My Story

December 15, 2017

I’m sitting here on my floor cushion couch, still trying to decide whether I should write or if I should do my typical night routine of chewing and spitting junk food while binge watching some mindless sit com. It’s especially tempting tonight because I’ve already bought chips and cookies at the bodega, and I want to step away from the chatter in my mind and this overwhelming thing called emotions. I know the antidote to this desire to numb is to lean more into awareness, go through the fire, and then eventually I’ll finally pass through it to whatever relief is on the other side. The problem is, this fire is going to take weeks or months to get through, and I just. Want. a fucking. Break. When I do show up, I have a lifetime of pent up rage and self-pity – my least favorite and least familiar emotions.

Since I can remember, I’ve had this distinct feeling of being behind. Like everyone had this thing, this quality, that I didn’t have. I could never quite describe it, and from the outside, it made no sense. My life looks pretty shiny. I’ve worked pretty much nonstop since graduating from one of the top musical theatre conservatories- been in the original companies of a national tour and two broadway shows. My ego was satisfied. At 24 I was on top of the world. I was pretty, thin, nice, successful, hard-working, talented. These were my identities, this was how I viewed myself because this is how I thought the world viewed me. But suddenly, at the supposedly wiser age of 25, I completely self sabotaged this identity. Well, let me be clear, I’ve self sabotaged since my sophomore year of college, but this year, I lost my desire to fight. I let my rebellion win. I gained about 25 pounds, my skin exploded into a supreme pizza face, I lost my work ethic, I became selfish, mean, and depressed. Life sucked. The only way I could escape was bingeing and/or C&Sing (chewing and spitting), which I did almost every day. But that would make me gain weight and make my skin explode, which would make me sad, so I numbed it by doing it again. It was a vicious cycle. And the worst part of it was, I knew there was a simple formula to fix all these problems. I’d done it before. I refused to be the victim of my own actions. I hated entitled people who victimize themselves, it was my biggest pet peeve.

This was the time when the #metoo movement began, and the purging of the men accused of sexual allegations. As my facebook feed exploded, my heart began to rumble. Every woman has stories about inappropriate sexual behavior by men, of course. Women are angered by a lifetime under this patriarchal system. I was excited this societal issue was finally coming to light. But I couldn’t fathom actually posting a status myself, and I felt both admiration and repulsion at all the women who did. Some statuses felt genuine while others felt like cries for attention and pity. Me too became an everyday topic of conversation, and this rumbling in my heart grew stronger and stronger.

Then, one night, something changed. Well, it’s not as simple as that. I guess, one night, my behavior started to make sense. All of that depression, the eating disorder, body dysmorphia, etc. were only symptoms to the actual problem. I had never really dealt with my molestation. I thought I did. I talked about it with my therapist and would share with friends if asked. I didn’t think I was in denial about it. I could see how it impacted my relationships with men and sex. I understood my “daddy issues.” But that was only the tip of the iceberg.

That night, I was having a sleepover with my best friend, and her boyfriend- let’s call him Ben- joined us for the majority of the evening. Eventually, Me Too came up as it always does, and Ben asked casually, “Well, neither of you have been molested, right?” To which, I replied, “I have.” We got to talking about it and I told him my story.

When I was 9 or 10, I took private drum lessons. I was a musically gifted child, and my mom was constantly cultivating that talent in singing lessons, piano lessons, dance classes, etc. This teacher, let’s call him Ching because that’s his name, was particularly affectionate and thought I was extraordinarily gifted in rhythm. I was his “favorite,” and as the lessons continued, he began to kiss me on my cheeks or forehead with super wet, tender kisses. He had me sit on his lap sometimes as he would demonstrate the drums. I felt uncomfortable, but I couldn’t really tell if it was wrong, and I didn’t know what to do. My dad is very physically affectionate, he kisses us on the lips and pats us on the butt. My whole family is a touchy feely family. Ching would compliment me, kiss me, tell me how special I was. In my confusion at this behavior, I would giggle uncomfortably and thank him for the compliments. What else is there to do when you are a child alone with a grown man in his apartment?

