Falling Off the Wagon in Eating Disorder Recovery

So when I started this blog I said this would be a place to come for real talk.

So here goes some real talk.

I’ve fallen off the wagon.

See, the thing about a food addiction, is you can’t just give it up cold turkey. You gotta eat. If you don’t eat, you’ll end up at the other end of the spectrum… Which would still be a cause for a blog about eating disorders in the performing industry.

So basically what I’m saying is, I have to do this crazy thing where I learn how to live my life without food controlling it.

Which I started to do this past May. Which has been so inspiring and enlightening and wonderful.

But what I didn’t realize was that Hawaii was not gonna just cure me in the snap of a finger. Like, it was really awesome to think I was gonna come here and drop thirty pounds and be really tan and always crave kale and come back to NYC in a skimpy shirt and have people hug me and tell me how amazing I look but actually, that’s not the reality I’m living right now. So I’m gonna write about it and actually explain what happens when you come to Hawaii in hopes of healing an eating disorder.

Step 1:

Come to Hawaii feeling really confident and curvy and sexy and happy with the accomplishments that took place in July leading up to touchdown in Hilo Airport.

Step 2:

Go through the breakfast buffet and praise Jesus there’s always a vegetable with breakfast along with a fruit bar. Think to yourself “OMFG I’m gonna lose so much weight without even trying.”

Step 3:

Go without trying the homemade ice cream on property for a good two weeks because you don’t even crave it and you haven’t been hungry between meal times.

Step 4:

Start feeling comfortable in the social environment and completely forget to listen to hunger signals when you’re woofing down fresh fish and orzo with basil pineapple sauce and lilikoi cake with ten people at dinner every night.

Step 5:

Realize that you don’t even always want dessert but that you’re also being a pussy and not trusting yourself enough to know that you can live without it and also not binge later so you take dessert every night anyways.

Step 6:

Start eating when you’re not hungry just because it’s mealtime and someone else controls your mealtime and then also eating ice cream when you are hungry between mealtime.

Step 7:

Finally see yourself naked in a full length mirror and not hate everything that you see. In fact, noticing how great your legs look and your waist looks. But still thinking it’s not good enough.

Step 8:

I’m not sure what happened but I forgot everything I learned. Also, I saw pictures of myself and was completely shocked that I look like that right now. I have the opposite version of body dysmorphia. I see myself as a size 4 in my head. Pictures prove otherwise.

Step 9:

Feel lost. Eat chocolate. Sneak ice cream. Go back for seconds. Crave cigarettes.

Step 10:

Admit that you’ve taken a step backwards and maybe, you have to start all over.

Step 11:

Cry. Breathe. Cry. Wipe your eyes and be thankful for the little things in life – like living in the jungle and never wearing makeup and not having to worry about racoon eyes when you cry. Laugh a little bit. Accept that you’re not done working on shit. Breathe again. Start over.

 

So the thing is here, that in the midst of all the mental and emotional work I’ve been doing – letting go, moving on, feeling pain, and living in the moment – I’ve also been trying to take on this huge fucking project of a) not binging, b) eating healthy food, and c) trying to tell the difference between craving chocolate because I’m a woman with PMS, or craving chocolate because I’m a binger.

As I was so kindly reminded today by my beautiful friend Rachel, maybe, just maybe, I can’t do it all.

I’ve always been that girl with the huge plans. Long ass to do lists. Amazing ideas as to how I’m gonna make it, how I’m gonna do it, and how amazing life will be once I get it all done.

And I have these big plans that seem so simple. You know, like getting up at 6am and going for a bike ride before going to the linai for breakfast at 7:30. And at breakfast just having some eggs and a banana instead of granola, potatoes, eggs, oatmeal, and 8 different kinds of tropical fruit. And then journaling or practicing ballet and then also hitting yoga and then also updating my blog and then also posting a new YouTube video so New York doesn’t forget about me and then also calling my mom and then also making my bed and then also writing a novel all before 9am.

It’s like I never even heard of that fucking mantra I’m always writing about. “Baby steps.” Yea, that one? It’s like I can sure write it down. But I don’t allow it to apply to me. I want it all NOW. I want to be fixed NOW. All on my own. No help. No books. No process.

No process.

Well, see, that’s the thing. What I learned this week is this:

Recovery is a process.

Rushing the process sounds like, super fun. Like, “I beat the system” kind of fun. Like, “what’s next” kind of fun.

But rushing, is not even remotely close to being helpful.

Recovery is a process.

And so in the midst of being very (virtually) bruised from (virtually) beating myself up every single day, I took a pen and wrote “recovery is a process” on my foot today. And I did the same thing last Sunday. And I don’t know how I feel about getting it actually tattooed on my body but it is literally a reminder that I need every day. And just in case you need it every day, I’m gonna say it again.

Recovery is a process.

And if you need to Sharpie it on your mirror, or post it on your dashboard, or engrave it on your iPhone case, know that you’re not alone in needing to hear it every day too. Whatever you’re recovering from – a divorce, an addiction, a career loss, emotional baggage, an eating disorder – just please remember, to stop beating yourself the fuck up.

