I’ve been wanting to make this post for months but I wanted to wait until I could do a proper review with pictures. This will be a long post because of that, but in order to be thorough I wanted to give you as much information as I could for me, personally, so you could calibrate to see if any of this might be helpful for you.
Some things I will probably ramble about here and there – a warning in advance:
I am going vegan after being vegetarian for 20 years. It’s a process, but I’m figuring it out.
Also I’m trying to do health-related shit this year I’ve been putting off forever. I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow I am 1000000% dreading but I’m going to go because I feel like I should.
I told the doctor at the first time I met her that I should probably see someone related to my anorexic thought processes that I’ve mostly conquered on my own but which still affect aspects of my life. She referred me to an ED clinic and they’ve tried calling me 4 times now but I haven’t answered yet. The first two times I didn’t know it was them, I thought it was just a random number. The second two times I had them added into my caller ID and I just. Couldn’t pick up.
I really appreciate they tried so many times to contact me. I’m trying to tell myself to contact them back.
That is one of my low-level goals going forward.
Anyway, I have the anorexia-related posts I wrote years ago but never posted online. You may see those at some point here, too.
Taking care of my health is the worst.
I hate going to doctors. I like doctors as people. I respect their profession. I just super hate spending all this time on my health ugh ugh ugh what a waste
But I know it isn’t actually a waste so I’m making myself push forward on things I kept putting off for years and years. It doesn’t become less important by ignoring it for years; it only becomes more.
I’ve been thinking about makeup lately…
Bear with me a second.
When I was young, my mom was an Avon lady and then later a Mary Kay lady. She used to use makeup all the time, and taught me when I was around 14ish how to do my own. Maybe younger? I forget. Back then I wasn’t super interested in “girly” things, though. She had this super cute, very fashionable style and she’d buy me things on these great deals at thrift stores or wherever she found great discounts, cute skirts or dresses or the likes, but I hated wearing anything but pants. Oversized ones, at that. I didn’t wear much makeup back in the day, but when I got contacts I did start wearing more because my eyes were more visible than they had been behind my thick ass glasses.
Time passed, it’s probably a boring and long story, eventually I started wearing cuter clothes. Venturing out in my own style.
YouTube became a thing. I started slowly learning more techniques by following people.
For my 30th birthday, I saved up and bought myself LASIK. My eyesight was ATROCIOUS. I literally couldn’t do most eye makeup looks because I couldn’t see. In order to see what I was doing, I had to be too close to the mirror. The brush handle would hit the mirror and I couldn’t do anything. But I didn’t like wearing my contacts while doing too much eyeshadow or mascara (at all, I HATED wearing mascara with contacts) because shit ALWAYS got into my eyes somehow and it was a mess with the contacts, and then I’d ruin the eye makeup getting the contacts out and flushing my eyes and ugh. Just. Ugh.
But after LASIK, my makeup game really accelerated. I realized I could actually fucking see now. I could actually do shit with my eyes. And the thing is, my eyes are the one thing about myself I’ve always loved, even throughout my anorexic episodes, even throughout depression or just, everything and anything. I have found reasons to criticize literally every part of me, except my eyes. I love their color. They’re like a mix of grey and blue with a bit of a weird hazel-green sort of??? When close enough in very certain light? Mostly they read as grey-blue. Usually they just read as dark blue.
I found that makeup made me really happy. I could switch things up completely day to day if I felt like it. Where my clothing was dictated by my weight, by my comfort, by my body dysmorphia, my face remained enough the same that I had a canvas every day that didn’t make me feel bad about myself. It didn’t matter if I looked ugly with or without makeup – it let me play up what I wanted to that day, or downplay what I wanted other days.
I have spent the past week and a half trying to compile some sort of response to everything that has come out recently with Sonny/Santino Hassell. Trying to understand what to say or how to say it has consumed me and still, nothing seems right. I’m exhausted.
I know people have a lot of questions but unfortunately, I don’t know that I have the answers anyone needs. I was blindsided by all of this. I met Sonny when I was 19 years old and in college, and at this point we’ve both known each other almost half our lives. I truly believed he existed, because I had no reason to believe otherwise. Having to rewrite that history in my own mind has been, to say the least, a feat.
