archives: Music

Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go

Strange title for a post, I know. Always calls to mind Zoolander: Orange Mocha Frappuccinos, anyone?  More importantly, it was the #1 song this week in 1984: the week I was born.

Tomorrow I’m turning 28. (Shocking, I know. In all the pictures of the back of my head I’ve posted I look 25, 26 tops.)

The past year has been quite the ride. I’m not sure what I expected from it. I think 27 was sort of my leap into the unknown. Repeatedly.

I think I expected that once I’d started eating (and had been for a few months by the time my birthday rolled around) that things would just get better and easier all the time. Where food was concerned, that was mostly true. Once I’d conquered a food mountain, it was an easier climb the next time I encountered it.

Unfortunately, I didn’t realize how hard the rest of it would be. 27 has arguably been one of the hardest years of my life. Actually doing the work behind the eating disorder made me realize why I battled the eating disorder for so long. It’s been a lot of white-knuckling and, when that fails, unhealthy coping skills until such time as I learn some healthy ones.

Some things are better, though. I’m learning to actually stay present in life. It’s exhausting and overwhelming, but it’s better to be a part of things than apart from things. I’m learning to actually let people in: to trust people with my spirit and trust that they won’t break it. I’m learning to be selective at who I let in my life. I have met (and kept around) some incredible people this year who inspire me, astonish me, and teach me what it is to be a real person.

I realized recently that there aren’t really “things” anymore that define me. My life doesn’t revolve around dancing, singing, and acting anymore, nor an eating disorder. While I’m in school for holistic nutrition, I’m not a “foodie”. I enjoy yoga, but it’s not my whole life. It’s really the people in my life who make me what I am.

Therefore, I am declaring the year of 28 to be “the year of the people”. May it be the best one yet.

6 Comments

Filed under Blatherings

The Music And The Mirror

I should be doing school work. Just thought I should get that out of the way. This balance of school plus work plus event prep plus yoga plus sanity . . . well, it’s teetering. I’ve got a lot of health stuff to figure out, too. Holding onto the light at the end of the tunnel . . .

Anyhow, even with all of this going on, it feels like something is missing. I’m sure a lot of things are missing, but there’s one thing I’ve been able to pin down.

I’ve never been good at expressing my emotions, and I’m still not very good at it. I’m currently battling with my brain over many things, but this week’s focus is dissociation. I’ve recently realized that I spend most of my life “not really there”. It’s easier that way, it keeps me detached, and feeling safe. It also keeps me disconnected from the rest of the world, which leads to a lot of loneliness. Trying to break that pattern is really hard. It’s exhausting trying to “stay in”, and my brain goes places I don’t want it to. It’s also picked up a new trick or two to keep me away. Sneaky bastard.

But in terms of expression, the only way I’ve ever been able to come close is through music. Dancing is a great expressive outlet, but I’m too focused on technique to fully let go. Singing, I can pretend to be someone else, and using someone else’s words, tell the world my darkest secrets. I miss it. I haven’t really sung for about 18 months now, since “retiring” from musical theatre.

Lately, though, I’ve found myself singing when I close the store (it’s the only place I have where nobody can hear me). While my deteriorating vocal technique stresses me out, the ability to belt at the top of my lungs feels amazing. I’m not a sobber, I’m not a yeller. I’m not good at attaching sound to emotion, but in singing, I do what I can’t do anywhere else.

Sometimes I wish I lived in a musical. Therapy would be so much easier if I could answer  “. . . and how do you feel about that” with a song. It’ll tell you more than my words ever will.

6 Comments

Filed under Blatherings

Nobody Said It Was Easy

Okay, so Google tells me that my title song is actually called “The Scientist”, but that’s not a good name for this post. Also, I feel like the fact that I know ANY of this song is impressive (thank you, alma mater, for making “Commercial Performance” a college credit), given my strong feelings against most mainstream music. But hey, pretty sure I’ve already titled a post Easy To Be Hard, and the titles “Easy Street”, “Easy to Love”, “Easy Life”, “Ballad of the Easy Life”, and “One Hundred Easy Ways” just don’t fit the theme.

The theme:

I got into a discussion today with a friend about how/why you keep going in recovery when everything feels like hell. I seem to be having a lot of those conversations of late. I know my last post talked about how things are getting better, but what I didn’t talk about is how much it really sucks a lot of the time.

