I did it. I went back. Monday night to be exact.
I donned red lipstick and my Frye motorbike boots--things that would make me appear confident even if I felt less than so.
I smoked a cigarette on the walk to the subway. I never smoke. Not ever. Angela gave it to me. She felt bad doing it. Corrupting me, she feared. But I had asked, and in my state I was not to be denied.
I downed two glasses of wine at the reception preceding the start of the show.
Truth be told, I didn't need the wine. And I didn't need the cigarette. Heck, I didn't even need the lipstick or boots. It was fine. Lovely, even. Joyous.
Fear is funny that way. When you have your back turned to it, it's tremendous in size, casting an engulfing shadow that keeps you in a perpetual darkness. And then when you get just enough courage to turn around and face it, it vanishes altogether leaving you to wonder what you were afraid of in the first place.
When I posted about the end of Ned (how it was getting worse before it got better) I think I scared my mom a bit (the getting worse part). So she sent me info about an upcoming support group that would have one initial two hour session and then an optional addition of three follow up meetings. I had been once before to the initial meeting. I went with my mom (that series had a friends and family focus) last March. I remember I cried. I agreed to try again. Why not? The meeting was much the same this go round, but I was different. I didn't want to cry. I wanted to talk. To say--to shout--I feel myself getting better, it's ending. But I focused on listening. Listening to the other stories. Unique and hauntingly familiar. I saw myself--my actions--reflected in their words. I opted not to continue on. I'm so close to the brink that I fear being pulled back in by others who were at very different stages. On the way out, one girl said to me "My biggest fear in coming today was that I would be the fattest one here." I know that thought, that sentiment. And so I chose not to hang around it. Not now. Dr. Bob says that's the biggest argument against eating disorder therapy groups is that they teach you how to have a good eating disorder, all the while telling you not to.
However, I was struck most by one girl there. She spoke of her anger towards those around her. She was angry at those who said they understood--how they knew exactly what she was going through--they felt fat today too. No, she would tell them, you have no idea. How many times I felt that way. How many times I reached out, only to be told by those around me that they had the same issue. But they didn't. Not really. And so I got angry. I assumed they were making it about themselves when what I needed, for just a moment, was it to be about me. How many times my mom would tell me, they're just trying to relate--empathize in their own way. This would infuriate me. Why are you standing up for them? But as I listened to this girl speak of her frustration, I felt the anger literally radiating out of her. And I thought, huh, it's not that important--let it go. And that moment became the first step in the release of my anger--the realization that anger is an inward action. It affects you far worse than anyone (or anything) else. No, an eating disorder is not the same thing as an eating problem (though the media uses the two interchangeably) and those who have not suffered from an eating disorder will most likely never fully comprehend it. But they don't need to. And I can't fault them for that.
I thought my release of anger would end there. For the time being, anyway. Well...go figure. When I returned to school I didn't feel a lick of it (anger that is). And when I said I had nothing nice to say about the school...that's just not true. I was reminded last night of the best Juilliard has to offer. The people. And in going back I felt myself returning home. If I had to do it all over again, I still wouldn't. I still would make different choices. I would change it all. Yet I don't regret any of it. Does that make sense? Doesn't seem like those two sentiments could co-exist. But they do.
One of the school administrators approached me and confessed that he had happened upon my blog. Oh, shoot, I thought. He asked if I might sit down and talk to him because he thinks my experience might help others. Of course, what a complement. But as flattered as I was, when I returned home I quickly popped open my Mac to review my words and assess the damage.
What I put down--what I published (if you will) here--that is exactly what I was feeling at that moment in time. But after last night, after allowing myself to feel something other than anger and fear--I re-read those words and thought, I have been just as close-minded as I accused that director of being. So he wasn't that nice to me...okay. I don't really know why that was--maybe he just didn't care for me--thing is, it's not my job to figure it out. Let it go. He's very good, the director we had. And the show last night was astonishing. Clear and striking and infused with hope (and I usually loathe Greek drama for the simple fact that I can't find the hope in it to save my life). This is my way of saying, I don't know what drives another person any more than they know what drives me. I have asked others to forgive me my faults all the while holding them to an impossible standard. Perhaps it's time I begin to forgive those around me as well as myself.
I do have nice things to say. About the school. About my Greeks experience. About the director. Last night didn't make my Juilliard experience any easier, but it sure as hell put it in perspective.
P.S. I'm on day ten of life without Ned.