Then, one lesson, it went too far. I’d already beared the kisses and the sitting on the lap for the first part of the lesson. Then, he wanted to show me a drum video, and he had me sit on his lap. As we watched the video, he started kissing my face, my lips, my neck. His hands wandered around my body, playing with my hair, then my nipples, then down to my vagina, my anus, continually kissing me throughout. I froze stiff. I disassociated from my body and was in my body at the same time. I can’t even remember if he went inside my clothes or not. The video was probably 5-10 minutes long, but it felt like an eternity. After the video ended, he whispered in my ear, “We won’t tell anyone about this, right?” I nodded. “Good girl.”

My mom picked me up, niceties as usual, and I didn’t say a word. I had watched the stories on TV where the molester would threaten the kid not to tell anyone or else he’d kill them and their family, and I was afraid that would happen. So I was obedient as always, didn’t tell anyone, until the night before my next lesson a week later. I told my oldest sister that I didn’t wanna go to the drum lesson tomorrow, and told her why. She brought me to my mom and had me tell her, so I did. (I want to be clear here, I don’t know if this is what actually happened, but this is how I remember it.) My mom replied, “Well, did he rape you?” I said no. She told me that worse things have happened to other kids, and I didn’t have to go to the lesson tomorrow. And that was it. It was never talked about for at least a decade.

There was a time in college when I burst out crying in my acting class and told my class I’d been molested. My teacher sent me to the therapist, but after one session, therapy seemed pretty pointless to me. Over the years, it would come up in conversation here and there. It wasn’t a secret, so I thought I was healed. In a fucked up way, it was almost a badge of honor, proof that I had been through something awful and I didn’t let it defeat me. Here I was, an Asian woman who had been molested as a child, and yet I was not a victim. I took responsibility of my life, I worked hard, and I had a life I was proud of.

Back to that night with Ben. After I told him the story, he asked about if I wanted to press charges. His dad was a lawyer and he wanted to put a mark on Ching’s record. The thing about Ben is, when his mind gets into something, he does not drop it, way after everyone else has lost interest, almost to the point of annoyance. I said I would think about pressing charges, but it seemed pretty pointless now. After all, I wasn’t raped. This thing happened 15 years ago, on Guam. I’d consider it, but I wanted time to think about it. He did not grant me that wish. He kept pushing on and on, way past my rational level of comfort. He fought every excuse. And then, it clicked. “Don’t you want justice?” Justice. I never thought I was deserving of justice.

I watched my mind fight back with all the reasons of why I shouldn’t do anything, like a broken record. ‘You weren’t raped. You kinda led him on. Worse things happen to other people. It’s not a big deal. What’s the point? It happened 15 years ago. Don’t be a weak victim. You’re in control. Honestly, who really cares?’ And these thoughts made me weep. I had never put any validity to any feelings of anger, fear, or self pity. What made my life deserving of justice when so many horrible things happen all over the world with no consequences? But suddenly, this white man with all the privilege in the world thought I was deserving of justice. So deserving, in fact, that he wanted to go way out of his way to seek justice for me. He left me with one final argument. Different people are put into each others lives for a reason. Maybe this was his.

The biggest reason I didn’t want to press charges was that it meant I would actually have to deal with it all. I would probably heal, but that healing would be excruciatingly painful. Having to deal with this trauma meant having to feel a lifetime of pent up anger and self pity. It would be a slow breaking down of my every thought process, the way I viewed the world and myself within that world. I knew my eating disorder, my coping mechanism, was about to get way worse. I had to put myself through the fire if I was going to heal.

That night happened about a month ago. The first week, I really went through it. I used my Meisner class as therapy, and my body would convulse in sobs at the unfairness of it all. I could not believe that people could live their whole lives thinking they were entitled to justice. I was envious of straight white men because, very generally speaking, they grew up without disadvantage. The world was created for them. I sobbed for myself as I would sob for my child. I finally let myself feel sorry for myself, for the first time, ever. How unfair that I was born a woman, and an Asian, and I was molested. How unfair that I was developmentally arrested emotionally at such a young age. I have so much catching up to do.

