I mean this in the non-Britney Spears way.
Gather round, my children. I wanted to call you chillins but the red underline thingie to signify misspelling irritates me. Then I doubted whether or not it’s spelled ‘chillens’ and then it became a thing.
So, you are all my children. Soap opera joke.*
I present you with a blog that will most likely revolve around the creative process and the experience of being an Abby. But fear not, if you are not named Abby, you will probably still get something out of this.
But I can’t promise anything.
There will be a touch of activism, a dash of insight, a pinch of art, a handful of absurdity, and some scraps consisting of personal posts. And it’ll be pretty.
Sounds like a recipe for success, yes?
*In case this joke made you decide to never read this blog again, I must placate you: that’s not my A-game material. I’m new at the blogging thing, so I’ve got to ease into it. Also, to secure my “cool status”: I do not watch soap operas (or as I’ve heard them called, “my stories”).
Two nights ago, I had a little sit down with my selves. Yes, selves.
Environmentalist Abby, Actress Abby, European-and/or-Globe-trotting Abby, I-Want-to-Read-Every-Book-in-My-Bookcase Abby, Artist Abby, I-Want-to-Go-to-College Abby, French Learning Abby, Dance Class Abby, and Here and Now: Caribou-Cosmetology-Atlanta-New-Friendships-New-Territory Abby.
They are all me. And we needed a pow-wow.
One thing I have learned in eating disorder recovery: You can’t eat all your meals at once.
Sounds obvious, but it’s actually a pretty novel concept for me. Eating one meal at a time, savoring each bite, being present and full. And knowing that another meal will come.
There’s so much symbolism in the food relationship.
Crying, I told all of my selves that I loved them dearly, but couldn’t give them all attention right now. Not only that, I told them that I can’t be aware of them all of the time; it’s too heavy, too much pressure, and it’s crazy-making. All of the voices and should’s in my head have really been core source of pain in my life at the mo’, and it’s been hindering my growth. All of those contradicting voices can be really quite loud in my brain-parts. And every so often, I get burnt out on all the wanting, that I’m not doing as much living in the now as I’d like.
After seeing me exasperated and vulnerable, I think the other me’s are getting the point. It’s better for all of us, really. They won’t really get a turn to shine if I don’t learn how to live in the now, ya know?
I simply have got to allow myself to do what I think I can do now, and hope that the rest will fall into place. I may get a chance, and sincerely hope I do, to get to allow Environmentalist Abby to do what she really wants. Part of me hopes that eventually I’ll reconnect with Actress Abby on a deeper level, and discover things I couldn’t have without exploring other me’s.
Here comes the hard part: I can’t be certain. I may not get a chance to do some things in life that I may have dreamt I would.
But that’s the tight-rope of life: To live as if it will all work out, to be okay with the reality that we know so very little, while also remembering the importance of making the now a life that you can be okay with, and EVEN ENJOY (I give you permission to have fun), because it might be all you have.
I have spent a lot of time philosophizing, observing, and not making choices because I was so aware of how sacred life is, and I deeply cared how I chose to live said life. But you miss a whole lot more by not participating. Logic is good, but it is limiting. So, while I still deeply care, I also find that I am more fully alive when I’m, well, living. Ya dig?
It’s come to that freeing point where oddly enough, I can’t keep being concerned with all of it, even if I wanted to, because it doesn’t serve me. I’ve just got to put things into action, use the wisdom I’ve gained thus far.
Ultimately, I don’t want to be those me’s right now. I probably couldn’t even if I tried, because I have to learn certain lessons now that could enable me to fully embody those other aspects of me. And if I don’t allow myself to be who I am now, and commit to life here and now- I’ll never really become all those other selves anyway. I already tried the whole “I like to sprint before I crawl” thing, and ended up with a major facescrape.*
RECAP TIME: When I repeat what I’ve already said a few times, but in a different way!!!!!
I have to be present with the meal I’m eating right now. I have to be who I need to be now, and trust that intuition that I have that by committing to this phase, I’ll be paving the way to self-actualize, and party with all my selves. And that party would be pretty awesome. And I’m sure it would be a fundraising event, held in an eco friendly location, auctioning off art of some kind…in France (see what I did there? They don’t call me the connector for nothing! Actually, they don’t call me that at all!).
So, after a dramatic scene, I gnashed my teeth, pulled my hair, broke some plates, and swam in the Chattahoochee, I finally told some of my selves that I couldn’t see them for awhile.
So, we’re on a break.
It’s just me now. I’ve been working up to this for many months now, but on the cusp of cosmetology school…I think it was time for a mini-breakthrough.