I have a much longer post which talks more at length about various aspects, but I know a lot of people don’t want to read anything that’s too long or involved. So if you only wonder about what I think regarding the three main questions:
Unfortunately yes, Sonny/Santino does not seem to exist, although who exactly was talking/writing all those years I have no idea. I don’t know if it was one or both of them. I suspect only they know. They (or someone) did write the series with me, though, and we did spend a ton of hours on it. That, at least, I can verify is not a lie.
As for whether anyone actually has liver cancer or other health concerns, I honestly have no idea. All the information I was given was under the auspices of believing Sonny existed, and was always framed as Sonny’s story. At this point, I can’t say what I’ve been told was true or not, or maybe even somewhere in between.
Regarding bullying/abusive behavior, the only thing I’ve read myself is the confessions posted on the #SHConfessions thread on Twitter (https://twitter.com/sweetsakuradoll). If you scroll down, the screenshots are of the confessions themselves. I didn’t know about any of this happening, and to know it was occurring horrifies me. But if you ask me if I think you should believe those confessions, yes, I do. I’m very sorry to have to say that, because that means so much pain has been happening for so long, but despite not having had any knowledge of those situations occurring, I have many reasons to believe what they’re saying is true. The biggest reason is because when I ran across it, I was startled to see that parts of their stories were like reading something I had written myself.
If you want more information on any of this, you can read my much longer post. You can find it to read online or download in pdf at http://aisylum.com/statement_2018_Ais.pdf. Some friends recommended I pdf it instead of putting it as a blog post for ease of reading.
Part of the reason I couldn’t seem to get anything coherent out faster than a week and a half is I have nearly 16 years of knowledge I’ve had to undo in the course of a few days. It’s been surreal and so confusing and it brought up all sorts of things from the past I hadn’t thought about in years. Frankly, things I didn’t really want to have to think about again. I found old journal entries that reminded me of how unstable I was at different times, how unhappy I was, how often I doubted myself in big and small ways. There were so many things I never planned to talk about publicly, simply because I didn’t want to hurt anyone, and I thought that if I talked about all those difficult times, that was exactly what I would be doing.
Additionally, it’s extremely stressful to me to talk about anything I hadn’t planned to share publicly. Writing this, and especially posting it, is difficult. The way I cope is through humor and avoidance. Avoidance won out for years, and right now it’s fighting a hard battle once again. If I disappear for a bit or suddenly start talking excitedly about things I love, I’m not trying to be rude and it isn’t because none of this affects me or I don’t care. It’s quite the opposite. It’s simply me maintaining my internal balance through the coping mechanisms I’ve developed over the years.
Please know the reason I’m saying any of this isn’t to make any of this about me, it’s simply that I feel like I need to apologize for being unable to get something out sooner, and the only way I know how to do that fairly is to explain why it took so long.
I want to sincerely thank everyone who supported me both publicly and privately since this all came out. I greatly appreciate it; you are the reason I could get anything out even this soon, because you told me it was okay to take my time. Thank you so much for your understanding. I can’t tell you enough how much it meant and continues to means to me.
I’m so sorry to anyone who has been hurt in any of this. I wish I had known, I wish I could have helped, I wish I had been capable of somehow stopping anything. I talk more about it in the longer post but I’ve felt guilty since all of this broke, feeling like somehow this has to be my responsibility because I knew Sonny for longest online. Somehow, I need to take on this responsibility, find a way to help, find a way to make up for it to others. But I have to be fair to myself in a way that’s always been incredibly difficult for me. I have to acknowledge that I’m not responsible for the actions of others, especially when I didn’t know about it and never would have condoned it. I tried helping so many times over the years, and I was usually so unsuccessful. I thought I was trying to help a friend who was a victim of bullying and harassment, who was caught in endless self-destructive cycles he couldn’t seem to escape. It turns out a lot of what I was told was at the very least misrepresentative, and in some cases possibly outright lies.
I’m very sorry to everyone who is disappointed by this news, who believed in Sonny like I did and now has to question so much. I can’t speak for him (or, I guess, them); I don’t know what was going on all this time, or why. I don’t hate him/them, because it’s just too much energy for me, because at this point I just feel more tired than anything, because I would rather continue to try to put positive into the world to counteract any negative, but I understand that others will feel differently, and I understand that they may feel so with varying intensity.
I feel incredible sympathy for anyone who has been negatively affected by any of this. I truly hope you have been able to reach out to your support systems, and I hope you have gotten the support you need from them.