Recovery is a process. And you are not alone. And life isn’t always peaches and cream, says my Grandma. But that’s okay because the beauty of a life with ups and downs is that you’re reminded you’re alive. And the ups will always feel more amazing once you’ve experienced the downs. The appreciation that comes with the highs and lows of living this life that isn’t always easy, is so fucking lovely.

So. I will continue to share with you the ups and downs of my process. And I accept that it’s okay that I don’t have a positive Pinterest message for you every week full of hopeful solutions and miracles and cheery kale recipes.

I just have a lot of love to put out there in the world and I know that if I keep putting it out there it’ll come back around. And the support of all the love will help me through this journey of mine. And hopefully, by next week, I’ll be writing to you with less (virtual) bruises from less (virtual) beating myself up and I can share yet another thing I’ve learned in this crazy, amazing, awesome, gorgeous journey we call life.

We are so lucky to be able to experience all this shit, man. So lucky. Continue to feel it and process it and enjoy the fact that although sometimes painful, it’s a beautiful thing to be able to feel, let go, and move on.

I’m totally rooting for you.

Also, this:

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Next week’s posting:

Silence

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An Emotional Letter to Every Man I Ever Dated

Dear…Boys,

All of you. From the gay one, to the rich one, to the very taken one, to the older one, to the younger one, to the douchebag, to the stoner, to the one who just couldn’t fall in love with me, to the chef, to the tap dancer, to the soccer player, to the reality tv cameraman…

Thank you.

I would not be where I am at this very moment, which is, quite literally, in paradise, if it weren’t for all of you.

If you had complimented me when I wanted you to, it would have taken me that much longer to figure out how deep my insecurity lies.

If you had held doors for me and carried my heavy bags around New York City for me like “a true gentleman would”, it would have taken me that much longer to figure out how independent I can be.

If you had told me you loved me, it would have taken me that much longer to fall apart. Which means it would have taken me that much longer to arrive here, in this moment right now, when I can tell you thank you.

Since I’ve arrived in Hawaii, which is where I’m writing you from by the way, I have done so much work.

The work I’m speaking of is not the type of work you do. It’s not numbers on a computer or running a restaurant, although I respect you for that and appreciate the nice dinners you bought me because of it.

The work I’ve been doing here is different. It’s emotional. It’s spiritual. It’s mental. It is feeling the pain that I have allowed each one of you to inflict on me, accepting that pain, and forgiving you.

I’ve sat on cliffs and thought through the time I found your porn addiction on my own laptop.

I’ve laid under a sky of stars that you can’t even fathom and thought through all the names you used to call me. The “crazy”. The “bitch”. The “mess”.

I’ve swam out in the ocean with fish you’ve only seen in storybooks and thought about the bender you decided to have – cocaine, Grey Goose, and all your boys – the night that you were supposed to help me pack my car up before my Christmas show contract.

I’ve thought through it. Felt the anger. Felt the hurt. Felt the memory. Felt that shit.

And let it go.

Of course, there are still things I haven’t conquered. For instance, why I allowed myself to be taken to a hotel room during your hockey tournament only to have to hide out for three days so no one knew you were cheating on your girlfriend. But that’s not really on you. That’s on me.

Why I allowed myself to be treated like an object – someone who you could dress up, pay for, and show off at company dinners – feeling like your own personal doll who you could bring along when you needed me and forget to call me when it was poker night. But that’s not really on you. That’s on me.

Why I allowed myself to believe that your big plans to go back to school, get a degree, put a ring on it, and move to New York City were real. Even though my gut told me it was never going to happen, I moved to another state to be with you anyways. But that’s not really on you. That’s on me.

I take responsibility for staying in situations that my gut told me to leave. My instincts have always been there. I chose to ignore them.

My friends saw it. My mother saw it. My boss saw it. But I stayed. I loved. I loved you hard.

What I’ve learned in the past six weeks is that although all of you are great comedy material, and you’re great topics of conversation when I go to unlimited mimosa brunches with the girls, it’s not all your fault that it all ended up the way it did.

I had control over most of the situations I was put in with you guys. And I stayed. I stayed and thought loving you would fix everything.

You see, I fucking love a good project. What can I fix? How can I help? Who can I save?

All of you were great fucking projects. I’ll help you through that addiction. I’ll save you from your girlfriend. I’ll warm your cold, money-hungry heart.

Projects are great distractions, aren’t they? Projects could help distract me from all the work I should have been doing, on myself.

I’m quite the project. I’m sure you all knew that once you jumped into bed with me and discovered my insecurities. I’m sure you found that out when I was too afraid to eat in front of you on a date but would binge on your Nutella when you went to work the next morning. I’m sure you knew all of that when I picked you apart, nagged at you, told you every little thing you did that was wrong.

You may not know this, but all that nagging? The picking? The criticizing? All that shit is a reflection of me. All that shit I didn’t like about you? That has something to do with shit in myself that I don’t like.

I don’t like my own procrastination, but I sure as hell don’t mind bitching about yours.

I don’t like my own addictions and habits, but I sure as hell don’t mind telling you how bad yours are.

Fuck, man.