It’s exhausting, this recovery business.

  • In order to both live and be able to afford therapy, groups, etc., I have a full time, and a part time job. Come fall, the part time job will be replaced with part time schooling, in addition to the full time job. This I find to be the case with most people recovering from eating disorders. Life goes on, and life is expensive.
  • My body is recovering from a life-threatening illness. It’s not cancer, but there’s plenty of physical mending to be done. It’s re-learning everything, training my new muscles to do what they’re supposed to do, trying to fix my digestion, hormones, bones, skin, nerves, and even my hair. It’s like going through puberty all over again. Again. You think teenagers need a lot of sleep? Meet a recovering anorexic.
  •  For years, I starved away my emotions. Have you ever cried yourself to sleep? I’ve got 16 years of crying to do, and emotions can be draining. Even laughter is foreign, and it requires a lot of energy.
  • Nobody develops an eating disorder just because of a diet that went wrong. Everyone has an underlying cause (or 40) to their eating disorder, and sometimes even unearthing it can be a gruelling process. Every week in therapy, I unearth something else that contributed to my eating disorder. Some things are merely enlightening, some things are devastating. Everything requires digging deep and making changes. Even thinking expends energy.

So why recover? Why bother working so hard? Why go through so much pain?

Well, living with an eating disorder isn’t much different energetically. As much as we try to deny it (and somehow, magically conjure energy out of thin air) calories = energy, and anorexia leaves you with no energy. It is painful, both physically and emotionally, and while working through issues is excruciating, living every day with the thoughts, fears, and rituals, with no end in sight is a far worse fate to settle for.

We keep moving forward because it is the only chance we have at freedom. The only way out of the pain is to move through it. There is no freedom in illness, and even if we stop halfway through the process, deciding it’s “good enough”, we’re still left stuck in the exhaustion, with no hope of rest.

5 Comments

Filed under Blatherings

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

6 Comments

Filed under Blatherings, Fighting Fear

Angry Dance

Seriously. That’s a song title from a musical. Very to-the-point, Sir Elton.

I don’t know if it’s anger or frustration or what, but today is one of those days when I just want to search and destroy. The child in me wants to shred things and bite things and throw things and scream. Alas, I can’t scream. It’s a physical impossibility.

What is the answer to anger expression when you’re an adult? I only know how to express it in unhealthy ways by turning it inwards (that’s usually its origin, anyways, so it’s a short turn). I’d do an angry dance, but everything always ends up too balletic, and that doesn’t exactly lend itself to the expression of anger . . . more the expression of “My, what a pretty flower!” I used to belt my face off (sing), but I’m limited on soundproof spaces, and my deteriorating vocal technique just makes me angrier.

So what does one do with anger when temper tantrums are no longer an option? I suspect tearing my yoga mat along its “Align” lines isn’t the answer . . .

7 Comments

Filed under Rantings

A Quiet Thing

I should be cleaning my apartment right now. It’s not dirty, per se. The laundry on the floor is clean; I just haven’t had the energy to put it away. Same goes with the dishes in the drain tray. There are a few too many papers on my coffee table. So my apartment isn’t dirty, but it’s a little messy. Probably a metaphor for life. Based on the chaos of my life right now, I’d say my apartment looks damned good.

So why am I writing, instead of cleaning? So glad you asked. Believe me, the perfectionist monster in my head is screaming at me to get off my ass and put those towels away. I’ve managed to quiet it some, as there is a load of laundry in the dryer, and chick peas cooking on the stove as I type. (Somebody poke me in ten minutes, or they’ll burn).

Today, I am writing because of a question posed to me (well, everyone) in group therapy today.  We were asked to identify tactics we use to escape reality, which is something I’ve been working on for a while now. That part was easy. Then, we were asked to identify our “pause button” . . . a healthy something we can do to escape the noise and reset our brains. Not so easy. Most things I would do to get out of my head are either blatantly unhealthy, or could easily become so. For example, ballet gets me out of my head, but it’s not something I could do as often as I’d need to, as it could easily lead to an exercise symptom.

I sat there for a long time drawing blanks. If my head is spinning, no amount of reading, tv, computer, music can quiet the noise. Being around people distracts me for a time, but the noise picks back up where it left off as soon as I’m alone again.

