As many of you know, I started writing FULL when I was in the thick of treatment. It was therapeutic for me to write it. I would come back to therapy with lyrics and bits of scenes, show them to my team leader, and she would praise me with compliments. It made me feel good and productive. Like I was doing something right while everything else about recovery felt inherently wrong. It gave me purpose and saved my life day in and day out.
Recovery isn’t linear, though, so I had many a slip up. I relapsed a few times while in treatment. There was one particularly bad spell that winter where I was sliding back into comfortable old habits. I was weighing myself multiple times a day, a habit I thought I had gotten rid of. I was trying my best to actively restrict, skip a few snacks throughout the day, attempt to go to bed hungry. Physically and mentally I felt pretty awful, but there was some deep part of me that, for the first time in months, felt calm. It was during this time that I wrote the song “Falling.”
I feel you creeping in, I feel you reaching out
Your cold embrace is cloaking me with understanding
I feel you taking hold, I feel you grasping tight
I’m falling quickly to the ground, can’t feel the landing.
I had grown so accustomed to writing what I was going through with my disorder as songs that it just came out. I was self aware enough to look at what was happening and think “Oh okay, I can use this for the show!” I kept going, writing from Emily’s stand point. I spent the day with an old friend, writing the song. At the end of it I felt completely exhausted. I hadn’t eaten all day.
I carried you when you were weak, to sad to cry or even speak
and now you’re selfishly abandoning this friendship
I read the words back and thought to myself “…what am I doing?” I was actively relapsing, using the feelings as fodder for a show whose message is “be your own hero”. I felt like a fraud. I was enjoying this backslide, enjoying my afternoon with my dearest friend – my eating disorder, because it was giving me so much inspiration and material to write some pretty decent songs. I felt worse than ever. I decided to take some time away from FULL. I put it on the back burner, because it wasn’t the most important thing in that moment. The most important thing was myself.
And so I come to the point of this whole story. Throughout my entire recovery journey I kept trying to do other things. I kept trying to have a job, trying to audition for shows, trying to write my musical. But all of that was detrimental to my process. It was only after I finally gave myself over completely to the process that I was able to recover. If I hadn’t, the disorder would have won, and I wouldn’t have been able to even finish the show. This is an extreme case, of course. I’m not saying that everyone should take time off of their lives the moment they feel bad about themselves. All I’m saying is that whenever there is something in your life that makes you feel bad about yourself, makes you feel like a fraud, or is some sort of negative influence on your happiness — it is so okay to let go of it. To put it away for a little while. I give you permission to do that. You’ve got this.