That’s the thing about the oppressed. When you are raised in a healthy, supportive, environment and you are in the majority, you fundamentally believe you have a right to “liberty and justice for all.” Which is correct. Not only are your opinions and feelings valid, they are correct and important and the world should conform to them.* When you are among the oppressed, whether it be race, gender, or sexual orientation, society subtly treats you as slightly lesser than. You can fight all you want, and many successfully do, but more often than not you start to believe it. Like a battered woman in an abusive relationship, you begin to believe that that is what you deserve. It’s easier to accept than to fight. The combination of my gender, my race, and especially my trauma, made me believe at my core that my life was not as valuable as anyone else’s. I was not deserving of my own point of view. This is why I’ve always felt behind. This is why I’ve felt like a fraud calling myself an artist. My feelings had to be rational, or else I wouldn’t let myself feel them. I had to be in control. Of course I still felt them, and they came out subconsciously in my eating disorder. All the irrational emotions I suppressed was translated in my jaws as it aggressively chewed food and then spit it out for hours on end, a perfect metaphor for the emotions I would taste and spit out immediately.

Now, I have a lifetime of pent up anger and self pity that I need to release. It’s not just anger at Ching or my mom, it’s any situation of which I was angry but not conscious of it. When anyone wronged me in my life, I was quick to empathize. They had a bad day, they’re insecure, they are ignorant and made a mistake. While that is healthy in some ways, I was never on my side, and I suppressed my own valid feelings of anger. That girl in middle school who turned my new friends against me because I brought the Sars virus because I’m from China. (I’m Korean and from Guam.) Those teachers or directors who gave up on me because they didn’t see any potential. Those men who cat called and followed me down the streets when I was walking home alone at night. Someone told me that depression is anger turned inwards. Well, I’ve suppressed a lot of anger. With no outlet, these emotions have festered in me, and I’ve been depressed, a lot. The result- nowadays I am too quick to anger, like the dial has swung completely in the opposite direction. I think it has to be this way for a while and eventually it’ll even out.

Now, I feel like a kid navigating life in NYC. Ignorance was bliss. There was a simple way I viewed the world, a simple formula to have the life I wanted. People were valued based on some combination of beauty, career, popularity, and fame. Within that system, I could control where I stood. But I’m learning I don’t agree with any of that. I self sabotaged and rebelled against my ego because I couldn’t lie to myself anymore. I had to break down my identity and see who I was without a job, without beauty, without popularity. My love for myself was conditional, and therefore, so was my love for my friends and family. You can only love others as much as you love yourself. I am learning I am a messy, anxious person with a hot temper, and a lot of fear. I’m also learning I am wise, creative, and honest, and becoming more authentic, which is what I most respect in others. I can’t pretend I totally accept or even like this yet. It’s like I lost my map, and now I’m just kinda winging it. Without rules and regulations, life just got infinitely more complex and interesting, and I have no idea what to do with it. Freedom is scary. But it’s little victories like tonight that give me faith that I’m gonna figure it out. I didn’t C&S tonight. I didn’t binge. I wrote this damn thing instead.

 

*In this Me Too conversation, men like to ask, “So what can I, a good guy, do?” I’d like to broaden this question to any person in a majority or position of power. First of all, you don’t have to DO anything, that will already be a win. All I ask is for your awareness. The next step- Listen, be attentive, and be on my goddamn side! Don’t get defensive, don’t tell me that you’re not like those evil men. That’s not the point, this is not about you. You have benefitted from a society that gives you an advantage. If I am expressing frustration at that advantage, I’m not frustrated with you personally. You’re just as much a victim to this society as I am, you just got the good end of the bargain. That doesn’t make you any less deserving of what you have. You can choose to empathize and intellectually feel sorrow for the oppressed, but then again- you get to choose when you feel that. So if you want extra credit points, choose to empathize when it is most inconvenient.

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Letter to my body

Dear Body,

I am so sorry for the abuse. I don’t show you how grateful I am for you. I take you for granted. I stuff you, I overwork you, I hide you, I injure you, I starve you. But I love you. I really do, underneath it all.