It was never my responsibility to fix you. And I’m sorry that I expected you, in return, to fix me.

Throughout all this work I’ve been doing, I’ve been journaling. Brooke, my sister from another mother, has been buying me fucking journals for six years as gifts and I never used any of them. Funny how I’ve filled three of them just since I’ve been here.

I’ve never done what I’m about to do before. Shared my journaling. I mean it’s the secret stuff that comes right from the brain – raw and real. But I’m gonna let you see what I wrote about some of you in my journal. Ain’t no names. Ain’t no nicknames even. I just used pronouns.

This work that you will read below, is what is changing my life. Opening my heart. Letting light in.

This is what I’ve learned:

“He didn’t want to live his life loving himself so how could he love me? He is a direct reflection of me. He didn’t care enough about himself to love me too. That’s not enough love to go around. Basically it’s not that he didn’t want me. It’s like that thing that Emily always says when we’re working together. On planes, you gotta put the oxygen mask on yourself before you can help someone else. It’s the same in life man. It’s that he couldn’t figure out how to put on the oxygen mask first in order to move on to me. He was just like me. We took our energy from each other, instead of investing it in ourselves. We tried to complete each other instead of ourselves. We were each other’s addiction. Porn and food aside, we used each other to escape. I absolutely used him as an escape.”

“You couldn’t love me enough. And I deserve to be loved as much as I love myself. Which wasn’t much then. You could only love me as much as I loved myself. I couldn’t control when you loved me more or less. I couldn’t get compliments out of you. But that’s because I needed your validation so badly instead of stating to the universe that I was beautiful with or without you. The porn addiction would have been there with or without me. Binge eating would be there with or without you. Another person cannot save you from addiction. They can take you to rehab. They can offer an ear. But they cannot just heal an addiction because then THEY become the addiction. And when they peace out, leave, disappear, you’ll need to find something else to fill that void with until you admit that you’re using addiction to fill the void.”

“It’s not that he didn’t want me. He couldn’t give me what he didn’t already posess. There was barely enough love for him. He spread himself too thin by offering me any at all.”

“I am so thankful to have experienced the love I had with you. It was never about you not finding me sexy. You just had blurred vision as to what was right in front of you because you were too preoccupied trying to figure out why you weren’t happy. Why you weren’t living fully. I pray that you start living. I pray that you find self-love.” 

“I forgive you for being a direct reflection of me. I accept that you did not intentionally hurt me during our relationship. I believe that I am going to love myself. Only then will I attract more and more and more and more and more and more love to me – whether it be men, women, friends, strangers – all kinds of love. I will attract love. I will attract love. I deserve love. And so do you.”

“He really tried. And when he tried I didn’t believe him. When someone tells you you’re beautiful, believe it. When someone tries to love you, believe it. When someone offers you love, trust it. You might get hurt, but it’s better to trust than to skepticize. At least if you end up getting hurt, you felt something spectacular first.”

I still have work to do, boys. I’ve conquered the big ones – literally, no pun intended – the two and a half year relationship, the whole dating a man who didn’t know he was gay thing, also the 8 month relationship with a man who just did not…love me. Now I have to move on to the smaller stuff. The verbal abuse. The objectification. The general douchebaggery of dating in NYC.

But again, that’s for me to deal with. I allowed myself to be treated that way. I stayed. I listened. I allowed it.

So this letter is about pure forgiveness. Letting go. Accepting what has happened. Everyone thought this blog was gonna be about you guys. For years, I made my life about you guys. You were what I talked about at girl’s night out. You were what I used in musical theatre class when I had to sing to someone who hurt me. You were what I used as part of my incredible self-deprecating humor skills.

And you’ll always be there to talk about, sing to, and make fun of. But not in the same way.

What has happened will no longer define who I am. I accept that I am fucking awesome, but not fucking perfect, and there will be a man who comes along and sees that, and accepts that, and he can choose to stay and experience it, or he can choose to move on. Whatever he chooses to do, will not define me. It might hurt in the moment if he chooses to move on, but it will not define me anymore.

I deserve someone who accepts all of my shit, will allow me to work on it by myself while dating me, and doesn’t try to fix me. I deserve someone who will allow me to love him as hard as I love. I love people hard, man. I don’t hold back. I have a big heart and I wear it on my sleeve and one day a man is gonna come along and fucking love that about me.

I say one day. But today’s the day, actually. He’s here. He’s real. It’s all happening. I’ve met him. Which is a story for later.

But for today, let me say thank you, boys, for all of it. All the laughs, all the cries, all the shit.

Everything that has happened in the past ten years has gotten me to this point. I would never be able to appreciate the good if I hadn’t had the bad.

And if I didn’t take the time to let you all go, and forgive you for all the shit, I wouldn’t have any room in my heart to let someone new and amazing in.

I encourage you to do the exact same thing as I’ve been doing. Do the work dude. It pays off.

Much love to all of you. Seriously – even if I waited eight months for you to say “i love you” because the girl shouldn’t say it first and I never got to tell you how I felt about you – let me say it now.

I loved you. Some of you, I will always, always love. Always in my heart. No regrets. Thank you for the good times and the bad times. The laughs and the cries. And all the shit.

