What do you do to pass the time? I write.
This post has a little bit of everything: ED, Mindfulness, Social Media, Gender, Colonization, and several repetitions of the phrase, “another story”…
It is April 29th, 2019.
I had something to say.
I forgot what it is.
It’ll come back, though.
It’s on the tip of my consciousness.
(Or as the villagers say, my “tongue.”)
For now, I’ll get current.
It’s Monday, April 29th (as I said), and I am newly 20.
2 days in, to be exact.
(But age and time are arbitrary).
I received a birthday GIF of Michelle from Full House saying “You da best!” So fun, and yet so sad. It tapped into a childhood memory.
I flashed back to a day in my elementary school art class, when a peer said “The Olsen twins are a mess. One of them is on drugs, and the other’s in the hospital with an eating disorder.”
This keeps happening.
I keep involuntarily recalling all the times in my life – the early years of my life – when I heard mention of eating disorders.
I suppose that’s due to my devotion to recovery.
Last week I went to 13 recovery meetings and this morning I read the textbook for (a certain recovery group I will not identify, so as not to speak for the program).
I’m truly embracing this part of my identity, this part of my present and past. To face it fearlessly & head-on is my way of growing up.
That’s what my 20th birthday celebrates.
I said this to a family member via text yesterday morning, mentioning that as a child I had no clue they would play a role in my recovery. (Actually, looking back, I did have a clue—there were signs foreshadowing—but that’s another story). They responded saying, “I remember when I held you and I felt my heart grow. I’m so happy to hear the strength in your words.”
That did it, alright. That moved me beyond words. I think I felt my own heart grow.
Anyway, in addition to being a Monday afternoon, I am writing from Think Coffee on Mercer. Today’s circumstances mirror those of my earlier entries. I am in the back again, at another new table: a round one. I was already here this morning. I sat in my favorite spot by the window, but at 1 o’clock my girlfriend met me and we left to have lunch. The man who assumed my spot when I left was still seated there when I returned, hence my new spot.
A new spot is an opportunity.
A new spot means a new perspective.
I’m working on a few “books” for loved ones right now, but as I told my therapist earlier, I’m afraid to turn them over because I’m afraid of crossing boundaries. We decided I should ask for consent first, a thought I’d already pondered.
The solution feels morally acceptable, though I’m slightly disappointed, because I wanted to surprise. I’m learning, however, the importance of sensitivity.
There’s a difference between surprising a person and hitting them with a bomb.
I have now asked my “muses” for consent.
I included this dilemma in the books.
It will be funny retroactively when they reach that portion.
I wonder how long it will take them to do so…Will they tear through their book in a night or pace it out? I hope, selfishly, that they read it sooner rather than later so we can connect & be on the same “page” – HAH!
But it’s not my business how they go about it. Once it’s in their hands, it’s theirs. I shall have my experience writing it, and they shall have theirs reading it. The value of the work still stands, even if they know it’s coming.
Last night, I had a birthday party with my favorite people. We played Scattergories & Cards Against Humanity while splitting a Mississippi Mud from Whole Foods (recovery victory) and laughing our asses off for 5 hours straight. I had a hangover from all the laughing; my throat took a toll – thought that’s only because I neglected proper breath support.
Verdict? Worth it.
I have just paused to move locations from Think Coffee to the Tisch building. I am TIRED. I went to be at 1 and woke up at 8:30 and have had 2 mugs of coffee. Not the best self-care on my part, but not the worst, either. Fortunately, though, my conscience is clean. Let me explain what I mean.
I left Think and moved to Tisch because I have a 3-hour dramatic writing class. The play I’m working on now is called –
Wait, I can’t tell you what it’s called.
Gone are the days of my premature sharing.
Today, I embrace anonymity.
I was supposed to have 10 new pages of dialogue, but I spent the week journaling about my characters instead.
My teacher just walked in and asked, “How’s the writing going?” and I said, “I’ll start,” turning my situation over to her immediately.
I offered to show her my handwritten notes, but she said, “You don’t need to prove it. I trust you.”
I’m in the clear! There’s that rigorous honesty we speak of in recovery.