To my feet, who I have injured over and over again. I am sorry for all my anger towards you. I know I need to treat you better, and I know you are overworked. I can’t give you a break because I need you all day every day. I am trying to strengthen the other muscles so you don’t have to work as hard, but I will say- you don’t make it easy. You are beautiful to look at, but not the most practical. You look like Barbie feet in that you are proportionally small for my body with high arches. You have that extra bone that I like to jokingly call my sixth toe stub, but you make my foot wide and small. You make it hard to fit shoes onto you. But I know I’ve not been the kindest to you and for that I sincerely and genuinely apologize. I am doing my best to give you a break, but I need your patience and I need you to hold on.

To my legs, I used to love you and lately I’ve not. Especially my thighs. Proportionately to my body, you are really short. I wish you were longer. I wish all the fat didn’t cling on to you. I’m trying to love you for your muscular thickness. I’m trying to pretend I’m Beyonce with thick, muscular thighs, but you see, I’m surrounded by the white, leggy woman with little butts and long, lean thighs. And I compare and compare. And I am tricked. So today, I’m going to make an effort to change my point of view- a paradigm shift if you will. I love your muscular thickness. I love the meatiness on you. If I were to eat you, you would taste much juicier and yummier than skinny chicken legs. There’s nothing wrong with those, they just aren’t mine. As Amy Poehler says, “Good for you, not for me.” I’m sorry I am so ashamed of you in that extremely short costume I have to wear every night. It’s been my 5 minute daily dose (or show-ly dose) of personal hell/torture. Maybe I can shift that to be proud of you. Maybe I’ll think of it as my secret, naughty, stripper time. Ha! I don’t know. But I’ve got to try. I know I need to love you more.

To my hips and ass- what a love hate relationship I have with you. You are big, especially for an Asian girl. Men love you, often commenting on how it’s the best ass they’ve seen and/or felt. But I hide you and in front of women, I’m ashamed of you. You are full of stretch marks and scars, and I can’t bare the thought of exposing you in naked bright light. You are strong and weak at the same time, which is very surprising. So I’ve been strengthening you, using you just a little more in every activity. I kind of avoid looking at you, which is easy cause you’re behind me. But I do love you. I love that I have an ass. I’d much rather a large ass than a small ass. Once again, not trying to put down other bodies, but you are mine, and I need to shift my perspective.

To my torso, I love you. I love your shape. I love my small waist, and I love that it is always the smallest part of my body. I love my core and I love how flat and muscular you generally are. I work hard on you because I see you so much. I do use you to gauge my skinniness/fatness when I put on that first costume. I don’t like those love handles, but maybe if I had someone to handle that love it would be different. I guess they’re called hips. But you are one extra long torso. I’m excited to see how not big I get when I’m pregnant. Hey organs, do you have a lot of room in there? Is that why I can eat so much? I will say though, you are the first place I block and hide. I hold a lot of tension in that second and third chakra- my diaphragm and my stomach. I suck you in often. I feel most exposed in my lower torso, and I always feel the need to cover you with a pillow, especially when I sit or after I eat. I wonder what that’s about. Aren’t you my emotional center? So maybe I’m trying to hide you. My homework with you is to listen to you more. I think you are directly linked to my will and emotions, so maybe I’ll get more in sync with that as a result too. That would be nice.

To my arms, I had no idea until recently that you were thick. My upper arms / shoulders I mean. The Korean doctor called you cellulite and I freaked out. I wish I was ignorant of the specifics of body proportion and fat pockets. I used to think it was just skinny and fat. Now I know about “skinny arms” and “thunder thighs” and “love handles” and “double chins”…so much language to judge bodies. Remember when you were just my arms? Now you’re the second quickest way to assess my thinness. My sister said you looked fat in a costume and I can never un-think that every time I put on that costume. I’m sorry I judge you. You are strong and I’m learning how to strengthen certain muscles around you. It’s a work in progress.

To my neck, chin, and face- ugh. Oof. Mom used to say I had this beautiful, long, deer neck she found so beautiful. Now, all I see is this double chin. You and my upper arms are the easiest way to see how big the rest of my body is. I hold most of my tension in you- my neck and jaw. I will actively work to release you. But face, you are really beautiful. With or without make up, believe it or not. Stop hiding behind make up. Make up doesn’t make you beautiful. You just are beautiful. You didn’t do that, God did that. So look at yourself as God’s beautiful daughter, you are royalty.