Sending you healing and love from the Big Island of Hawaii,

Amanda

aka Baby

aka Sugar

aka Mandy

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To my blog readers: I encourage you to journal. I encourage you to write letters to exes and never send them. I encourage you to write down random trains of thought. I encourage you to think through the pain of past relationships and feel it and have a good cry and try to see why it still makes you so angry. I encourage you to find the reflections of yourself in other people and notice why it bothers you so much. I encourage you to forgive. I encourage you to remember the good times and laugh and get goosebumps. I encourage you to let go. I encourage you to do exactly what I just did.

The sooner you take the time to let go of the past, the sooner you can truly feel, and love, in the present. And trust me when I say, the most amazing thing, that thing you have been waiting for your whole life, could show up at any moment, once you’ve done the work. Do the work. Let the shit go. Feel it. Forgive it. Let it go. And get ready for one hell of a ride.

The payoff, is beauty. Love. Respect. Growth. Sex. Support. Amazingness. Gorgeousness. Belly laughs. And of course, someone to lay underneath the stars with and kiss.

Next week’s posting:

A Sensible Recap


How I Faced My Fears for Forty Days and Changed My Life

Dude. Yesterday, I vacuumed up a cockroach bigger than your head.

With fucking gusto.

I hope my friend Rachel is reading this right now with her mouth wide open, as she remembers me calling her two summers ago from atop my bed, weeping, telling her how there was a huge roach in my 5th floor apartment and I trapped it with a glass but there was no physical way I could proceed from there because I was so terrified of bugs. I stood on top of my bed and called six friends that day to come help me, including my mother who lives in Pennsylvania, and finally resorted to calling the closest person to me at the moment – my super – who swore at me that this wasn’t his job as he came up and took it away for me.

I slept at my best friend’s apartment at Cornell for two weeks because I was so scared I would end up cuddling with a roach.

Roach-phobic.

The other day, I climbed up on top of a sink to dust the hanging light above the vanity in a bathroom here.

If you went to London with me my senior year of high school, your mouth might be agape right now as you remember me being too scared to even go to the second level of the most beautiful cathedral I’ve ever been in – St. Paul’s – because it was high and it was grated steps. So I stayed at the bottom and cried because I was too terrified of heights.

I have been scared of so much shit for so long.

Seriously. Scared and overwhelmed of the simplest things – renting a car, trying tempeh, dying my hair (gasp, what if I don’t look like my headshot?!), asking for what I want, back-ne, you name it.

When I started all this therapy for all this binging, one of the questions Geneen Roth asks in one of her books is, “what are you afraid of losing if you stop eating compulsively?”

I took a deep breath and closed my eyes and exhaled and then I wrote down, “my sense of humor.”

And that’s when I realized that fear runs everything.

Dude, fear runs EVERYTHING.

Like, everything though.

I realized that if I took care of my chocolate addiction and my binging and excessive drinking, I would also run out of “fat” jokes. No more, “if I smell a beer, I gain five pounds” . No more, “should we get an entire ice cream cake and eat it while we talk about that dance call we got cut from today?” Down to during tech for a show, no more “i’m gonna kill someone if we don’t find a jar of Nutella right now.”

My next fear came up like word vomit. “Not making it.” And then another one. “Never having a man propose to me.” WHAT?! All these years I’ve spent making fun of marriage?! Ding ding ding. Defense mechanism.

OH SHIT. Just being put in my place by my own brain.

And then the idea for this blog came along. And for the first time in my life, I didn’t think TWICE. I was never scared of putting all my dirty laundry out there for the world to see. Because I knew it could help. And I knew it was right. And I knew it was time.

The other thing I never thought twice about? Wasn’t scared about? Nervous about? Coming to Hawaii. I never, ever questioned it.

And I guess the universe was on my side. Because now I’m here just surrounded by things that scare me. Thanks universe. We’ve got gnarly spiders. Fucking gigantic cockroaches that fly. Like I can see their eyeballs, you guys. We’ve got one too many reasons to be in a bikini. There’s so many flavors of ice cream. And there’s new people that I had to meet, without the security of my self-deprecating humor.

And guess what. Despite all that, I’m doing okay. I’m doing so okay you guys.

Because when I finally sat down and had an honest conversation with my friends Eddie and Natalie – the most beautiful, awesome, compassionate couple in the world who share my loft with me – we talked about fear. They opened my eyes and I realized that fear has basically controlled my entire life up until this point.

We talked about how I am fucking scared of failure. Scared of food. Scared of calories. Scared of getting caught eating. Scared of networking. Scared of men not wanting me. Scared of taking my clothes off. Scared of not making it to Broadway. Scared of trying all the things I’ve always wanted to try.

I put words like “overwhelmed” and “mind-blowing” in the same category as “fear”. For instance, I know that it’s not scary for a typical person to plan a trip to Maui from the Big Island – the whole booking a flight, renting a car, finding a hotel – but it’s just so overwhelming to me and so I give up and just stay where I am. Same with learning with guitar. Same with trying yoga (before I arrived here.) I get easily overwhelmed and then I don’t go for it at all.