PERSONAL GROWTH FTW!
Today, we did our first blow out in my cosmetology program. Our first time working with hair. I think I’m going to do well in school. In fact, I think I’m going to do well in life this year. I’m already in a good place with finding this new balance.
But why do I feel so…somber today?
Over the last week, I’ve made space for meeting my needs. My boundary-setting skills are better than ever: Every day at school, there is fat talk, body hate, calorie talk, comparisons based on appearance, and many people seem to live in their insecurities. People project their negativities and hurts everywhere.
Except for, strangely,
I’m no saint, but I make a conscious choice every day to watch my words and thoughts and think about what I’m putting out into the world. And I’m actually becoming the person I want to be.
So why do I feel down?
Well, first thing, I’m probably tired. Long days at school, worked this week, made time for exercise and chores and some personal time to read journal and meditate. Secondly, on the way home from work, I began to think about acting again. It baffled me.
Yesterday, I was alright. Today I think about acting; I’m suddenly undone. But I know why it has come up this way for me today-it’s because I’m doing well handling more responsibility, juggling my schedule, being authentic and present, and taking care of my well-being. That’s no small thang.
There’s this part of me that sees progress and says: YOU CAN GO BACK! YOU ARE SO GOOD. IT’S ALWAYS BEEN ACTING. AND SINCE YOU’VE WORKED SO HARD TO COME INTO YOUR OWN IN THOSE WAYS THAT MATTER, you can do this now. You can do it the right way.
There is a part of me that thinks this is the truth.
There is another part of me that knows what things got me to this happy functional point, and I don’t want to give them up. In fact, I want more time in this space, to solidify it. To accomplish something. To acquire this fully.
Just because you can do a handstand one day doesn’t mean you can do it every day (so said a wise friend of mine).
I think cosmetology is a good plan. I’ll enjoy it, and I’ll be good at it. If I ever choose to go back to acting professionally, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. I’ve made peace with the possibility of going down another path. I wouldn’t be at Aveda if I hadn’t.
But I did sign up three days ago for a series of classes at The Alliance Theater in February. One day a week. We’ll see what that brings.
I suppose my reality is this:
I take care of myself. I feel a lot. I think a lot. I’m mostly happy. I’m occasionally melancholy about some of the sacrifices I’ve made to get to the mostly happy part. And when I need to make another change, I will.
I just have to keep reminding myself that I’m doing the right thing. I’m getting better and learning more all the time. Getting healthier and more in touch with yourself and becoming a better daughter and sister and friend are all things that are good.
Whether or not I’ll live that dream to be an actor is unknown.
Of course, in some ways, I’ve lived that. Union membership. Worked professionally a number of times. Studied for four years under some great LA teachers and coaches. But what I want, in my dream, is different.
Why is it different, you ask?
Because in my dream, the me that I am now is the me that I want to have those experiences. The me that is present, alive, connected, magnetic and unique. That’s who I am today. And that’s who I want to have those experiences.
But I wasn’t this me then.
But that doesn’t stop me from wanting the dream. Especially when this me is a reality. My reality of a healthy and well-in-recovery Abby was just a dream a few years ago. And even further from that dream was the healthy and well-in-acting Abby.
But today, just one part of that is a dream.
It’s just hard to decipher what it means for me today.
So I continue. Learning, practicing, expanding. I’ll take acting and dance classes; I’ll learn a trade. I’ll keep living and keeping joy and authenticity in each moment. That will take me where I want to go.
Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.
And now that I’ve described what’s bothering me, I’m redirecting.
Going to read a book that I like, before putting myself to bed.
My dinner was delicious and colorful.
Focus on Happy.
(via pulmonaire)I want your lungs to stop working without me
Paint these feathers on my back.
Outstretch them in the engulfing music.
Plant my feet in the dirt; ground me in my breath.
Take a running start.
Today, I think of:
Water that melts in reverse; room temperature makes it freeze.
Sugar crystals that fall into coffee and create snowflake patterns in the mug.
Music that makes you see shapes and smell things in correlation with the sounds.
A book that goes blank when you need to go to sleep, so that you still get at least 7 hours.
Finger painting that really is just licking your finger and pressing it to paper, while any color you focus on is produced.
Replenishing grapes. You can never have too many grapes.
When I was early in my recovery, feeling my own feelings wasn’t easy-or even desirable. I had internalized a false message that my natural sensitivities made me weak, and therefore they were less worthy. I felt like who I was was not acceptable. Because of beliefs like these, my eating disorder had developed to an intensity that I was no longer receptive to the world like I had been before.