As for In the Company of Shadows, if you were someone who loved it and now can’t stand to think of it, as exceedingly sad as it will make me to know that all of this has affected something you loved, I want you to know that I understand. I don’t want anyone to be hurt further than has already happened. Thank you for the time and energy you put into your love of it in the past, and I hope you can find something to balance this heartbreak so you can feel empowered moving forward. If you are someone who can still love the series despite all this in the background, then please know, for whatever it’s worth, I myself continue to love ICoS, I continue to love the world, the characters, the story. Thank you for your kindness and patience, and thank you for continuing to believe in the story despite everything else that has happened. If you continue to have questions about the series, what the characters might think/do, feel free to ask me any time. I’m still happy to discuss the series if anyone needs it, I just might not be able to answer some questions related to characters which are not mine.
I’m very sorry, regardless, that any of this had to be a discussion point at all.
I wish Sonny (whoever it was) had told me the truth from the start, or told me at any point along the way, because maybe some of this could have been avoided. Instead, I truly believed in him right up into Friday March 9, and had to learn the truth when he posted it online. I can’t say I’m sorry I believed in a friend of 15 years, because I don’t think that’s inherently a bad thing. But I am sorry I didn’t know, because maybe, somehow, I could have helped everyone.
If you never read anything else from me, because you’re too raw from all of this, I understand. Please, then, let these be my last words to you: please take care of yourself, and please don’t let the actions of others cause you to stop believing in other people. Or yourself.
The below post was originally written October 27, 2012, on my Goodreads blog. I’m posting it here on my wordpress blog now in case anything ever happens to my Goodreads account, so I don’t lose it.
First, I should clarify my previous entry: I posted that I might be absent because I hadn’t been on social media for about a month already and I didn’t want anyone trying to contact me and thinking I was ignoring them. So just FYI in general, if I ever seem to be ignoring you I probably just didn’t see it. I go in waves of being involved on social media and taking a break, because I’m an introvert so sometimes social media feels too, well, social for me. But my email (firstname.lastname@example.org) is where you can always find me.
On to the main point of this post:
I love Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show. Is that what this post is about? Not at all, actually, except that youtube clips of her show are some of the things that first got this topic going in my mind and over the weeks it’s been snowballing. Especially after I read Unbearable Lightness. And especially after I’ve been reading some book reviews that have pointed out some pervasive negative themes in stories.
And that is this: all too often, people are made to feel like crap just for being who they are. All too often, people are bullied. All too often, societal expectations exceed what should realistically be asked of anyone. And all too often, it’s easy for people to fall into a state of depression or unhappiness as a result.
If this topic stands out to you as something you have experienced in your life– recently or long ago– first I want to say this to you:
I’m sorry that people or society failed you. I’m sorry that you were ever made to feel less than perfect as you are. I’m sorry that you were ever hurt.
What we all need to remember is that gender identity, sexual orientation or lack thereof, age, body shape, ethnicity– none of these things MATTER. None of these things say anything about the person themselves. How much money you have to your name doesn’t matter, whether you have a prestigious title or you’re a peon like the rest of us–
It doesn’t MATTER.
What matters is who you are.
What matters is what you do.
What matters is you make up for it if you make a mistake and stand strong when you don’t.
What matters is you help others if they’re down.
What matters is you won’t let someone be hurt in front of you if you have the opportunity to do something to stop it.
What matters is you care.
Not everyone can express themselves in the same way. Some people (like myself) really don’t like confrontation. Some people do. Some people feel more comfortable on the sidelines and some people like to stand out as the hero. Some people really care but are too shy or uncertain to say anything and some people care so much that they are continually brash or headstrong.
We are all different and that’s okay. One person’s way of life is not better than another’s; they’re just different.
We are also all alike and that’s okay. We’re all human and we make mistakes, we get scared or angry, we get uncertain or indignant. We say things we don’t mean and mean things we don’t say. We speak up too early or too late and miss opportunities to make a difference at the right time.
It’s okay. You’re okay.
You have to be yourself, that’s the most important thing. Beyond that, it’s a work in progress. Sometimes, even being able to BE yourself is a work in progress, because who you are might be something that causes you to be the target of negativity. In some places, just being who you are could be lethal or extremely dangerous. So if you have to hide for your own safety, that’s okay.