So there we are, right? Eddie on the laundry folding table. Natalie folding towels. Me sitting on top of a dryer. And I decided that I am a stronger bitch than fear thinks I am. Fuck fear.

I’m doing something that scares me every day.

I went to The Point the next day, the Hawaiian cliff I always tell you about where magical things happen and there are sea turtles, and I made a list of things that scare me.

Um. Some of it makes me giggle. Some of it doesn’t.

  • Wearing lipstick to dinner in a place where no one wears makeup.
  • Asking questions about yoga and meditation.
  • Oversleeping.
  • Riffing.
  • Going vegan.
  • Holding someone else’s baby.
  • Bringing Nutella into the house.
  • Something happening to my grandparents before I get home from Hawaii.
  • Falling in love with a woman.
  • My mother’s opinion of tattoos.
  • Fire.
  • Falling in love again.
  • Telling the truth.
  • Tofu.
  • Maxi dresses.

The list goes on and on but I will tell you that at the end of it, one of the things that spontaneously came at the end of the train of thought was “losing weight and being a sell out” in regards to this blog. Right after that I wrote “I need to go write right now.” And so I left The Point and got to my computer and completely blanked. I was afraid of addressing the list that I had just written down so I had a beer instead. See? Nobody’s perfect.

That night just happened to be open mic. I had nothing prepared and I was so against performing. I thought that people were expecting this high-class performance from me and I was like, no way, I did not come here for this. Plus, I didn’t feel like putting anything together.

And then my dear, dear friend Robert posted a tap video on Facebook. That day. I love you so much, Robert. And I remembered this memory of dancing with Gregory Hines when I was 12 and saying to my father later, “I want to be Gregory Hines when I grow up.”

I had been doing some tap improv since I got here, but always in the company of some guitars and some drums during a jam session.

No one had seen me tap improv. Like, including myself.

So I fucking took a deep breath, went to dinner, put lipstick on, and got up for 130 people completely unprepared.

In college, all they teach us is “be prepared, be prepared, be prepared.” I am terrified of going to any audition unprepared. Like terrified.

So I prepared nothing. On purpose. And I got up, and pulled this here out of my ass. Actually, let me be less crude for once. This right here, came directly from my heart and soul. And I guarantee when you hear these amazing people cheering for me as I pull this shit out of thin air that you will smile because it makes me smile and I am so blessed.

Two days later, I went stand-up paddleboarding. With all the algae in the bay. All the fish. All the unknowns in the sea. And scariest of all, I went in a fucking bikini.

There were totally straight men there. I mean look at the muscles on the instructor, people.

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Too bad. I got my ass up there and I fucking STAND-UP PADDLEBOARDED. I was terrifed that I wouldn’t be able to stand up and that I would be the weakest one who was at the end of the pack and I just wouldn’t be able to do it.

Um. I was second one in the pack to make it out there. And then, I did yoga on my paddleboard.

Most empowering day of my life. I am so much stronger than I think I am.

In between the big stuff, like open mic, stand-up paddleboarding, vacuuming roaches up like a champ, I’ve also branched off into the littler stuff that scares me. Talking to people of authority and going out of my way to get to know them. Instead of assuming they wouldn’t be interested in talking to just little old me, I sat at lunch with them instead.

I told a dude that I was hooking up with that I had an eating disorder as he was taking my clothes off. What? He told me his story. So I shared mine. I just put it out there, boldly and fearlessly. And then I was naked. And he could see the stretch marks. And the cellulite.

And then he did really, REALLY nice things to me.

I also had someone hand me their child during a day time community party and she didn’t cry. In fact, we danced together. And I didn’t cry out of fear either. All those years of teaching kids and thinking I couldn’t stand kids anymore after disciplining them in a dance studio for so long. All gone. This warmed my heart.

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And then there’s the most important accomplishment of all. Skipping dessert.

The big thing since being here is Hawaii is this fear that if I don’t eat whatever I want at mealtimes that I will go back to binging.

Like when there’s oatmeal raisin cookies for dessert, I take them anyways and eat it anyways even though I think that the most disappointing thing in life is when you take a cookie and the chocolate chips happen to be…raisins. LIKE WHY THOUGH.

But what I’m saying is, I eat the damn oatmeal raisin cookie anyway because I am so scared that if I “deprive” myself that I’ll binge later.

Basically what I’m saying is, I have given myself no credit for being strong whatsoever.

When you’re a binger, you will stop at nothing to get what you want, right?

You will leave social gatherings, you will bail on friends, you will steal food out of friend’s cabinets, you will eat your roommate’s Nutella, and you will literally kill anyone who gets in your way of you and your drug of choice – which is food.

But guess what? I skipped dessert. And I didn’t binge. At all. That night, or the day after, or the day after. I had half a bag of miniature Twix the other day at a campfire but I mean, hey, baby steps right?

So. What are you scared of?

Is it telling your mother to stop commenting on your Facebook? Is it to reach out for help? Is it to tell someone you love them? Is it to go to yoga? (Cuz I thought we took care of that one. Don’t make me come all the way home and slap you cross the head. Get your sexy booty to that damn class!) Is it to tell your roommate that she has to stop having loud sex?