Now we are going around the room and saying “Things get complicated in my story when _____.” I spoke third and said, “Things get complicated when ____ asks _____ about her mom.”
She said, “Ok. Good.” I feared she would press me for more. I have more, but that’s all I want to reveal at this moment. Again, anonymity.
My piece. My process.
Tomorrow, or at least another day this week, I want to buy a small journal to write in from the perspective of the characters. THEN I can really dive in to the dialogue.
I need to know who the characters are first.
I need to get them inside my body.
I need to let these people speak for themselves, rather than me speak for them.
We just finished hearing Anonymous Classmate 1’s new pages out loud. It was a 2-person scene, between a teen girl her mother. I volunteered to read the stage directions. My good friend, Anonymous Classmate 2, sitting directly to my right, read the teen. We shared her computer screen.
I participated actively in the feedback process.
Now we’re hearing pages by Anonymous Classmate 3. Anonymous Classmate 2 is reading again – she’s a hot commodity today!
I’m grateful to participate actively in class despite my lack of new pages. Also, for the record, writing while listening to the dialogue keeps me present and engaged. Putting pen on paper keeps me in my body and out of my head. This is why I journal my way through life.
As I’ve said before, say now, and will say again and again, writing is a spiritual practice. It is also an embodied practice, and, as I heard someone say in a recovery meeting, “the pathway to our divinity is through our humanity.”
I cannot transcend my body without inhabiting my body.
This merging of the spiritual and physical is akin to an orgasm.
I suppose you could call it a mind-gasm. An old professor once did.
I am bored.
I am tired.
I am writing bored and tired.
If I do not write while bored and tired, I run the risk of self-abandon.
Now is a prime opportunity to affirm and remind myself that I always nourish myself lovingly and intuitively and I am free from all disordered eating. I finished the 28-day cycle of writing it last week, but I must continue affirming it for increased assimilation. This is not a cram-and-forget operation. This ain’t no AP-Chem-Class.
This morning I received a text from a loved that said, “you’re the light of my life,” which filled my heart.
I received a text from another loved saying I show her what it means to be a strong woman.
Oh, how I could have cried.
Those words validated the way I choose to live my life.
It is now 3:46.
We end class at 6.
I, for one, want to skip ahead.
I see Future Bella, the Bella of 6 PM, doing a yin yoga practice in her hallway, followed by cooking an omelet. Then bed! She is so tired.
All she wants to do is rest, relax, and digest.
(“Rest & Digest” is the name of one of my favorite online yin practices).
Although I suppose I can do these things right now.
No need to rush home and make myself more stressed out.
I have before me a chance to do a 2-hour meditation.
From now until the bell rings, I vow to count my breaths. Here goes:
Okay, that’s enough to count in your presence. For the record, though, those ten breaths took 9 minutes.
It is 5 minutes to 4 now.
I feel more grounded, but the coffee is alive in my body.
I’ve got compulsive jitters to shake out.
My professor is eating a banana, like a monkey. She opened the banana because some description in a piece made her hungry. I do not recall the detail, but I did hear others react to it: must’ve been a mouthwatering image. It had to do with cooking on the beach in Haiti.
This banana reminds me of my roommate’s uncanny monkey impression, which she did in my room last night. She also did a “Bella” impression for the first time.
“Hello,” she said in a deep voice. “What are you grateful for today?”
I have many “modes of being,” including obsessive and crazy, and she could have chosen any one to imitate. I feel grateful (go figure) that she chose that one. She reflected my best, most authentic self back to me. The self that speaks in her whole, open voice. The self that speaks from the heart, from love.
The aroma of the banana reminds me of my breakfast this morning.
Look at that, I can write about breakfast.
I can acknowledge the fact that I eat breakfast. Hah!
That’s an E.D. win. No more “eating in private” or “pretending I don’t eat” or “dancing around” talk of meals and food.
Is admitting to eating breakfast weak or embarrassing?
No, in theory.
But in practice, it’s awkward.
Thus, this moment – this mention of breakfast – warrants some props.
The real recovery is in the little moments. It is in the way I talk about life.
It is 4:11. I can see the light.
