NEDA. 

It’s NEDA week, which always makes me stop and reflect; on the ironies of the timing, being just a week after the day I started eating again; on where my life was and how far it’s come; on if all the things that make me sick now stem from the decision I made, slowly at first, but consciously, to stop eating and continued to make for years. 

We had rehearsal for Weiss Frauen on Friday. I had someone cover my baby class so I could attend since they were at the same time. We brushed up on the stuff we changed, and got the girls who were absent up to par, and got it looking rather decent, actually. Which is encouraging, given all the changes we’ve had here lately. 

Yesterday I taught my two baby classes before going to rehearsal. My four year olds do so well it makes my heart feel so good. They really focus and try hard and take in what I say, which I find incredible at such a young age. Then my three year olds still struggle to focus, but they didn’t cry which is quite a feat and we actually got started on recital. It blew my mind. I was going into that class bracing for having to deal with at least one crier, if not two, and it being especially harder since my assistant was downtown at rehearsal. But I get into class and no one cries and everyone focuses and the stars aligned and God looked down on me and said “I’ll give ya this one.” And we all sang hallelujah. Okay not really but it was a glorious moment. 

I went straight to the downtown studio for rehearsal, where they had been since 10am. We worked on hoffraulein at first, where our cover was in my spot since she has to dance it at least once, and when I got there she switched to the role of the other girl who was missing. I was the cover for swans last year, but dang, being cover for these roles has to be so difficult.  With everyone dropping and so many things changing, and these girls are handling it like a champ. 

We had a break for an hour, where they ran some of the principal roles and then the butterflies (so two of the girls that got called up to the hoffraulein role only got about 20 minutes. Like. Dang.) I wasn’t feeling too hot. I had eaten on the way to the studio, but only because I knew I should. I didn’t want to. At all. After teaching the last thing I had was an appetite. But I made myself do it anyway. When it came time for the hour break, my stomach was feeling pretty rough from eating and dancing so quickly, so I stayed behind when everyone else left and watched the other rehearsals. 

It was a nice moment of solice to be there, alone, watching people I love so dearly dance so beautifully. A quiet moment in my current world of chaos. 

Watching the butterflies rehearse was exciting. They have these wings and the effect is so lovely. And they’re all so very together and the choreography compliments the dance so well. Does that sentence make sense? I hope so. It has a lot of moments to maintain, which is pretty exhausting, but the girls do so well with it. It’s such a cool role. I hope they are taking it all in and realizing how cool it is to be cast what they are. 

I took a step back and tried to do the same. Instead of thinking of all the ways I’m struggling in the roles I’m in, I tried to take a step back and realize how lucky I am to be the roles I am, even if there’s moments of struggle. Even if I feel like I’m way behind everyone else. 

By the time 4:00 hit, I was getting that second wind right before a crash. It’s like my bodies last ditch effort to try and get me through what I’m doing before I fall apart. Hah. I figured I had until at least 6:00, but before 5:00 I was faded. Standing was hard, running and jumping was hard. Dancing was hard. I did what I could and tried to push through. When she was teaching the dwarves things, I sat in my spot. So beyond grateful that I could do what I needed to do to push through and not have to worry about our director thinking I’m just being lazy. Because she knows I feel bad sometimes and that my body can work against me. The more time went on, the more I was having that internal monologue of, “you can do it, just push through, it’s not much longer, you can do it.” Followed by the internal bargaining, “if you can just make it for 30 more minutes, see where you are, and the. If you can’t do it then you can say something. Try and stick it out. If you have new things to learn you’ll regret not being in your spot. It’ll be harder to pick up later.” I stuck it out, slowly realizing if I sat down again, it would take more energy than I had to stand back up, fighting the urge to throw up at any moment. 

The last fifteen minutes were too much. We were gonna run it from the beginning one more time. Six minutes. Just six minutes. But I couldn’t do it. I felt like I was gonna pass out or throw up or both at any moment, and even just walking and just doing arms was more than my body could handle. I said something, and sat it out. 

I felt absolutely pathetic. I know we’re tired but it was six minutes. How could I not handle six minutes? But I couldn’t. My mental clarity was okay, I was retaining the steps, but my body couldn’t keep up. I don’t know if I was dehydrated or hadn’t eaten enough or a mixture of the both or something else as well. If I had eaten any more than I did I would have gotten sick more than I did. I had already gotten sick shortly after getting there, but I didn’t want to get sick more than I already had. So I pushed through. I did what I could. I didn’t expect this to happen yesterday. I didn’t feel bad in the morning more than usual. It was frustrating. So I offered to film it in hopes of being less pathetic than I feel. 

