The third piece in this work is about the very LOUD silence of eating disorders.
I have always found myself being too much. Even as a child I was too much. I wanted too much. I felt too much. I needed too much. Everything was so intense.
In the early stages of my disorder (particularly anorexia) I think part of what fueled me was a desire to restrain myself, to learn some restraint. I cared too much, constantly. I wanted to careless and if I could just get a grip and learn some restraint I could learn to be more distant too, less involved, less intense. I wanted to make myself small, not just physically but emotionally.
Polished, prepared, perfect instead of loud, chaotic, emotional, impulsive. As I grew thinner, the voice in my head got louder and louder. I, on the other hand, grew quieter. This is a concept I explore in one of the films, how the self, yourself sort of splits in two. There is you and then there is your eating disorder which has now taken on a life of its own.
The eating disorder voice is constant and unrelenting pushing you toward this vanishing point in your head. You constantly let that voice down. Everyday it makes you promises of bringing you comfort, peace, perfection, the you that you desire to be. Everyday you find yourself failing that that voice, then your inner voice takes over screaming at you for your shortcomings, your inabilities to do anything right, how you would lose your head if it weren't attached to your shoulder.
You are worthless.
You are a failure.
You are impossible.
You are incapable.
You are weak.
This dialogue within yourself isn't immediate. It comes on slowly and grows louder, like a giant crescendo stretching on over the course of years until it drowns out everything else around you. Your very existence feels like nails on a chalkboard. You are clawing constantly to escape your own skin. There is you, this cerebral entity and the body that you drag around holds you back. It is your one true foe. Your one true obstacle.
The eating disorder shouts at you, barking orders and judgments. Internally you are screaming, trying to escape, not from the eating disorder... you need it too much... you are screaming, trying to escape from yourself.
Its a maddening time for the person with the eating disorder. It is also frustrating and maddening for the loved ones. At this point the secret is basically out. You're dying. People say underhanded little things to hint at concern. They shout. They corner you. They try relentlessly to prove that you are lying. (They are right. You are the biggest liar). There are so many voices. The eating disorder. Your inner voice. Their voices. There is never any quiet. Everything is supposed to be getting better. Everything is not better.
All these voice drown you out. You grow cold, silent, you have things to say, you want to advocate for yourself, you want to speak but you can't. The voices take over, both internal and external and you are a prisioner in your own body.
FAST FORWARD A DECADE:
I am not active with my eating disorder. I have a healthy if not slightly self-indulgent relationship with food. The voice though is still there, not loud, not barking orders.... its like a crazy person walking around constantly muttering to itself. Its annoying, like a gnat, and easy to swat away. But I still need the quiet to sift through it all. Sometimes the noise of habitual self-doubt and self-loathing cloud reality. It makes it difficult for honest self-assessment. It makes it difficult to interpret my relationships with people, and I often take things far too personally. If something is wrong I immediately blame myself, what did I do to, what shortcoming of mine lead to this? I catch myself in the old habit of silence. I sometimes lash out explosively, shouting, being too loud, too intense, too much.. but this is because I spent too long not saying anything.
This project is the total opposite of the silence. We need to discuss eating disorders. We need to discuss not just the effects of the disorder on the family, or the body, or the behaviors. Its not about the food. We need to shout it from the rooftops. ITS NOT ABOUT THE FOOD. Regardless of what you do... if it is restricting, binging, purging, stashing, whatever... IT IS NOT ABOUT THE FOOD. It is so much more and we need to find a way to discuss eating disorders in a way that is real, and productive and I don't think that comes from sensational stories or discussing specific behaviors in order to shock people.
If you're around at 9pm Monday March 25th, join me at Resonance Cafe for the performance of #No.Filter: an exercise in vulnerability for clarinet, film, and tape. A performance piece about my personal struggle with Anorexia and Bulimia.