To my skin, you used to be one of my best qualities, and you turned into my worst over the years. Again, my fault – all the self sabotage in eating disorders, hormonal shifts, stress and anxiety… I love you and I hate you. You are smooth and less hairy than most. You are a beautiful color. But you have crazy pigment and I hate how easily you scar, especially from acne. I really, really don’t like this. I really don’t like that a pimple will last months in appearance. I wish that I didn’t feel the need to cover you up so much. But hopefully with this new skincare regimen, you’ll be better. I’m going to take my time with you, and actively love all over you. You have been the source of so much stress, and the thing I hide the most. You give me a complicated relationship with makeup. But I have faith in you. I know if I treat you right, you can become extremely beautiful, like you once were and are meant to be. And I’ll eat cleaner to help you glow.

Body, the way I treat you is the physical manifestation of how I treat myself and my creativity. I’m hypercritical of you. I love you overall, and will always love you. But I often don’t like you. You have been something that serves me, and I have not served you in return. I’ve used you to measure how I value myself. I guess the point is, this relationship needs to stop being a one way street. A good friend said something about masculine vs feminine energies – to do vs to receive. I’m going to receive more, and stop over-valuing testosterone. I’m going to exercise to make you feel good, not to make you skinnier. I’m going to eat what makes you happy. I’m going to treat you with respect and love. I’m going to see what I can do for you instead of the other way around. It’s about time, right? Fuck society, fuck the media, fuck this culture. Fuck anyone that tells me what I should look like or what I should eat. I am angry that I have given my power to the world to decide if I am beautiful or not. Body, I find you beautiful. I wouldn’t trade you for anyone else’s in the world because I built you.

Be patient with me, body, as I work to fix this relationship. I’m learning this Intuitive Eating thing, but it’s going to be a process, and I can’t control the timing of that process. I haven’t listened to you in so long, I’m learning how to again. You’ve been incredibly good to me. Thank you.

Reading this letter makes me sad. I have been cruel to you. I’ve picked at every little flaw. I forget that you are God’s creation. And God was pleased when She created you. You are in no place to judge Her creation. You don’t belong to yourself. You belong to God. You belong to the world, to other people. I release my shame about you. I release my guilt, my hatred my judgement. I replace all of that and shower you with love, respect, and radical acceptance. I love you unconditionally, no matter how big or small you are.

Love,

Me.

Come in and close the door please

I already wrote half of this first blog and it was scary and exciting and new but I wrote it on my phone and it mysteriously vanished. So here I am, starting fresh with a giant run on sentence and a lack of punctuation. Welcome to my new blog!

Here is my thesis. There are plenty of books and resources out there where the author has overcome her struggles and can teach the public through her previous pain how to get over the reader’s current battles. There are not quite as many resources out there about people who are currently in the woods and struggling to find the light. That’s me. On the outside, I seem pretty successful and somewhat put together. I live in NYC in my own apartment and I’m on Broadway. But on the inside, I’m a hot mess. It seems to me that the more “proper” I am, the more anxious I feel. I’m learning to bridge that gap. I’m learning that everyone’s a mess, and I enjoy and respect the ones who don’t try to hide it. I aspire to expose my vulnerability. I aspire to feel any uncomfortable emotion instead of running away from it or numbing it through my eating disorder. Ah, there it is, the seed that made me want to write.

I’ve only just come to terms with the fact that I have an eating disorder. This is funny because I’ve had it for about 7 years now. Oh, the power of denial. It’s been on and off, and I thought I controlled it. I was wrong. This eating disorder is a tricky one because it’s not really talked about. After many hours of researching throughout the years, I’ve learned that the most common name for it is chewing and spitting, or C&S. It’s exactly what it sounds like. I’ve read countless articles on it-how it affects insulin levels, how it’s a harmless way to diet, how it decays your teeth, how it’s another form of bulimia, etc. I got the idea from a Sex and the City episode, where Miranda gets lunch with a friend who moved to LA and lost all this weight by spitting out his food. A lightbulb went off and I thought, “Brilliant!”