They did theast runthrough and we were done. Everyone put on their clothes and shoes and left. And I sat there. Cause I wasn’t sure if I could drive like that. Not yet at least. I didn’t have the energy for it. One of the other girls who is fighting off some illness from hell waited a bit as well to try and be well enough to drive home. 

I still had an errand to run. And mom asked if I could pick up food for then. And I had no spoons left. (If you don’t understand that analogy, check out the Spoon Theory) I was trying to stay calm because all I wanted to do was lay down and not move. I got home, could hardly eat but tried to make myself anyway, and went to bed. I couldn’t fall asleep, though. Too much was happening. Too much to catch up on from being gone all day. Too many things to try and remember not to forget. 

And I laid there. And I thought about the days when I didn’t eat. I thought about how I felt when I tried to take part in the school dance club even though food hadn’t touched my lips in weeks. I thought about the figurative pain I felt in my heart. The emptiness. I thought about  how I would strive to fill some void that I couldn’t describe. To try and find some validation. To try and be enough. And no matter how hard I tried, it never was. 

I thought about how liberating that realization was, that no matter what I did, it was never enough, so why not just do things that are enough for me? Why try so hard to please all these people–even people who love me so dearly and mean well–that will never be pleased, that I’ll never be enough for? It’s pointless. When I can live my life for me and according to my convictions, which is all anyone can ever really hope to do with their life. 

I made myself go to sleep, even though I felt too exhausted to sleep. Hah. I woke up in the night with my hip or my knee or my ankle fall asleep and going numb, or shooting pain, or twitching, or other various things I’ve never noticed before. But I slept through the night, and woke up feeling like I slept, but that my body is still pretty angry at me. 

I can’t let myself think about tomorrow at any given time. Thinking of more than the day in front of me is too overwhelming. There’s so much happening and going on and so much I’m responsible for and I don’t feel I can show weakness in any of these areas. I don’t get that luxury. So I push through. And hope it’s enough to get through. And look forward to when this madness is over but at the same time don’t want it to end because then it’s over. I’ll never have it again. 

But I’m grateful. To be here. To be alive. To get to live a relatively “normal” life, even though I don’t feel much about my life is normal. But I do enjoy this life I’ve chosen for myself. I like where I am, even on days it’s exhausting. Even on days it’s hard. Even on days it’s too much. I could have died 10 years ago had I not made the seemingly simple decision to eat again, days away from hospitalization. It’s an interesting realization, how one decision could have changed everything. And how one decision did sort of change everything. But though I admit I’ve made mistakes, I don’t have regrets. Though I’ve had some really stupid experiences I’ve chosen, I know that finding my way through them has made me who I am. I’m not broken. I’m not lesser because I’ve made mistakes, I’m human. I’m navigating through this life and figuring out how to live it. And going through the struggles instead of staying in them makes all the difference. 

We have rehearsal today. I’m hopeful I can make it through, though I still feel prettt rough. I’m staying in bed as much as I can until I have to go. It’s only a few hours so it should be okay. Then I’ll think about dealing with prepping for tomorrow and the week ahead. 

If you’re struggling with an eating disorder in any way shape or form, please, please seek help. Please know that help is worth it. That you’re worth it. That size isnt the end all be all of your life. Please check out The NEDA website and reach out. There are people who love you and want to support you. The fight is worth it, I promise. 

Take care. 

I skipped class tonight. 

It made me sad. Usually when I skip, it comes with a sense of relief. Not that I don’t want to be there, I do, but because it takes the weight of the expectation off. 

This time, it was torn two ways. The weight was lifted, but then my heart was saddened at the fact that I didn’t get that hour to let my mind be free of the demands and pressures of everything going on in my life. Sure, there are classes when I can get overwhelmed and it feels weighty, but I don’t think today was that. 

It’s hard to know when you need to take care of yourself. When to step back and let yourself heal in the places you need rather than try to push through it and hope things get better. 

Because that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve been pushing through. Even when taking breaks here and there to try and help, I was still pushing through. Still grinning and bearing it. Still hoping that pushing through would bring the healing i needed doing this thing that I love so deeply. 

