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one iced latte, please.

the last time i spoke to tom i said, sometimes, i just don't want to feel so much.

and he said, congratulations, you've just defined what an eating disorder is in a nutshell--the not wanting to feel.

i've been going through this interminable, undeniable period of writer's block.

as soon as i got here: capow, it hit. and i wondered if it had something to do with energy--with the transference of energy.

because, you see, for me...writing has always been an act of energy. of feeling. of seeing feelingly. what i mean is, i don't think it through terribly well. i mean i think it through, but mostly at a level of half-awareness. on a simmer of sorts and when it begins to boil...well, then i write. it's a feeling thing. of taking what i'm feeling and putting it on the page. so that while the reader may not get what i'm saying exactly, it doesn't quite matter, because they've lived in a different place, for just a moment. felt something just a wee bit their own. or not their own. they've experienced some sort of shift. (i think. i hope).

feeling and energy.

this post alone should be case enough to send me back to a school where someone can teach me how to write correctly and articulately and well. and yet, that's not really of interest to me. i want to write in the cracks. in the fault lines. i want to walk away with dirty fingers from sorting through the glorious and renegade weeds of my own life.

and so here i am, suddenly trying to act, and i can't write. and if i can't write, well then...
i always assumed it would be possible to do both. but this acting thing and tapping into emotions disperses and displaces my energy in such a way that the water only simmers. constantly, yes. but no real bubbles. no explosions of air.

and the thing is i'm quite sure that writing saved my life. and so i can't give it up.

how did it save my life? a good and valid question. well, because, if writing is feeling, and an eating disorder is the avoidance of feeling, then writing (for me) is the enemy of ned*. writing is the sorcerer's stone. the silver bullet. the long, sought after spoonful of sugar.

funny, i always thought it would be love.

acting is a feeling thing too. i do it feelingly. and i'm quite good at it. or i was. once. and yet in some ways (and i realized this just tonight) it was only perpetuating my sickness. as actors we are desperate to feel. but we play people who feel so very much that they want all the feeling taken out of them, want to stand barren. as actors we play people who rail against--who laugh when they need to cry--who become silent when the cries of rage overpower.

i thought i stepped away from acting because i couldn't align my health with the realities of the industry. but now i realize it was more than that. it was that it wasn't healthy for me to play people who didn't want to feel. because that was the reality of my life. it was too close.

there are days when i feel the residuals of ned. and suddenly it's as though i can't breathe. i mistakingly step into a pocket of space and time that he has claimed as his own and i am swimming through air, helplessly. and yes, i smile for the camera. and yes, as i do so i feel like a fraud. a liar. and while people kindly remind me of how far i've come, it doesn't feel as though i've taken but two steps from the ground zero of my own invited destruction.

and then just as quickly i step out of that pocket. and i see the many thousands of miles i've traversed. and i see the many miles i've left to go. and it all seems possible.

i don't believe the people that say this will be something i struggle with for the rest of my life. i think they're wrong. i think they don't know. i think that's something that's been said so often and for so long that others repeat it as fact.

i think i will look back on all this in two, ten, twenty years and i will in fact be doing just that, looking back. it won't be a daily battle. and i say all this because even now there are days where i feel so completely, so gloriously, so perfectly... normal.

i started all this rambling by declaring this a period of undeniable writer's block. undeniable might be a misnomer. maybe it's not writer's block. maybe it's just that i've not taken the time to sit down and hash it all out. to force the boil. sometimes words come easily and i've been so very fortunate to experience that. often. and yet there is just as much value in the uphill trek through the muck, the searching for words when words themselves seem impossible.

because this--all of this will make me a better actor if and when i decide that that's a path i want to embark on. writing is not the enemy of acting. and acting is not the enemy of good health. and, well...there you have it.

and maybe love is the answer. love of words and theatre and afternoon bike rides. and coffee, coffee too.

you know, i sat down to write a post on the virtues of coffee and this is what i got.

go figure.

*ned is the name for my nasty little eating disorder.
to read more, go here.


Brittany said...

while i'm sure a post about coffee would be interesting, this was great. i still think there is a lot left to be understood about eating disorders, and people might assume it's a life long struggle like other issues. maybe it's like that for some people. but i think that you're right. there will come a day when you realize you're looking back at it and you're not in the midst anymore. but i hope you'll still have things to write about.

kara lynn said...

i love how you say that writing has saved you. because honestly i feel the same way. it's the emotions you feel that you don't want to feel or face. that you hide deep in the back of your brain. but for me writing seems to sort them out in a way of keeping me sane. from down spiraling into another abyss of mine. i try at least to write what i feel. and from that trying and 'forcing to boil' through writing, it keeps me from boiling on the inside. make sense? somedays i feel like the worst has past then others i wonder what i was talking about. loving yourself for me has been the second best therapy. you are amazing!

gui said...

Dearest stranger, I discovered your blog in November. And spent the whole afternoon reading all your posts. Then I went to my mother's (who is a writer) -we weren't in good terms back them- and I spent all night doing my best translating your posts because mom doesn't understand english. And that was it. We talked after that. You are a bubble of love. And love conquers all.