A little about me. I grew up the weird, skinny, rule-following, hard-working youngest of three girls. I was an eater. I had the appetite of Michael Phelps in the most intense period of training for the Olympics, but somehow I was still very, very skinny. I grew 5 inches taller than my sisters and my mother by the time I was a junior in high school. Then, I stopped growing upwards, and started growing outwards. Watching your body change shape is a very strange thing. It’s also something that seems to be in your control, especially in a world where nothing is in your control. So, I kept myself skinny til the end of high school with a mild, unacknowledged form of anorexia, and boys gave me attention and praise for my skinny body.

Looking back on my childhood relationship with food, it was relatively healthy. My mom provided an endless supply of delicious, healthy, hearty meals. I was skinny because I ate what I wanted when I wanted, stopped when I was full, and was physically active with a fast metabolism. Also because I never thought about it. Then I started thinking about it.

My first year of college was…amazing. I went to a prestigious university and did all the extra curriculars. I was always cast in shows, was in the best a cappella group (in my opinion), even joined a popular sorority. I was still very skinny, but slowly gaining weight from the endless food options in the dining halls and late night food culture. Everyone ate and drank, so so much. So I did too. But I was still young and still skinny, and it didn’t bother me that much. I would take massive shits and think there went the calories.

That summer, I had my first major stoner phase. My best friend at the time was a gorgeous, fit dancer, and we would volcano every night then binge on oreos, peanut M&Ms, Cheez Its, and ice cream while watching National Geographic. We then progressed to buying Schwag (spelling?), or a brick of shitty weed, and making weed butter. We’d make elaborate meals with this butter- omelettes, stir fry, baked goods- and be out of our minds stoned all day, then keep eating and smoking. I think I gained 10 pounds that summer. I learned how delicious shitty food was. But I was still relatively skinny, and still didn’t care, that much.

Then, I transferred to a highly reputable conservatory for musical theatre. Dun dun dun. My freshman year roommate was this gorgeous blonde. She was, and still is, one of the most beautiful girls I’ve ever seen. She looks like a real life Barbie, if Barbie also had a six pack. I was naturally pretty and skinny and Asian, and we made an interesting and wonderful pair. We even had the same first name and middle initial. She cared a lot about her appearance. A lot. I’d never seen such a beautiful, fit person shit on herself so much for microscopic pockets of “fat,” which seemed more like skin, or muscle. But she was so stunningly beautiful, and I subconsciously thought that this must be the path to beauty- shitting on yourself. So I started to look at myself and act that way. It seemed to be the culture of the conservatory in general. “Skinny” was the ultimate compliment.

It was a very slow decline. I was thriving my second freshman year and people paid attention to me. I felt in control and hopeful. I would eat a single vegetable spring roll for dinner then elliptical for an hour, and it was effortless. My mind was on my art. I was back to my high school weight, but with some muscles now. Sophomore year was still pretty great. But as time went by, I got less and less validation from the outside, and didn’t know how to validate myself. This is when I watched that episode of Sex and the City, and I found a way to “cheat.” My ego was somewhat high from being validated so much over the last couple years of my life. So when that ego got fed less and less, I clung on to this exterior of happy success, and slowly decayed inside. I loved “cheating.” It was my way of coping. If I ever felt sad or anxious, I’d buy a big bag of Chips Ahoy or frosted animal cookies with milk and C&S til it was all gone. Then I’d dump it in the toilet or in an outside dumpster and carry on as if nothing happened. It never took away my emotions, it would just distract me from them and delay the pain of feeling by pushing it deeper in.

A part of me loved having a secret. Loved being a rebel. I’d been such a good girl my whole life, and this felt like my act of rebellion. It always seemed harmless, but deep down, it felt so wrong. So I ignored that feeling by doing it more. Of course the more I did this, the more I delayed feeling pain, which made the feeling grow, so I distracted myself by obsessing over food and my body. Food would be more forbidden so I’d starve and then binge on it. When I couldn’t eat anymore, I’d start C&Sing. I’d get bigger and my face exploded in acne because my hormones were thrown off. The bigger and pimplier I would get, the more I hid it, the more I’d starve and binge, and the more I’d cope by C&Sing. It was a vicious cycle.

