This post is dedicated to the Elle Woods of my own understanding.
Imagine a day in the future when you’re free from your eating disorder:
I live in New York City, in an apartment-style dorm in Greenwich Village. I spend my days studying theatre, communications, art therapy, psychology, nutrition, Spanish, Italian, and Japanese, and I rhythm tap my heart out without the risk of stress fractures. I wake up Saturday morning and grab a dark roast – scratch that: if I’m free from my eating disorder, it’s a vanilla latte – from Starbucks and walk down to a bench in Washington Square Park.
I read play or the latest issue of American Theatre Magazine, maybe call Elle or my parents, and go meet my friends for lunch. They want to get pizza. I join in gleefully, enjoying a slice of margarita and maybe a slice of Italian sausage. Then we walk back to our dorm and get to collaborating, finishing the One-Act we’ve been working on all month and are preparing to perform for our student body this weekend.
When we finish, I got to the gym and go for a run, letting the endorphins flood me while music fills my ears, not worrying about my speed or how many calories I’ve burned, just enjoying myself, reflecting on my day, daydreaming, and connecting with my body.
Then I pop back over to my dorm and take a shower, purifying my hair with vanilla-scented conditioner. I put on some sweatpants, fuzzy socks, and my trust NYU sweatshirt; hook my phone up to my Bluetooth speaker and shuffle Regina Spektor; close my bedroom door, light a grapefruit-papaya scented candle, put on a cucumber face mask, set a 1 hour timer, and put my phone on Do Not Disturb.
I unveil my paints and a fresh canvas. For the next hour, it’s just me, colors, and the music. I freehand to Regina’s voice, allowing my creation to reveal how I’m feeling in the moment and accepting whatever it is. My phone chimes and I put my brush down. I wash my brushes, store my paints, and leave the canvas on my desk to dry.
I peel off my face mask, noticing and enjoying the refreshing sensation of cool air on my damp, clean face. I blow dry my hair, admiring my purple streak in the mirror. I slap on some maroon tights, a grey blouse, and short black overalls with high-heeled black boots, pile my hair on top of my head, twisting it into a bun held together by chopsticks, and adorn myself with an amethyst necklace and a gold cuff bracelet. I put in my tiny sparkling nose stud, and apply thick black eye liner and deep purple lipstick. Then I grab my phone and purse, and take the elevator downstairs.
I walk to the subway station two blocks down on the corner and zip over to Midtown to meet Elle at our favorite sushi place. She bitches about him while I validate her and we laugh our asses off about his dominatrix girlfriend, and I tell her about what that bitch Emily in my Italian class said yesterday, showing her the unflattering comic strip I made about her in revenge.
When we finish, we walk down to the Theatre District and wait outside stage doors for our favorite performers to come out, pretending to be audience members so that we can get pictures and autographs. Our success rate is 4 out of 5 stage doors; security catches us at the last one. Together we walk back to the nearest subway station and head back to my dorm. We take the elevator up to my apartment, greet my suite mates, and dip into my bedroom. We put on our pajamas, pop Grease onto my laptop, and paint each other’s nails.
When the movie ends, we get into my bed and have one of our heart to hearts. I open up to her about whatever struggle I’m having in the moment, like fears of being on my own post-graduation and uncertainty that I’m on the right path. She validates me and tells me how strong I am and my anxiety winds down. I tell her I love her. She says the same to me. “You’re my best friend,” I say. “You’re my best friend,” she says back. “I love you.” “I love you more.” We hug each other and say goodnight. I fall asleep, grateful that Elle is still in my life.
I wrote this on December 27, 2016: 2 years and 7 months ago, about. It was the last “Therapeutic Opportunity” I completed in treatment. I remember reading it aloud to my clinical director, who replied, “I see an advocacy piece in you.” I’d despised her until that moment. For the first time, I felt seen and heard. For the first time, I felt, she treated me like an adult.
I mourned the fact that it was my last week. Why couldn’t we have had this connection before? Nevertheless, I cherish those words and I cherish that moment, for she was right. I was and am an advocate, and that trait has manifested as this blog.
I’ve considered publishing this piece for quite some time, and I decided today is the day. And in case I wasn’t sure, I soon received a text that put my confidence over the edge. It was a text from Elle herself, and a significant one at that, mostly because we don’t talk often. Obviously, Elle’s real name is not Elle, but I have a feeling she knows who she is.
Elle was such an important player throughout my time in treatment – in addition to two others, whose names both begin with M – and while we may not stalk stage doors or paint each others’ nails, she is still incredibly important to me and will always hold a place in heart.
In terms of the content of the piece, I am happy to announce, that most of it came true. I may not have a nose ring, but I have had purple hair. I’ve even tried red and blue. I have lived in Greenwich village, in not one but two apartment-style dorms. I have not taken Spanish or Japanese, but I have taken a semester of Italian. I’ve taken courses in art therapy, as well as in mental health studies, and I have made gobs of student theatre. This was one of my earliest go’s:
[Want more, click Live Performance]
I’ve said yes to pizza on more than one occasion, and I’ve even found lifelong friends.
You see, the details aren’t important.
My hair color is not important.
My coffee order is not important.
My sense of self is what’s important.
What strikes me in that piece is freedom: that girl has total freedom and total confidence. The Bella I imagined has total self-love.
When I look at what I wanted then, and how I’ve gained it now, I’m reined of the power of visualization.
I’m reminded of a former post called “What Do You Want to See?”
I’m reminded of the power of imagination, and I’m inspired to imagine every day.
I think often of my future, always blessing it with love – the featured image of this post hands on my front door, I’ve found an anthem in the song linked below – however: the point of my power is in the present. It is in this moment that I find my real work.
The greatest investment I can make in myself is commuting deeply to the now. The best way to love my future self is to love the self I am now.
It is by loving myself today that I affirm love for myself tomorrow.
As far as I’m concerned, the future and presents are two manifestations of the same moment. As far as I’m concerned, the two are symbiotic; all that exists is Now. That said, I wish you all wonderful presents and strong foundations for your futures.
In closing, I would like to say that the opinions expressed here are entirely my own; take what you like and leave the rest. If this post spoke to you, share it! We can start a dialogue.