Camilla Leila said...

you make me smile.

i think its good to feel. to feel things deeply and to feel how they change you. thats what life is all about after all. those moments. love is certainly a quaking, scary feeling that kind of makes you want to run away and hide but at the same time it is so worth it.

and on that note, i just woke up here in slovenia and i desperately need a cup of coffee :)

amber.lou said...

i was once told that i would struggle with my own 'ned' (not an eating disorder...but a comparatively similar disorder) for the rest of my life. that it would always be there.
i flat refused to believe it.
i did not resign myself to a life of fear.
and i'm so very jolly i did.
and i'm so very jolly you refused to accept those statements.
and that you tell us about it.
thank you kindly

Larissa Wunder said...

thank you... I thought I'm alone..and than you wrote that.

Cas said...

Funnily enough.
It's all three.
Writing. Lattes. Love
That sustain me.

Drink them all up.


Rocketgirl said...

Hi Meg - I've been lurking ever since MIM posted you and I love your blog! I had a ned for a few years and thought we're all different, some of the reasons were the same. Definately the feel to feel something else. I didn't want to feels sad, scared, so I could control that and just feel that hungry emptiness. For me it was always about being in control, even if the thing I was in control of was ned.

My own journey out of it was slow, but now I stop and look back and realize I left it a few miles back. Everyone says you'll struggle for life, and maybe for them it is true. But for me, it has almost no power anymore. There's many factors, but today the reason it can't come back is that I have become a mother, and as much as I wish (and I do wish sometimes) I could go back to the day that false feeling a sense of control and accomplishment that ned gave me when I feel so insanely out of control (motherhood was not my frist career choice so the transition has been tricky on me;), I can't. I can't focus om myself anymore. I can't be that selfish and turn myself negatively inward, because all of me is required to raise these children.

I'm not coming out of lurking to give you the crazy advice of "have kids and it'll go away!" because you know as well as I, our neds are all completely different. But I am coming out to give you a big wave and say YES!! This is exactly right:

"i think i will look back on all this in two, ten, twenty years and i will in fact be doing just that, looking back. it won't be a daily battle. and i say all this because even now there are days where i feel so completely, so gloriously, so perfectly... normal. "

I'm shocked some days at how normal I feel. It still surprises me. Bravo to you, Meg. Your journey inspires and delights me.

Rocketgirl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Krysta said...

I think part of the answer is love, but a love and appreciation for oneself. It took me a long while to realize that a certain amount of selfish is necessary. And oddly enough I found the greatest, trust love, I have experienced when I started to consider myself as the most important person in my life.

Love hearing about your journey :)

laura marie said...

Oh Meg... I'm so confident that if we ever sat down to coffee, we'd quite possibly never get up. For one thing, I'm both an actress and a writer, currently getting my Masters in the latter. And for a second thing, I had a horrible, cruel Ned of my own that I've physically "recovered" from but mentally still struggle with on some days.

You just sorted out how I feel about all 3 things in my life--acting, writing, Ned--and my little soul just sighed in relief. Thank you thank you, and if you're ever in Chicago you seriously need to let me know!

jill said...

if this is your version of being inarticulate than you are keep at it ;) wish I could go to your workshop, but alas I have to 1. work, 2. can't really act all that well in the first place, lol!

Have a beautiful day!

kerrie elaine said...

meg, the ability to feel things so deeply is not a curse, but a crown to wear upon your head.

Walt Whitman once said that he was simmering until Emerson brought him to a boil.

But what I don't think Whitman fully understood was his own ability to simmer for himself, and boil in semblance to his own heartbeat.

Check your heartbeat and its rhythm as you write. They share the same string, and the fact that you can feel it, well what a blessing most people wait their whole lives to experience.

Or as Jeff Buckley sang, "a heart that beats as both siphon and reservoir..."

You have magic inside you. Do you understand that? Accept it as golden, God-handed truth? Crown it and wear it like sacred ancient jewels, love.

Because if you stop, you'll wish to hell that you could get back the feelings you so desperately wished away.

Maggie said...

Well done. I studied writing in college, but even my professors would admit that the best education in good writing is doing it. And reading it.

Although every writer who is looking to get published, or even learn more about the writing process would enjoy reading this book: The Forest for the Trees. http://www.amazon.com/Forest-Trees-Editors-Advice-Writers/dp/1573228575

J. said...

I always have commenting writers block, but as a fellow gal who has writing to thank for salvation, yet struggles to put words out there....I will just say your words are captivating, honest, and completely make me feel as well.

Heather said...

Sometimes even the most profound writers need a little inspiration. And sometimes, a break is needed. It'll all come back in time I think. Also, good luck finding any coffee in Provo, none of us drink it here :)

Jacob said...

this was actually wonderful.
the ironic thing was you had a block... and this piece turned out beautifully. Hence, talent pumps through your blood. You are very talented, indeed. Keep writing-- your posts always uplift my day!