Ignoring the warning signs doesn’t bring healing. It leads to a public breakdown, embarrassment, sleepless nights, and lots of emotions all over the place. It leads to having farther to climb back up from this place you fell to. It leads to more vulnerability than you were hoping for. Even though I felt that I had no choice but to push through. That this is what is expected of me. That to slow down any more than I’ve already forced myself to would show weakness. It would tell people that I can’t do it. It would make these people feel like they were right in their opinions that I have spread myself to thin. I haven’t. I haven’t committed to anything more than I have done before, but for some reason my body isn’t keeping up this time. This is new to me. It’s not something I could have predicted. It’s something I hoped I could put off a little while longer. It’s something I’m trying to enjoy while I have it. 

So today, I came Home early, stayed in my house. I made a cup of my favorite tea in a new mug I love. I watched my friend I miss on her live video and then watched Covet Dance on their live video, seeing how they go through the process of picking their brand ambassadors, laughing and dreaming and feeling good about myself. I laid on the pallet I made on my floor in the middle of the storm last night to help calm my dog, then I re made my bed so my floor will be clear again. 

Take care. Whatever that means for you. Because if you don’t take the time to make sure that you’re okay, you’ll never be okay. If you don’t do it, no one will. Find the simple things that bring your soul peace and carve out time to enjoy them, even if it’s just for a moment. Give yourself time to breathe. Give yourself time to heal. Give yourself time to remember who you are, not who people tell you you are, not who people expect you to be. 

It’s not worth the risk of everything you’d lose if you don’t. 

Keep fighting. Keep pushing. Keep dreaming. Be patient with yourself. 

I’m doing a giveaway on my Instagram. To enter all you have to do is tag a friend in the post and tell them how they inspire you. My goal is to spread kindness. To say the words now that are in your heart before you don’t have the chance. To let people hear kind things that they may not know exist. To brighten people’s days with words. My hope is that it brings friends closer together and helps hearts begin to heal and beat stronger. 

Take care, my friends. Of those you love and of yourself. 

Snow White Program Pictures 

We’re getting to the point in rehearsals when we are starting to have Friday rehearsals as well as Saturday and Sunday. Since we have the company studio, and the ballet studio, we can, in theory, have two going at once. 

Last week we had hoffraulein downtown to help teach the new girls the first part that they’ve missed. I was late to the rehearsal since the class I teach ends at 7, which is when the rehearsal began. The cover is my assistant on Fridays, so I didn’t have her in class, but I wasn’t the only one missing, so she was a few different places. Our director also asked a few of the birds if they could stay and be place fillers to hopefully make it less confusing for the girls we were trying to teach as there are many patterns. In doing so, it was realized that somehow, things from one of the first rehearsal were done incorrectly, putting people in different spots. Thankfully, we fixed it, so hopefully now it should be correct. 

I think I’m on a good up tick of feeling better, though the fatigue is setting in. I was able to make it through the rehearsal and finally understood this part with chaines that I’ve been struggling with and my teacher friend has been helping me with. Hopefully it translates to pointe as we just did it in flat shoes last weekend. 

On Saturday, we had pictures. Our hair is to be in braided crowns for the entire show, so I woke up early and bribed my friend with coffee and breakfast tacos to braid my hair before the classes I teach. (Easy bribe 😂 she’s a great friend.) I ended up having a few new students in class, which made me get out a little late, and I was already late for my photo time since it was scheduled for the same time my last class ends and it takes about 20 minutes to get to the other studio in Saturday traffic. 

By that point, my hair was pretty covered in flyaways, but it was still good for pictures. Usually photo day seems like a long, drawn out thing, but this time it all felt like a rushed blur. With so much else going on with work and everything, a dear friend kept me hydrated and made sure I left after I was done so I could try and get other things done I needed to do. Bless her. 

As promised, here are a few pictures! 


The White costumes are for Weiss Frauen and the colored ones are for Hoffraulein. 

And, if you were a part of the Instagram live that night, here’s “Drake”


I have rehearsal again tonight after teaching, but it’s at the same studio, so that will be nice. I also have rehearsal tomorrow and Sunday free, which I’m super grateful for. 

I had my appointment with the rheumatologist yesterday. Overall, I really liked her. She confirmed that the gastrointestinal specialists i had seen are the worst in the city, but that they got at least something to go on. She was very knowledgeable and great at making sure I understood what was going on. 

We’re re running the blood work, as it’s possible the positive I got on the autoimmune test last time was a false positive. It was such a weak positive that it could be nothing. This is a pretty disheartening thing, but she’s not giving up on me. There’s clearly something wrong, it just looks like so many different things. 

She’s referring me to an orthopedic specialist, checking to see if my joint pain could be from early osteoarthritis. Which, if it is and we’re catching it this early, she’s very hopeful. 