I must do something with the caffeine inside me.
(yeah, I do that now).
Higher Power, please be present with me now, and please speak through me and my pen onto this page, sharing what is for the highest good of myself and of the reader.
I love the artist Ani DiFranco. Her song “Deferred Gratification” reminds me of the value of patience and enduring effort. I prefer hand-washing dishes, for instance, for the sensory experience of it, and it feels more rewarding to have clean dishes when I’ve transformed them myself.
I don’t believe in the gender binary, though I do identify as female.
[Okay, consciousness, where are you going?]
I believe in the gender spectrum.
Last spring (one year ago) I took a seminar called “Transgender Youth” which revitalized my paradigm. I not only learned about the beautiful array of gender identity, presentation, and expression, but also about what it is to be born intersex: that is, born with ambiguous genitalia, or with internal and external genitalia that do not “match” (an arbitrary, judgmental term).
Being intersex and being transgender are not the same, but they are also not mutually exclusive. Intersex people used to be referred to as “hermaphrodites,” but that term is derogatory.
Many intersex babies undergo medically unnecessary cosmetic procedures at their birth, in which parents and doctors arbitrarily “choose” their gender for them (as if that’s possible – gender is felt and understood internally by each individual. For a doctor or parent to “choose” the identity of a child is to exercise an illusion of control, and kid themselves. Fools).
Wait, that was rude. I shouldn’t judge the doctors.
This is serious stuff, though. These medical decisions can lead to tremendous confusion, dysphoria, and despair later in life. I recommend googling the organization “Inter-ACT,” an advocacy group for intersex individuals. There are some great TED talks on youtube, too.
We need an educational revolution in this country.
MORE than that – we need one on this PLANET!
That means listening to each other’s stories. And SHARING OUR OWN!!! We’ve got to show one another where the resources are!
AND, we need to interrogate our privilege.
I’m doing that right now.
WHEW, it is a lot.
Especially when grappling with my ancestral ties to colonization.
But that is another, longer, and complicated story.
A relative posted something funny on Facebook for my birthday.
She said, “Happy birthday, Bella! I was there when you were born. What I don’t understand is how you can be 20 and I can be 30!”
I haven’t answered yet, though.
I responded thoughtfully and deeply to all of my text messages – after transcribing them all in my journal – but only answered 3 posts (out of 30) on my Facebook wall.
The first I answered was from my dad’s high school (and presumably current?) best friend.
It struck a chord in my heart, so I replied.
In general, though, I detach from social media. I post on my blog, check my email, and dip. I enjoyed my mother’s tribute, though. She used a photo that my girlfriend took of me fully in my element, leg-outstretched. Here, see for yourself:
I’m wearing one of my favorite outfits, which includes my “Callie” tank top (the shirt I wore in O Negative).
Very fortunately, time has passed again. It is now 4:37 PM. My hand is CRAMPING. What else can I turn over?
Oh, I know:
I weighed myself yesterday.
I weighed myself yesterday and promptly informed my nutritionist because self-weighing is a dangerous ED behavior.
In my years of nutrition sessions, I was weighed backwards on the scale, because numbers tap into obsession. It’s a form of surrendering control. Only, you’re surrendering to another person, rather than to a higher power (another-other-story).
Now, however, I’ve reached a point in recovery where I can take in information with less reactivity, and I weighed myself for a specific reason: to make sure my weight is steady.
I don’t have a treatment team in New York. This is my choice, and it works for me right now, but it can lead to ambiguity. So, I weighed myself – purely for information.
I told my nutritionist I was afraid she’s be mad at me, because in my days-of-yore she would have.
She told me that’s old baggage I can afford to let go of.
She also told me there’s a difference between weighing with obsession and weighing with intention.
I weighed myself with intention, and it affirmed my healthy progress. Yay! I have a story about weighing myself with obsession during my “pass home” from rehab, which got me in prompt trouble upon my return…
…But I’ll save that for later.
I’ll save everything for later.
This entry has reached its end.
In closing, I would like to say that these opinions are entirely my own and have been written from compassion love. Take them, share them, or leave them alone. Love to everyone. -Bella.