Fast forward to now, July 2017, about 7 years later. The cycle never stopped. I’ve gained and lost 20 pounds a couple times. It took breaks for sure. There was a year where I was thriving in my first Broadway show and I lost all the weight and was happy and fulfilled with passion and art and I couldn’t believe I’d ever C&Sed. I’d casually joke with acquaintances, “Can you believe I used to do this thing where I’d chew and spit out massive quantities of food? It’s so foreign to me now!” Then, I left that show in preparation for my next show and the anxiety of life came back and so did this coping mechanism. And it came back, Hard. Here I am now in my second Broadway show, still trying to break loose from these self made chains.

This eating disorder is only the tip of the iceberg. It’s the side effect of some root issue, which I think currently is called my quarter life crisis. I’m learning to view it that way, to acknowledge and identify that there is some deep inner conflict in me that I am aggressively acting out with C&Sing. It’s almost a gift, like an instant red flag or warning sign. “Slow down! Pay attention! What are you actually feeling?” And then, “Feel your feeling.” Cue tears.

Are you bored yet? I hope not. I’ve only skimmed the surface. I feel like I could write a whole book, but the book doesn’t have an ending. Every time I write a sentence, my mind goes in three different directions and I want to tangent forever and ever. It seems selfish to me to go on and on about myself. It’s that demon in my brain that screams “NOBODY CARES ABOUT YOUR STORY” to which I usually say you’re right and wallow in self pity and feigned indifference. But I’ve been reading a lot of autobiographies lately. Amy Schumer, Chris Rock, Tina Fey, Lena Dunham, Sara Bareilles, and currently Amy Poehler and Sara Silverman (on tape). Yes, I guess mostly all comedians. I love to laugh and I love to cry, and these comedians can invoke that masterfully. I’ve also been listening to a lot of podcasts and immersing myself in the world of body positivity and intuitive eating.* And the thing that helps me the most is hearing other people’s stories. Learning that I am not alone. That the most “successful” people have fought through and continue to fight through their own struggles. This one is mine. So that is my hope with this blog. I’m writing so I can release my deepest shame and hopefully someone else will realize they’re not alone and reduce their shame as well. That is my sincere hope.

Here’s to the beginning of this blogging journey. It’s gonna be messy and depressing sometimes. Hopefully funny and happy at other times, but probably more of the former. All I can guarantee is that I will be 100% honest. Oof, scary.

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A quick note as to why I chose the name xenanymous, other than the first 13 usernames that I thought were genius were already taken. I’m chuckling to myself like a gentle old lady as I type out my new identity- xenanymous. Ha! There I go again. Dumb. Anyway, the username comes from a combination of Xena and Anonymous.

For those of you who don’t know Xena, she is the warrior princess I used to watch growing up on TV. She was a badass. (I find it very progressive that that show existed when I was growing up, considering the first major female super hero movie Wonder Woman literally just came out decades later.) I chose Xena because she is a female warrior. My definition of warrior comes from one of my favorite books, Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle. In the book, she defines a warrior as someone who sits through the hardest, hottest, most unbearable and painful times of life and doesn’t try to fight against it or avoid it. This was profound to me. We humans will do everything to avoid feeling pain.

The second part of “xenanymous” is anonymous. Because I want to stay anonymous. I find safety in being hidden. I spend most of my time trying to avoid people I know. I’m only just beginning to accept and love my ugly, and am slowly letting in my closest friends and family. But my peers, my community? No. They intimidate me. Somehow I seem to be friends with the prettiest, happiest, most passionate and successful people, at least it seems that way on social media. I hate social media. I hope one day I can be brave enough and come out to the world as this flawed creature that I am. But for now, baby steps. So if you do a tiny bit of research and figure out who I am, please, please, keep it between you and me.

There are so many things I want to blog about- body image, social media, god, religion, art, exercise, racism, feminism, parents, theatre, spirituality, therapy…the list goes on and on. I can’t wait to discover my point of view in all these things and hopefully hear yours too.

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*I’ve only just begun my journey into Body positivity and intuitive eating, but here are some resources that have helped me so far- Isabel Foxen Duke, Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, Ashley Graham and her book A New Model, and the podcast “Food Psych” with Christy Harrison. Get into it!