I did note my hypermobility without me saying anything, and when she did I asked her about Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. She doesn’t think I have enough of the other symptoms for it to be that, but did say that the hypermobility could be part of the problems I’m having as well. 

She’s also going to send me for allergy testing, but I don’t know when that is going to happen. It’s going to be quite the process, and hopefully I can afford it all as my insurance is a co-op, so I pay as a cash client and office visits aren’t covered. I’m hopeful. I’m trying to stay optimistic. There are many gaps in support where I wish there wasn’t, but I am grateful for the friends I have that are here for me through all of this mess. 

Big Girl.

Tuesday on instagram, I posted this picture

 

It had a caption about to picture far right being from when I was in the thick of what that day represented. The top left was from when I had been eating again for two years. I remember seeing the picture and having to fight panic because it was clear how much weight I had gained. I didn’t like it. The bottom left is from Tuesday, when I’m 20lbs heavier than top left, but also so much healthier (by normal standards.) I actually have muscle mass and energy and am living life way more fully than ever before.

Tuesday marked the 10 year mark from when I turned to my friend and said, “This is dumb” and decided to start eating again. I thought it was casual. She cried. She knew what a big decision this was even if I didn’t.

Ten. Years.

That feels impossible.

Yesterday, I was in a sort of funk all throughout work. I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it through my typical array of Wednesday classes, let alone really “be there” enough to teach my babies. I hoped that being with them would help me with whatever this was.

Thankfully, about the last hour of work, it started to shift. The brain fog started to lighten. It was still there, but now getting through the rest of the day seemed feasible by far.

I walk into my class and see one of my assistants sitting with one of the dancers who was pressed up against the wall, knees to her chest, bawling. I stopped in my tracks and sat next to her and asked her what was wrong, but she couldn’t seem to find words. I asked if she wanted to stay, and she nodded her head yes. Her mom came in and asked her the same thing, in a gentle, motherly way. Spanish is her first language, so they communicated that way. I asked if everything was okay and her mom said, “I don’t speak English good.” and I said, “That’s okay, do what you can.” and she said,

“She thinks she’s too big to do ballet.”

I looked at her and said, “No. Don’t you even believe that for a second.” I told her how she deserves to be here just as much as anyone else. That she is extremely talented and is one of my hardest workers and it shows. I asked her if she liked ballet. She nodded. Then I told her that’s all that mattered. Her mom gave her a hug and a kiss, she dried her eyes, and we joined in on the game my assistants so ingeniously had the other kids playing while we were working this out. (Bless my assistants.)

I’m so glad she decided to stay.

Halfway through class, we were running recital. Before we ran it one last time, she comes up to me and says she doesn’t want to do it. I asked her if it was still hard, and she nodded. I said, “Do you wanna know a secret?” she nodded. I said,

“I’m the biggest kid in my class too.”

She looked at me.

I said, “Do you think I’m a good dancer?” She nodded. I said, “Well I think you’re a good dancer. And all that matters is what’s in here.” and I pointed to her heart. I said, “If you love to dance, then you should dance. Size doesn’t matter.”

We ran the recital one last time, then we took the last bit of class to have fun. My hope was that we would reinforce why we love to dance so much and to feel comfortable being there.

Sometimes when the girls are being catty, I’ll have them go through the line and say what they like about each other.

This time, I had them have two turns. The first, I had them go through and say what they liked about my assistants.

The second time, I had them go through and say what they liked about my student.

And wouldn’t you know, they were far more descriptive and specific when it came to saying what they liked about their peer.

“I like that you’re honest and a good listener.”

“I like the way you dance.”

“I like your glasses, and the way you point your toes.”

“I like that you’re a hard worker and a beautiful dancer.”

My assistants chimed in as well, which was wonderful, telling the student that she was a beautiful dancer and a valued member of our class.

Driving home, I couldn’t help but realize the irony of the timing. The day after my 10 year mark.

When I was eleven, I was told I was too fat to dance, so I dropped out. And it haunted me. I finally took the plunge to start back up again at twenty-three and never looked back. I wanted it more than I was afraid of it.

And here I had a six-year-old, already facing these complex emotions about something out of her control that doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. She’s a healthy girl, living an active lifestyle. Everything else comes out in the wash.

I realized the unique position I found myself in. To be able to use myself as an example, not just have to try and scrounge for someone I could point to and say, “they did it, so can you.” I’d be lying if I said I never felt a fear of rejection in being a dance teacher. My brain tells me that parents judge me for my size, or think I’m lesser because I “don’t look the part.” I think it’s why I’m harder on myself when my health holds me back. I already feel like I have so much to prove. But my sweet girl reminded me what this is really all about. Finding fulfillment doing what we love, no matter what the world tries to tell us.