Make a list. Make a list and let it flow. Let that shit flow and see what comes up. Like a long string of spontaneous thought. Write it down even if it seems silly. Let it happen and some of it might even make you laugh but that’ll be good. Laugh while you can.

Cuz I’m about to CHALLENGE you, honey. And you might not be laughing so much.

I challenge you to start conquering that list. Do it with me. Conquer your list with me. Seriously. Is it renting a car? Because we can try doing that one together. Is it to go biking through Central Park because there’s hills? Because I’ll hook you up with one of my friends and they’ll take you along with them for a ride and light a fire under your ass. What do you need? You tell me. We’re gonna make it happen.

I challenge you to make a list and start checking things off. Because if you do, you could end up with a beautiful orange head of hair like mine, since “going blonde” was one of your fears. And you might just be able to laugh at yourself for the box of hair dye not working the way it was supposed to and also feel really hot all at the same time.

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Make a list, check it twice, some of it may be naughty more than nice. But you’re gonna feel so fucking good when you start checking things off. Like climbing a mountain, one baby step at a time.

The other day, I was in my friend Mandi’s room keeping her company while she packed to go back to home. She wanted to show me a funny Thought Catalog article and at the very top, there was a blurb about Amanda Bynes. And it was obviously making fun of her. But underneath the blurb, in italics, it said, “baby steps, Amanda. Baby steps.”

I couldn’t even handle. My mantra, popping up in the most random places. That’s what’s up. That’s why this place is magic.

So as one last fear to conquer before I published this today, on this beautiful Sunday morning, after having a breakfast of rice, eggs, and Portuguese sausage with two men here who I love so dearly, I stepped on the scale.

I have refused to weigh myself since May because the number on the scale defined me for so long. It would seriously make or break my entire day. I was so scared of allowing that to happen again.

But after living on the Big Island, the island of “healing”, for over a month now,  I’ve learned I have a choice about what makes or breaks my entire day. And I can choose to not let a number on a scale affect me.

So I stepped up on there. 160. Seven pounds less than May. I had no idea, because I’ve been too busy hating my stomach and watching my thighs jiggle when I walk to yoga class. And is that number still too high for my liking? Absolutely. But it’s also not going to define anything about today. Or tomorrow. Or next week. Or the rest of my life.

It’s my choice whether that number makes or breaks me. It’s my choice whether fear runs my life or not.

And the choice is all yours as well. Do something that scares you every day. We have no idea how much it will change our perspective, and our self-love, and our entire lives, until we try.

I wish you a week full of strength, courage, and ballsy moves.

Peace.


Feeling Feelings and Recovering from Addiction

The other night, under the stars, after a boy here kissed me, he said to me that I make him so happy because I’m so alive. He said I’m so alive, and so many people in the world aren’t.

If he only knew me six months ago.

But he didn’t. He knows me now. And he’s right. I am so alive.

Now, that doesn’t mean life has been all sunshine and rainbows this month. I’m alive because I’m feeling shit. And feeling shit is a new concept.

When we have an addiction, it’s normally something that most of us turn to in order not to feel the sadness, the hurt, the anxiety, the depression, the void within us. We use our drug of choice – whether it be sex, food, alcohol, you name it – to fill the void. Whatever that void may be for us as individuals, we use our drug of choice so that we don’t have to feel it.

When we start recovering from addiction, we start to feel the sadness, the hurt, the anxiety, the depression. It’s just there, and we have to sit with it and breathe it in and…feel it. We can’t really run from it. Because we’re aware now of what we were using the food, the alcohol, the cigarettes, or the drugs to do. To fill the void. And like I said before, once we’re aware, we can never become unaware again.

So here I am, feeling all the ups and all the downs. As my fellow Pennsylvania-born-but-moved-to-New-York-to-chase-opportunity friend Matthew says, our highs are higher here and our lows are lower here and that is what makes us more alive.

So here in Hawaii, I’m more alive than I’ve ever been.

But dude, it takes a little while to get used to.

For instance, I have to look in the mirror every day and accept that I haven’t lost any weight here. It seems that my body is holding on to all that it can because it’s probably terrified that I’ll go back to starving it tomorrow. I have to look in the mirror and feel the disappointment, the disgust, the anger at myself for destroying my body for so many years. Can’t run from those feelings.

I have to see men at breakfast that look like ex-boyfriends and accept that they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. I have to talk to them and sit with them and feel the hurt, the sadness, the memories that I thought I had erased long ago. Can’t run from those feelings.

And most of all, I have to accept that I cannot go back to New York at my current weight and book work.

That’s the most profound realization I’ve had to date.

Like, one of those wet face, sobbing, can’t breathe, rocking back and forth on a Hawaiian cliff realizations.

And I can’t run from it. I have to sit with it and breathe it in and…feel it.

With the talents that I possess, and what I am known for with the directors I’ve worked with, and the theatres I’ve worked at, I need to look like a completely different person to continue on my own career path. The career path that I’ve worked so hard to create.

I mean, what a devastating reality to face.