I had gotten to the point in my disorder that before I even could recognize a specific emotion, I had an urge to use my eating disorder behaviors. I didn’t think I was emotional anymore. Those ED urges replaced “excited,” “sad,” “longing,” “desire,” “comfort” and left me with only my eating disorder. The eating disorder felt preferable-it felt less painful. I was less of a mess, less sappy, less all over the place. Of course my life was a big mess in a whole different way, but: I was more numb. It felt easier.
I never intended to numb myself out to my entire life, however. Recognizing, feeling, and valuing your feelings is both a necessary step in recovery and a wonderful part of living. One thing I’ve learned to appreciate in recovery, that I would have never appreciated if I had never had an eating disorder is this:
You can’t feel the best feelings without allowing yourself to feel and tolerate the most painful and uncomfortable ones.
Yes, it’s true that the eating disorder behaviors cushion the intensity of the feelings you don’t want. But they also mute the ones you do. It strips you of your vitality and humanity. You can’t pick which ones you can experience fully. So you have to let go and let them all in. This seems scary to someone with an eating disorder. But the way to do it is to ease in: notice, allow, don’t judge. You’ll notice the more obvious feelings first, and the more practice you get, the finer ones will slip through. It becomes a game of sorts-“I don’t know what I’m feeling” turns into “I’m sleepy!” or “I’m hungry!” or “I’m hyper!” or “I’m lonely” or “I need to create something.” You get better at feeling.
And it’s awesome.
Yesterday, I woke up lonely. I felt a bit mopey and not interested in any of my usual solitary activities, like reading or drawing or goofing around on my piano. I felt sad. And I didn’t do anything to STOP that feeling. I allowed myself to feel sad. I called my brother, we talked about it, and then we joked around a bit. The feeling didn’t stop me from having a nice moment with him. Then, around mid afternoon, a friend called and invited me over. ELATED! was the next feeling I felt. I felt it just as much as I had felt lonely. I decided to get outside before I went over to her house to boost my mood, and move around a bit. I really FELT the sunshine and the brisk air, and I really FELT my body move as I got some movement in. When I drove to my friend’s house, I played music, and really FELT that music, and let it put me in a better mood. And when I arrived at my friend’s house, we had an awesome time just hanging out. I drove home that night feeling connected, loved, grateful, and warm.
I got all of those things in one day. And it was perfect.
I could have never had that day if I still used my eating disorder.
So, am I sensitive?
Do I feel a lot of things?
More so than other people?
Is that weakness?
It’s strength, because I know what I had to work through to be able to get here and accept and embrace this part of myself. Those feelings allow me to be in relationship and connect to life.
Not only is connectivity to your feelings possibly the biggest reason to recover, it’s one of the biggest and best reasons to be alive.
I have found myself here again.
I had lost my footing; I knew that much.
But I didn’t see that I had been falling.
I had been falling, hurdling toward the space between the cracks.
This space with the padded walls, the familiar gravity.
I’ve been here for longer than I’d thought.
It appears I’ve already moved in.
When did I do that?
Wasn’t I just walking in a forest? Wasn’t I in the sun?
Who was I with?
I can’t remember.
Perhaps I was dreaming.
Those things felt real. They seemed true.
But I open my eyes to these white walls, and I realize that I always come back here. I always wake up here. Do I live here? Is this my home?
Yes…yes. It must be.
A tray of food is pushed under my door. I am taken for a walk. I am given some tasks. Good job! I’m showing promise! Wonderful. I think I’m supposed to be glad. The others are looking at me as if I have something they’d like to take. They can have it, I suppose. I’m not sure if it’s what they think it is.
I come back to my room. I feel like I remember something else. I see a glimpse of a sparkling river. Of my feet on the bare ground. The wind touches my cheek, asking me to remember her. It comes and goes in a rush. I am dizzy.
I tell my nurse of these visions. She tells me that I have a wonderful imagination. She tells me that those dreams can only be had for those of us who are strong enough. The forest can’t be real for me-it is only real for “them”. She offers me some medicine and leaves me.
Hadn’t I walked there?
Of course I hadn’t. I’m believing a lie. Those lies hurt me; they hurt me from my space between the cracks. I’ve fallen.
Fallen into a space that has forever taken me underground. The purity of that light has been whitewashed by the muted walls. I am safe in these walls. I could never have that forest. I am not a Them. I am a cast-off.
I remember now. How silly of me to dream. How painful to dream. These walls never lie. They show me how it all really is. Even if I were to walk in those forests, I would end up back here in this room.