For that, I am eternally grateful.

Welp. 

I ended up skipping Mondays class last week. I didn’t want to, but I get absolutely terrible. It was all I could do to get through the work day. My plan was to take it easy in the week so I could be up and running for Saturday’s rehearsal. 

I ended up in bed early every day I didn’t have to drive into town, which is pretty good considering. But it’s immensely frustrating, because I should be able to handle all of this and more. This shouldn’t be as hard as it is. I shouldn’t be this tired. 

Friday I was able to work with a teacher friend of mine to try and get me up to speed on the hoffraulein bits that Im struggling with. There is more that is still a struggle that we didn’t get to work on, but the parts we did were a huge help. The also helped with the Weiss Frauen role in the parts I struggle with there. I know I have a long way to go yet, and I’m running out of time to get there, but I’m trying to push myself where I can, and force myself to rest when I have to. It’s hard. 

I’ve also found myself to be more emotionally sensitive and vulnerable than I usually am. I suppose this is due to the fact that I feel sick all the time, and trying to keep up with being normal while feeling this sick does a number on emotions. Especially when it’s not something that has rhyme or reason to it. I’m harder on myself because I don’t have the control I wish I did. I’ve fought a greater part of my life to try and get a handle on my need to control things, since nothing really is in our control, really, but the past few weeks have proven difficult. Thankfully, I do have wonderful people in my life, and one of them happens to be a teacher friend that is good at knowing when to be patient with me and when to push me. It’s a special and rare balance to achieve, and she nails it. I couldn’t be more grateful for her patience and willingness to help me. 

Saturday’s rehearsal began at 10, so I had to have someone cover my baby classes. If I had taught them, I would have missed almost all of the first rehearsal. It was probably a good thing, too, because by noon I was getting sick. Thankfully it hit at a moment where our director was working on a section I wasn’t directly involved in, so I was able to whisper to a friend where I was going and rush out of the studio in time. I weighed my options at that point, and when we were given a few minutes break, I opted to take off my shoes and approached my director about it. Thankfully, she is understanding, and I did what I could to keep up still. It seemed any time I engaged my core, I was out for the count. 

We still had the second rehearsal for hoffraulein, which fed right into itself from the Weiss Frauen rehearsal, so I didn’t have time to eat anything. Most of the girls were smart and brought stuff to help them power through, but my options are rather limited. Judging by how I was feeling, I opted not to push it, knowing eating would make me get sick, though I knew. It eating would lead me to get sick later. But later I would be at home, not at a rehearsal. 

I felt bad enough to actually ask to sit out, which I was going to be able to, but we were missing too many people and learning a new part anyway. So I stood in my spot and marked it, while doing arms. Even that was difficult, which helped me understand in myself that this isn’t something I’m just “being dramatic” about, and also made me even more grateful that my appointment with the specialist is so soon. 

I made it through and took it easy in Sunday, since I didn’t have rehearsal. I still haven’t been doing too hot, but I’m out of options on what else to do about it. I try not to dwell on it because it is out of my control, but still try to do everything I can to keep up while not pushing too hard. 

Yesterday in class, I felt myself getting really overwhelmed. It got so bad that I found myself feeling a sense of anxiety in class I haven’t felt since I first began. I wanted to run, and I was so frustrated with myself that I couldn’t get a step that seemed relatively simple. It’s one I should be able to get, but my brain wasn’t grasping it, and my body wasn’t doing it, and the teaching was telling me not to let my face show if I messed up. But I didn’t have anything in me to fake confidence with. I was drained; of people, of pretending, of faking it til I made it. This isn’t me. This isn’t like me. But I couldn’t do it. And I hated how I felt and how I was acting. But I was out of options. I left the studio near tears, and bought an epic stuffed bear to make me feel better because I’m also a 5 year old. 

I’m still trying to work through everything. Trying to navigate life and everything required of me while also trying to not get sick every other moment. I’m sleeping as much as I can and really cutting back on commitments since I can’t keep up with what is required of me as it is. I’m hoping something will shift soon and things will be better. 
On a lighter note, I’m doing an Instagram live on Saturday, February 11, at 8pm CST 

If you don’t follow me, you can find my Instagram at anothernightatthebarreofficial I’ll try and link it later when my phone isn’t dying. 

We have pictures on Saturday, so I’ll have some good updates after that!