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.
Started ballet late October of 2011 at the age of 23.
Began pointe training late August of 2013.