I’ve already proven that, haven’t I?
They push a tray of crayons and paint under my door. “You requested this, ma’am.”
I look at the tray. My hand reaches for a color, without my permission. I drift. I float. I leave…
I wake up.
I look around my white room.
I’ve painted a forest on these walls.
is a little tainted.
Tried on an old corset…
Shouldn’t have done that.
I dunno why I thought it would still fit; I didn’t even think about it not fitting.
But it didn’t and now I’m sad.
I don’t use my eating disorder anymore. This event doesn’t make me want to. This is awesome.
It just comes at a weird time. This week, I set the intention to begin working on my fitness. I’m trying to get healthier and more in shape using self-care methods. I’m not emotionally eating and I’m not drinking anymore and I’m getting my body moving regularly again. These are all good things. Things that I’d more or less let slide while focusing on healing the “bigger” parts of an eating disorder.
It’s a weird position to be in, though.
Actively working on positively changing your body while fully accepting it and being gentle with it, all with a history of a very serious eating disorder? It’s tough territory.
Usually, when something like this has happened in the past, it’s derailed me. But not this time. I’m not going to hate myself for any clothing that doesn’t fit me. My size does not define me. I’m still beautiful. I’m just bigger.
Would I like for that corset to fit again? Yep. But if that doesn’t happen through doing what I’m doing, then I’m not going to change anything else. I’m never going back to my eating disorder.
It’s odd when little things like this happen.
The little pangs of embarrassment that remind you that you’ve gotten bigger.
But being bigger reminds me that I’ve gotten better. That I’ve let go of my eating disorder and learned what intuitive eating means. First, I learned to stop purging. Much later, I learned how to stop binging. I learned to let go of rules and allow myself to explore and experiment with what works for me.
Did I need some time of having no rules? YES. It healed me so much. It helped me to trust myself to sometimes overeat. To make “mistakes.” To give myself time to heal food wounds. That will make sense to some of you. I needed to let my guard down and experiment with what my appetites are. And that led to me getting bigger.
I needed that.
But now, do I need to exercise some discipline that isn’t directed by my eating disorder?
Yes, but only because I want to. I want to feel better in my body and have more energy. I WANT to eat more nutritionally and exercise regularly. TO FEEL GOOD. To make me a more effective person and help me regulate my mood swings more easily.
So that’s what I’m doing. I’m actively eating better. I’m actively waking up in the morning and being more disciplined. It’s out of love. Not out of fear or worry or “supposed to.”
Do I like my body? Yes.
Do I want to treat it even better? Yes.
The last few years have been more about not having an eating disorder anymore rather than reaching optimal health.
Now, I can focus on approaching exercise and more nutrition-dense food from a new place. Do I want to slim down and shed some excess weight? I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t. Of course I do. It would make my career easier. But if I didn’t, it wouldn’t really be a big deal. Or a deal at all.
But this corset isn’t going to be the motivation. It isn’t going to be my “goal.”
This corset isn’t going to be the end result of a long journey with food. It doesn’t hold that much attachment for me.
It isn’t going to be the “after” or the “victory”, because my body doesn’t define me. A corset doesn’t define me.
The way I feel and live my life is the end result of this journey.
Whether I’ll ever wear that corset again or not.
Now we’re not going this week, but next week. But this will give me a chance to go to a thrift store and find something awesome that fits the body I have TODAY!
You can align with certain groups in certain ways. And “opposing” groups in other ways. It makes life easier. If you say, I’m LGBTQ-that’s a label. It can connect you to others. It can help you find like-minded folks. Raw-foodist. Vegetarian. Vegan. Christian. Buddhist. Pagan. Geek. Gamer. Intellectual. Atheist.
But, as soon as you say, “I’m ______!”, stereotypes can get in your way. And often, they lessen what you really mean.
The most intelligent question I have ever heard when it comes to labels is, “What does that mean to you?”
I’m okay with these things coexisting in me. I’m the person who agrees with Christopher Hitchens but listens to someone talking about plant energy and “gets” it. I tend to hear the same messages but in different ways, and people keep thinking they are saying opposing views, but they are more similar than different.
I’m okay with this dichotomy, as I said before. But it often seems that the world around me isn’t okay with this. HOW CAN YOU BE WITTY AND OBSERVANT AND GROUNDED, BUT HAVE SEVERAL BOOKS ON FEMINIST WICCA, ASTROLOGY, AND 2012?!?!??!? I even own goddess tarot cards-and use them! Isn’t that crazy woo-woo stuff that I shouldn’t pay any mind to?