All this time I’ve been taking life by the reigns and steering my way out of this horrible disorder that’s run my life for years. And I’m living life and I’m getting laid and I’m taking yoga and I’m making people laugh and I’m tap dancing under the stars next to a bonfire and I’m not thinking about my next meal all the time.

And that’s so great and so baller and I wish that for everyone.

But I’m also, still, not good enough for the career that I’ve worked so hard to chisel my way into.

What the fuck am I supposed to do?

You know, it’s great that “strong is the new skinny” and “healthy is more important than the scale” but that doesn’t apply to all of us.

I’m not saying that women my weight don’t make it in the performing arts. But for what I do – for the dancing and character work and the abilities that I possess – my current body is not appropriate.

So amidst all of this “let’s change the world and sharing is caring” stuff that I’ve been writing to you, let me just vent one second here.

Because after all, I started this blog to talk about what no one was talking about. Eating disorders in the entertainment world.

I have been starving myself for a purpose for years. Okay? I have been skipping dinner for four days in a row for years so that I can go into a dance call looking skinny and then move on to binging all fucking weekend afterwards.

I get so frustrated here when people tell me that “this might just be your natural body weight” and “at least you are so strong” and “a body is just an encasing for the soul” and blah blah blah blah blah blah……..

They’re totally right. They’re totally right. Except…

All I can think is, “Yea! That is true for you! And that’s great! But that doesn’t apply to me! And a lot of other people in my business!”

It seems my body is sitting at this 165 pound weight right now and its just fucking SITTING there.

I haven’t lost ANY weight since I’m here.

I’ve been eating organic food and minimal meat, I haven’t binged, I barely drink, and I either dance or do yoga or work my tail off cleaning shit every day and my clothes fit exactly the same. My stomach still jiggles when I walk. My thighs are still cellulite-central.

I’m probably the healthiest I’ve been in eight years.

But still. What the fuck.

My mom thinks that my body is sort of holding on to all the weight because it doesn’t know what I’m going to do to it next. I’ve treated it so badly for so long that I think it’s so mad at me. So, so mad at me.

She’s right, I’m sure.

BUT IT STILL SUCKS.

Like, it still sucks. It SUCKS.

And I don’t know what will happen next. Which is confusing. Which is overwhelming. Which is hard to explain. All feelings that I feel here every day.

I’ve spent hours of my life submitting witty emails with my headshot and resume to directors I’ve auditioned for multiple times in order to get appointments so that I know how much time I have to lose the weight I put on last week. I’ve set up agent meetings in advance – enough time to go carb-free four days in a row so that I am thin enough to wear a slinky dress at Actor’s Connection.

And I’ve been waiting for years to be skinny to live my life.

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Ohhhhhhkay. Wait for it. That right there, that’s the key. Waiting for years to be skinny to live my life.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Slow down. That there. That’s the ticket.

Yea, basically that’s the ticket. I’m actually NOT going to wait to be skinny to live my life anymore. Sorry.

Because you know what? I can’t go home to my city and audition like this and book the work that I do best. But I’m not in my city right now. And I’m not auditioning right now. And I have time to figure out what I will do if I don’t lose any weight before I return. And I have time, to live my LIFE here in Hawaii.

So amidst all the very low lows, I will continue to enjoy the extreme highs.

Kissing under the stars.

Swimming naked at the pool in broad daylight.

Making music with brilliant, bold, ballsy people.

Uncontrollable laughter when Matthew and I are thinking something snarky at the same time over our gluten-free lasagna.

Hearing someone else’s story that is more horrifying than mine and seeing the smile on their face as they talk about overcoming larger obstacles in life than you and I could ever dream of.

Pure magic. Pure joy. Pure happy.

I’m living here.

I’m not dyin’ over here. There’s just a lot of FEELINGS happening.

So basically, it’s just…all happening.

My friend Joel says that this place is a great place to “introduce you to all your shit.”

What he means by that is, all the things you thought you let go of years ago – all the ex-boyfriends you thought you were over, all the issues you thought you had completely wiped away – have really just been tucked in a secret drawer all this time. And when you come to the big island of Hawaii to find peace and to love yourself, you have to open the secret drawer and let all that shit out, in order to find the key to the love and the peace.

And yea, it totally sucks.

Because I no longer smoke cigarettes or binge-eat to hide those feelings. I no longer have any sort of addiction to fill the void. I have to feel.

I have to feel.

But what I’ve learned is, the beauty of life and being alive is that we get to feel all these things.

Some of them are SOOOOOO HARD.

Pain. Sorrow. Grief. Loneliness. Inadequacy. Frustration. Anger.

So much anger at men from my past. Anger at myself for lying to myself, and people, all these years.

But I also get to feel joy. And unstoppable laughter. And overwhelming love. And courage. And I don’t know what the feeling is called for when you feel like a bad-ass – but that feeling too. I get to feel that TOO!

Yea, I’m living in paradise. Yea, I’m fucking living…in paradise.

But like Joel says, paradise is the place where you will be reunited with your shit.

So now what?

I don’t know you guys.

I just don’t know.

Well, that’s a lie.

I know some things.

I’ve learned some things, while living here in paradise.