Jacob C. said...

I commented just above this.
I have made a new account on blogspot
b/c my old one was made on a hotmail,
and i wanted it on a gmail!
so, this is Jacob... I just didn't want you to think that I stopped reading your posts! :)

Anonymous said...

thank you for your writers.

they make me feel like this murakami passage:

""Your heart is like a great river after a long spell of rain, spilling over its banks. All signposts that once stood on the ground are gone, inundated and carried away by that rush of water. And still the rain beats down on the surface of the river. Every time you see a flood like that on the news you tell yourself: That’s it. That’s my heart."

That's it. That's my heart.

Anonymous said...

*for your writings.

christine said...

Isn't the journey amazing! And your self discoveries are heartening. While I'm not a fan of coffee, I do get all the over stuff you shared in this post. You're so on the right track.

P.S. Have fun teaching.

Julia said...

"writing is the sorcerer's stone. the silver bullet. the long, sought after spoonful of sugar.

funny, i always thought it would be love. "

I've pretty much come to the same conclusion. And I agree, love is the answer, but it's not just romantic love. it's love of all kinds of things :)

You're more eloquent in your phrasing, of course!

The Rookie said...

I read this yesterday. I couldn't comment then. It is still haunting me. I hope I can say something that reflects any portion of what is inside of me now:

I think we all have something--some hurt, some regret or mistake or fluke or what have you, some thing that we hope we can just leave behind one day. That we can step from it, slide out of it as a snake from its skin. That part of us left behind forever.

When you wrote:
"i don't believe the people that say this will be something i struggle with for the rest of my life. i think they're wrong. i think they don't know. i think that's something that's been said so often and for so long that others repeat it as fact."

I said to myself, "yes!" Because I hope for this truth so very much for myself, for all of us. And I think there is a possibility in it.

Anyway, so much to say here. But I think I'll end with thank you. For your raw-ness. For your vulnerability. You are a writer. That ability, the way you think and feel and stream these together through the medium of language, it doesn't come through any formal education.

m.a.f said...

dear anonymous,

thank you a million times over for this passage. it is so gorgeous--i imagine i will repost it in the next few days.


Shawn Tina said...

i love the notion of "forcing the boil". sometimes i forget who i am writing for and why. then as simply and clearly as it came to you, it came to me as well: i'm writing to save my life. i've known this for awhile know. that's it.
i'm writing because with my own little nasty e.d., i desire control. mastery over every situation, feeling, circumstance - most of all, mastery over myself. it's the worst illusion and i realize it time and time again, like now when i'm writing and ideas just flow forth and words show up that i didn't legitimately authorize (via. le e.d.).


Wendy said...

"i don't believe the people that say this will be something i struggle with for the rest of my life. i think they're wrong. i think they don't know. i think that's something that's been said so often and for so long that others repeat it as fact."

This is a lie, and there is nothing else to it. As someone who has personally struggled with an eating disorder, I can tell you this is untrue. Completely. 100%. False.

You do not have to struggle forever. Full recovery is not only a dream. It is possible, I tell you, and I will tell that to anyone. Once I let go of ED, and trust me when I say it was like a part of me died, I realized he was only holding me back. He is no longer in my life, but he will always be a part of my past. But that's the only place- my past.

You WILL get better. You WILL recover. And as you already know, it won't be easy. But the hardest things in life are many times the most rewarding.

Anonymous said...

I never comment on blogs, mostly because I never really have anything all that different or important to say :p But I just want to let you know that I suffered from a severe eating disorder, that got so progressively worse over 6 years that I went into the first stages of heart failure. BUT one day the therapist asked me: 'do you want to get better?'. And the answer was yes. So I did. I fought my hardest, changed my negative thinking and bad habits, and four years later I am completely normal. I still had residuals or the disorder for the first 2 years (and yes, it does take a good deal of time!), but you do get over it. Completely. And it sounds like you are fighting hard and I know you will win too :) Just give it time and don't beat yourself up if sometimes it's hard and you fall a little bit, even the best do. They wouldn't be the best if they didn't :)

Annie said...

meg - i ran over to your blog YESTERDAY from tazaandhusband (as a fellow district habitant. i revel in her ability to love the heat that is DC!), and have been popping all over the place on your blog. thoughts:

your writing has affected my emotions deeply. my boyfriend said i was different today, and i'm attributing it wholly to your blog. this is a compliment! as i myself have been "failing" this year - in many respects, but also in being the prolific reader i normally am - the way you give voice to true, vulnerable, "take me as i am" feelings is so powerful. and brave.

the part where you talk about how you write ("to put your feelings on paper", etc) - this reminds me so much of what joan didion says about why she writes - "to see what's glimmering around the edges" of her mind (i'm misquoting, but the "glimmering" always sticks). so lovely that there are more people out there who think this.

sorry for the long post, and for all the dashes and parenthetical thoughts. if i had more time to revise and edit, i would amaze you with my succinct pithiness. alas. you are wonderful.