Why shouldn’t I? If it interests me, and I like it, then there is no problem. If it’s all bullshit, then it’s no worse than me reading fantasy novels or science fiction, if I enjoy the ideas and other people who enjoy those ideas. I enjoy conspiracy theories, too. Sue me! :)
If I say “atheist!” people assume. On both sides of the equation. I know some arrogant assholes, who assume all religious or spiritual folk are idiots and righteously bully them and disrespect people. I get it, to a certain degree. Organized religion is the source of a lot of pain and problems in the world. I have a problem with organized religion, because of the one-size fits all prescription dogma holy war, we’re right, you’re wrong, stuff. But, atheists assume I’m just like them. That I want some kind of post-spiritual, science based world. Post-inforced-organized-religion world, sure! But, I’m not interested in shifting from one paradigm to another. There are things we don’t know. Human perspective is so limited. And that’s fucking comforting. Of course, there are others who assume I’m a heathen or doomed or have no sense of right and wrong. Or that I need to be saved. That I have no sense of connection to the cosmos or awe or respect for other people, creatures, etc. Silliness. All of it!
So I don’t label that part of my life. I don’t say atheist anymore. Because it’s not accurate, based on what the idea of that word means to society. But it’s true based on what it means to me. Unfortunately society hasn’t gotten to the point where respect is given to the person labeling themselves.
I know many Christians who have alternative ways of approaching their religion. I know many Christians who don’t. I can’t assume anything when a person says “Christian.” How do I know what it means to them? I knew a woman who didn’t believe in God, but practiced “Christianity” because she appreciated those teachings and followed them because she thought it was a great way to live. She helped me see some things and be more gentle with others.
Christianity doesn’t really vibe with me-but I can respect if it does for someone else. As long as that person respects me. But if that person doesn’t, then I don’t have the right to hate on all people who I assume to be like them. That’s no different than racism.
I understand the need to label. I am interested in nature and environmental ethics. I have called myself “environmentalist.” I call myself “feminist” because issues surrounding this label generally affect me emotionally, mentally, and physically. But I won’t even go into all the ways that the stereotypes of feminist and environmentalist are generally wrong. I’ll save that for another post.
Certainly, the stereotypes are true for SOME. But those are generally the extremists (who label the rest of the world-which gets them to the extreme in the first place)!!!
I could say, “I’m straight!” or “I’m gay!” But neither of those is true.
But if I said, “I’m bisexual!” That wouldn’t really be true, either. Mainly because the societal stereotype of bisexual would be inaccurate.
Can I not choose one? Do I hate men? Am I promiscuous? Do I have borderline personality disorder? Am I just doing it to be cool? Am I just saying that I am, but I’m not really? Am I one of those who’s just bisexual above the waist? Am I just a drunk bisexual? Am I just bisexual to make guys hot? Is it just sexual, but not romantic? I’m I unable to commit? Am I really a lesbian? If I date a man next, will people assume that I was lying? Will it negate how I identify? If I date a woman next, my old boyfriends could be all “she was really gay?!?
None of those things are true. It’s simple, really. I have the capacity to be romantically, physically, mentally, emotionally attracted to straight men or lesbian/bisexual women.
I can watch Cecile de France in a movie and be like: Whoa.
Then I can watch Milo Ventimiglia in a movie and be like: Whoa.
And whoever I had the most chemistry with would be who I’d go with.
But the world doesn’t seem cool with this.
I am, though.
My entire point is this:
Ask someone what a label means to them.
It’ll open your mind, and you’ll find more acceptance, within and without. And you might just make the world a more diverse, quirky, accepting and interesting place.
See Post #DMT #alternative #atheist #bisexual #consciousness #environmentalist #feminist #labels #musings #new age #religion #sexual orientation #spirituality #starseeds #stereotypes #tarot #my writing
You have to say: Here’s what I want in my life. Here’s where I think I’m going. Here’s what I’m willing to do. Here’s what I know I won’t sacrifice, and here’s what I’m not sure about.
Then, you do what you can do, when you can do it, where you can do it.
Then, the rest is up to opportunities, choices, and, well…surprises.
So, I’m open.
I’m working hard, trying to appreciate life now, and trying to incorporate what I love here and now, while keeping in mind what I believe my goal is.
But I know the tricky, wry thing that is life well enough by now to know this: unexpected twists and turns are to be expected.
I have goals. I have gray area. I have obstacles. I have ambition, hope, gratitude, and passion. My ultimate goal, no matter what form, is wholeness and fulfillment.
And the rest, I will discover as it goes.