I know that even on the darkest day – on the deepest, saddest day when I talk about my third date with Stallion where he gave me an Italian lesson and I laughed so hard I spit beer on the bar and how in love with him I was and how not in love with me he was, when I am crying and my heart literally hurts – that I still feel better sitting and feeling that feeling, than the feeling I used to feel after binging.

Because the binging would put that feeling off, and numb it for a bit.

But I’d still eventually feel it. And so in addition to the deep, dark, sad feeling, I was also fat, sick, and disgusted with myself for eating an entire order of Cinnastix and half a jar of peanut butter with a sleeve of Ritz Crackers.

This whole blog post is about the feelings that I used binging to hide and cover up, that are coming up NOW. It’s kind of a miracle. It IS something to be thankful for! Ten years of therapy in one month. And counting. Now, in Hawaii, the feelings are just chillin’ with me, and the ocean, and the sea turtles, and the fresh pineapple. Just coming up to the surface like the dolphins coming up for air.

And I’m so happy to tell you that I sort of feel, in a way, that every time an old feeling surfaces, that I, too, am coming up for air.

I think that the other day, on Secret Secret beach, with my friend Matthew, with the waves crashing around us while we sat in a tide pool made completely by lava…that I finally let Stallion go.

If you know anything about me, you’ll be nodding with tears in your eyes as much as I am nodding with tears in my eyes as I type this.

Jeez, I have goosebumps. Legit goosebumps.

I think I have finally let go of that man who made me laugh so hard, who had the sexiest smile, and who wasn’t emotionally available to be in a realationship with someone who loves as hard as I do. I think I have accepted that our time together was wonderful and he came along at a dark time in my life and he brought light into it for 8 months and it ran it’s course and I would never be in Hawaii had he not broken my heart and given me so much time alone to binge and hit rock bottom and finally reach out for help and be diagnosed and start living again.

I have allowed myself to feel the heartbreak and really accept it for what it is, and let it go.

I have goosebumps just thinking about the way I’ve finally been able to think through and process the way the Peruvian chef I dated in 2008 and 2009 treated me like an object. You know how I did that? There’s a volunteer here who looks, and sounds, exactly like the chef – who we shall call…The Little One. And when this volunteer was assigned to train with me in Housekeeping, I couldn’t even look at him. I didn’t want to answer his questions because I didn’t want to hear his fucking voice. I wanted to slap him across the face and go home from work that day. And when I brought it up to my English friend Robyn later that night at dinner, she laughed at me and said “yea, that’s the best thing that can happen to you here.” She’s laughing because she knows. Apparently that happens a lot here. Exes popping up in the form of someone else and you have to just fuckin’ deal with it. And I guess I’m dealing. This dude, this dude here who looks like The Little One, is so fucking sweet and quiet and asks me how I am every day. And it took my boss saying to me, “Amanda, you still have to work with him. He’s not your ex-boyfriend. I had the same thing happen to me when I first got here. And he was put here for you to be able to accept that you aren’t over that situation and it’s time to face whatever demon is still living in there.”

And it sucks so badddddddddd.

But she’s right. Everyone’s right. I’m being re-introduced to my shit and I’m feeling it. And then, after I feel it so intensely and sit with it and accept it, not only am I not hungry, but I feel a little lighter.

Sure, it would be nice if the scale would fucking REFLECT THAT, every now and then… But regardless, baby steps.

Babbbbby fucking steps.

Look, I don’t know what will happen with my career. I actually do not know if my body will ever reflect all the physical activity and healthy food I’m eating.

But I guess the thing I’m learning to focus on is loving what I have regardless of how it looks. The rolls, the cellulite, the flab, the jiggles. My humor, my grace, my courage, my humility.

At least I’m alive.

The beautiful thing is, I’ve only been here for a month. My return to New York is months away, maybe longer, and when the day comes to return, I’ll have to take it in stride and re-evaluate what I can do in this tough, tough industry that I strangely still love so much even though it’s put me through highs and lows that can’t be explained by words.

Because there might be days where I walked out of a 42nd Street call knowing that I was too big to book the job. But there’s also days when I performed for an entire audience of volunteers, at this weight, here in Hawaii, who cheered me on while I tap dance improv’d for my life. And the joy that comes along with moments like that, are enough to hold me over until I figure out where I fit into this business while still continuing to live a healthy life not controlled by addiction and disorder.

So yea, I still cry, you guys. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Hawaii or you’re in Antarctica – when you have a realization about a broken heart or an overwhelming obstacle in the career you love, you’re still gonna be heartbroken and your’e still gonna cry.

But I’ve also learned that being alive is such a gift. And I would never want to go back to the way things were. “Cuz I’m a free bitch, baby”, and I wouldn’t trade in any of the pain, or the sad memories, or the profound yet sometimes devastating realizations, for the world. I would rather feel shit for the rest of my life than ever use anything to numb it again.

So the only lesson I can offer you this week, is that it’s okay. It’s okay to feel. It’s okay to really sit with it and breathe it in and…feel it.

And if you face the pain head on, and really feel it, instead of doing something to escape it, you’ll be the most alive you’ve ever been in all your years of living.