Then it hit me. Lately, WGT has had me doing a lot of writing as part of my therapy. On days when I do it, I find I sleep more soundly. I just assumed that it wore me out, but maybe there’s more to it. Then there are times when I’m lost in my head and feeling tortured, and I’ll write something here, on the blog. It doesn’t have to be about what is upsetting me, but spending so much brain power trying to organize my thoughts into words seems to be enough to stop the rest of the noise. It’s my pause button.

Pausing and reflecting in writing seems to keep me from  sitting and spinning in my head, and stops the noise long enough to maybe get some time off after writing. Your comments, both here and via Facebook/Twitter etc., will often prolong the quiet times, sending my brain juices flowing back in this direction instead of towards the murky vortex of doom. (If you say that last part with a creepy voice, it makes it sound way cooler).

So thanks for being a part of what gives my brain a break. Just knowing you’re there, maybe reading, maybe skimming, maybe just looking at the pictures, helps a lot. If you have any brilliant “pause button” ideas of your own, feel free to share.

And just so you know, my chick peas are safely stored and did NOT burn.

*Bonus question: today’s blog title is also the title of a song. 10 points to anyone who can tell me who first sang that song. For those of you keeping track, Tess is in the lead, points-wise. Not that I’m encouraging competition . . . just healthy musical theatre nerd-dom.

6 Comments

Filed under Blatherings, Tips and Tricks (The Healthy Kind)

Easy To Be Hard

Yup. Sticking with the musical theatre titles. Somebody got paid to write them, so they gotta be good, right?

I don’t know about you, but I’m a big pinner on Pinterest these days. I’ve never been a “plan your wedding” kind of girl, but I like a good picture quote, and the odd DIY project. A week ago, I found a quote from an actress I enjoy that made me pause and think. Allow me to share it, along with some space for you to pause and think.

“Being tender and open is beautiful. As a woman, I feel continually shhh’ed. Too sensitive. Too mushy. Too wishy washy. Blah blah. Don’t let someone steal your tenderness. Don’t allow the coldness and fear of others to tarnish your perfectly vulnerable beating heart. Nothing is more powerful than allowing yourself to truly be affected by things. Whether it’s a song, a stranger, a mountain, a rain drop, a tea kettle, an article, a sentence, a footstep, feel it all – look around you. All of this is for you. Take it and have gratitude. Give it and feel love.”

~Zooey Deschanel

(pause and think here)

I always prided myself on not being emotional. Emotions were bad, inconvenient, wrong, so I shut down and stopped having them. Well, I stopped expressing them, at least. I learned that I could safely express them when singing, dancing, or acting, but only when I was playing a character. If they weren’t my emotions, there wouldn’t be any backlash.

Pushing them down obviously served me well. When emotions started getting bigger than “My boyfriend and I just broke up after 6 months,” and “OMG I can’t believe I didn’t get 100% that test,” I had to find some way to deal with them. Enter starving, puking, exercising myself into the ground, etc. When your mind is occupied with the rituals and routines, you can’t think of anything else. You don’t have to feel what you should be feeling.

I remember fighting with one of my acting teachers in a private lesson. She told me that I had no emotional experience. I argued that I had a lot of emotional experience, just not expressing it. She saw no difference.

Nowadays, I’m realizing just how right she was. Sitting in therapy, having no answer besides “I don’t know” to how I’m feeling, I realize how emotionally shut down I’ve become. I completely disconnect from everything, especially the things I should be most upset by. WGT and I have been struggling to figure out how to get me connected. She points out everything I do physically when I disconnect: fidgeting, covering my face (particularly my mouth), the way I hold my mouth, the tone of voice I get . . . the list goes on and on.

Learning to feel is hard work. My brain is so accustomed to finding ways around intense things that I don’t have a clue how to move through them. It’s a whole lot of retraining my brain. It hurts, it’s scary, and I don’t like it at all. I think it’s something that I have to do, though. I can’t even begin to live in this world if I can’t be affected by anything in it.

In The Sound of Music, the Mother Abbess asks Maria, “What is it you can’t face?” (although some people think she asks a different question altogether . . . people with very dirty minds) I think the answer to that question is the key to everything. It’s a question we should be asking ourselves all the time. When you look in the mirror, is it your body you can’t come to terms with, or the person living inside? The only way to beat your demons is to face them. You run, they chase you. You’ll be running forever. Aren’t you tired yet?

1 Comment

Filed under Fighting Fear