To go.

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.

To go back or not?

I don't have anything nice to say about the college I went to. That's not to say I never will. But right now? This close to graduation and leaving? I don't. Not one nice thing, so please don't ask me to. 

Alot of this falls on me. The thing about having an eating disorder is you lose yourself in it. So slowly that you don't even realize it's happening. And then you start to get better and you come back to yourself. And it's only in the return that you realize you disappeared in the first place. 

I went through school as someone other than myself. However, I was left with enough sense (enough of myself) to ask for help. And that's where they failed me. Helpless were they in helping me. 

There are those out there that will say it was not the school's job. And perhaps they're right. But for a school who sends young artists out into a profession where distorted body images are placed on a pedestal--they should have information or professionals who can guide students and arm them with the ammunition of knowledge. That at least. 

The school referred me to a nutritionist who photocopied an article from Self magazine and sent me on my way. 

The four years of the drama division culminate in an epic work under the direction of a particular director. For our year we performed the second part of John Barton's translations of the Greeks known as: The Greeks, Part II: The Murders. The work consisted of the play Hecuba, Agamemnon, and Electra. I played Hecuba in the first play and then folded in as chorus in the following pieces. Despite my differences with the director I'm extremely proud of the work I did in Hecuba. Despite loathing every day of rehearsal, despite loathing the process, despite a director who seemed to have no confidence in me, I remained true to myself and allowed myself to be pushed in new and different directions.

Ned has never really been present with me on stage. It's the one place he can't touch. He's never been able to penetrate a character's surface and so I've been safe. 

However, each night as we entered Agamemnon and then Electra, Ned came along for the ride. Having no real character and no clue as to what story we we're telling (and that was not from lack of trying to figure it out on my end), Ned superceded all else. 

Dressed in skin-tight, striped pants and a fish skirt worn as a top, I wanted nothing more than to disappear. Perhaps to die. 

And that feeling that I had every night, for the short run of the play, was enough to make me never set foot on another stage so long as I live. 

The costume designer told me the director asked her to make me look nothing like myself. 

Doesn't sound that bad. We all want to transform. That's what the stage is for. But I knew--I knew the director thought he had me all figured out and he was going to topple my own image of myself. 

But my image of myself at that time, wasn't really my own--it was Ned's. If I had any sense of my own image, it was so precariously placed that the director's careless push sent me spinning. 

He thought he knew exactly who I was. Truth be told, he hadn't a clue, or care enough to find out. 

In two weeks time the third installment (The Greeks Part III) will go up.

I've seen the first. Acted in the second. And yet I'm afraid to go back. 

I haven't gone to school since I've graduated. I'm terrified. 

And yet I feel I must go and face my demons head on. I know it's not healthy to harbor all this anger. I know I have friends who will read this and disagree with every word I've written. 

But perhaps the only reason I am still angry is because I haven't embraced it fully. 

So if I return for the one night and allow myself to feel exactly how I feel...what will happen?

Dr. Bob will tell me I should go. So maybe I will. Time will tell.