You aren’t a terrible person for being yourself and you aren’t a terrible person if you can’t BE yourself because circumstances force you into hiding.
Maybe there’s no one else out there who ever feels that way but I know I did when it came to the idea of coming out.
I felt like I was flawed and wrong for not being “normal” like so many other people. I felt like I was defective. I feel like I have to hide who I am in some circumstances but in others I can be forthright. Constantly being on guard and having to consider context before comments can be stressful and, at times, distressing. Even just a couple of weeks ago I felt that distress rather clearly, and at the time what made me feel better was people telling me this:
It’s okay. You’re not alone. You’re not wrong. There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re okay.
I’ve been thinking about it and I feel very strongly about saying the same thing to others. Because one thing that Youtube has reinforced to me is that people can be wonderful, but they can also be incredibly callous; they can be rude and spiteful and sometimes downright vindictive or mean. They can bully others because of their opinion, or insult entire continents, countries or cultures for something they don’t even understand. They can rush headlong down a path that will end in heartache for someone, and it could be that they don’t care or it could be that they just don’t understand.
Because words are powerful, and they can build a person up but they can also break a person down.
So please take these words as much to heart as you may have ever been depressed by negative ones:
You are beautiful. You are handsome. You are a good person. You are and can be loved. You deserve to be. You deserve good things. You deserve happiness as much as anyone else.
I don’t care what your ancestry is or where you live, I don’t care what your body shape is or whether you meet the impossible ideals that may be set forth by your society. I don’t care if the gender you identify with matches the gender you were born with. I don’t care if you’re asexual, homosexual, bisexual, heterosexual, or any other variation beyond. I don’t care what you believe politically, religiously, culturally, or whether you don’t believe anything at all.
I don’t care because all I need to know is that you’re there.
We may spend time on a virtual world of social media and websites and intangible ideas made visual, with our words spelled out on a screen and not spoken by voice. We may never meet in person and may not recognize each other even if we were in the same room.
But it doesn’t matter.
Because when I sit down and type to a screen, I know that a human being is on the other side of that communication. I know that out there, you get upset, you get happy; you get excited, you get down; you get curious, you get resigned.
You have a range of emotions like I do, and you have a life like I do, and you’re a human being like I am. And I know that because of that you’re important, and I know that because of that you deserve a chance at happiness and inherent respect the same as the rest of us.
Scientists currently estimate there are 8.7 million different species on the planet, and 7 billion humans.
There are a lot of us out there, and with such a large number maybe it does mean that there is a percentage that will hurt others without regard. Maybe it does mean that there is a percentage for a lot of variations, but that also mean there’s bound to be a percentage out there like you.
If you’re ever hurt, if you’re ever sad, if you ever feel alone in what you’re going through, remember that even if you’re in a vast minority, even if less than 1 percent of the world’s humans are like you, that is still up to 70 million people.
Remember that even if someone hurts you, there are others who won’t and who only want to help you. Remember that even if you’re sad, there are others who would want to make you happy. Remember that even if you ever feel weak or scared or vulnerable, it’s okay to process those feelings and it’s okay to take a break, but when you’re ready to come back there are others who will stand by your side.
Maybe these people aren’t always evident or easy to find. Maybe there are a lot of things that keep going wrong. Maybe you’re tired of fighting. It’s okay. You’re okay. You’re not wrong to have emotions and you’re not wrong to need time to work through them.
But you aren’t alone.
Because no matter what else may change, we’re all human. And with 7 billion of us in the world and counting, there’s bound to be someone out there who understands.
THAT is what matters.
That is all that ever mattered.
Seriously considering doing an assessment or walk-in to a program that helps with eating disorders. I no longer need help getting anorexia under control in terms of starving myself, but now I’ve run into the problem of not knowing how to safely lose weight to feel healthier and happier, without resorting to the means I used before, and without letting myself go beyond an actually healthy level.
I’ve only gotten professional help one time, and even then it wasn’t actually about the ED. I was talking about other things but realized in that session that maybe I did have a problem. But that was a very brief experience in college, and after that I dealt with everything completely alone. Part of me thinks I would fail if I asked for help, but the larger part of me knows it shows more strength to know when you need help and ask for it than it does to isolate yourself unnecessarily.
This is the reason I post about things like this on and off, because publicly saying I might do a thing makes me more likely to do it or at least not just pass it off immediately in my mind. And there may be other people who read this who are going through the same thoughts, and seeing this may not feel alone.
I just watched To The Bone… it’s a Netflix original movie about a group of people with eating disorders, especially anorexia because that’s what the main character has.
I remember hearing about this before it came out–people saying they thought it would be triggering and/or glamorize EDs, especially anorexia. For me, it wasn’t triggering at all. I didn’t think it glamorized it at all. It just told the story from a perspective rarely seen, in a snippet often glossed over in narratives.
For me, if I had any issues with it at all, it’s one part I can’t reference without a spoiler, but that is more of asexual me responding than anything, and the only other “issue” I would have is I wish it were longer. I would like to see a sequel to this, although I doubt they will make it.
Personally, I didn’t have any issues at all with the ED part of it. I thought overall the movie was quite funny in parts, sad in others, awkward where it was supposed to be awkward, hopeful in other aspects. Just like life. It wasn’t as tectonically moving as I expected it to be for me, but that isn’t because of a failure on the part of the movie.
Actually, I think it’s a good thing. I think this shows that I’ve come a long way since the last time I watched an anorexia-themed movie or show. I think the fact that it didn’t dig emotional claws into me deeper than would any other movie, shows I’ve learned to tell the voice to fuck off, as Dr Beckman says to do in the movie, and it shows that I’ve come far enough that I can watch something like this and see it as the story it is first and foremost, instead of everything bouncing all around my brain worrying about everything else.
I’m not sure if the way I explained that makes any sense…
But then, maybe a reason it doesn’t affect me as strongly is because I never went through therapy or got any sort of help for my issues. And the movie is set almost entirely during therapy. I liked the story a lot, though. I felt like they didn’t try to glamorize or dramatize anything, really. The main character’s story feels like something that could actually happen right now in real life, and I like that.
I still need to release the bits and pieces I’ve written so far about my own struggles with anorexia. I have some parts written. I keep thinking I’ll share some here on my blog, and then I keep not doing it. Not because I mind if people know everything that I cover in it, but because I don’t know the best way to release it without it being super random, or without potentially triggering anyone.
On the other hand, that’s what everyone feared about To The Bone, right? That it would trigger people with EDs. But it didn’t trigger me. Granted, I’m not as deep in anorexia as I used to be, but I don’t think those thoughts ever fully leave one’s mind. It’s all a matter of how you categorize them in your head; the weight you give the weight you have. Every day, I think at least 2-3 times that I would be “better” somehow if I were 30-40 pounds lighter. At least 20. And every day I ultimately dismiss or ignore that thought, or argue against the voice.
The thing is, if you have an ED, if you dealt with anorexia for any significant time, you can’t trust your own eyes, your own opinion. I look in the mirror and what I see may not be what everyone else sees. I think some people think I’m a lot smaller than I am, but maybe I also think I’m bigger than I am. That’s the point, isn’t it? Those numbers, they mean nothing. They’re numbers only, just some digits taken from a scale and set to mind. They’re as arbitrary and subjective as opinions and beauty are.
There is no equation that solves all one’s problems. The only equation is living, and the only solution is continuing to live even when you think you can’t. Because those feelings will ebb and flow over time, like the tide at sea. Sometimes the ocean will recede, back and back and back into the horizon, and it feels like a drought will take over everything we know, and there will never again be water, there will never again be life. But the ocean always returns. The water will always be there again. Sometimes there’s too much water; the tide comes in too fiercely, and it’s not a drought of emotions, now it’s drowning in them, suffocating from an overabundance of something so ubiquitous it becomes inimical to life and living; a silent, unassuming partner for death. But that water, too, will eventually be drawn back out for tide. That water, too, will ebb. And if it goes out too far, if it comes back as a tsunami, it will take much longer to recover. But always, always, it will recede. If only you have the willingness and patience to wait for it, or to run and find the place where the tide is out if you don’t.
What is perfect? What is beautiful, or right, or wrong? What is humor? What makes one view of any of these more legitimate than another’s? If there is variation in the way humans view these things, why can there not be variation in how we see ourselves? Internally, on our own; a variegated, carbon-dated archaeological dig into our own self-view, self-worth, self-confidence, self-pity, just Self.
We all have stories we want to tell, and other stories we don’t. The dark stories we may not hide for any reason other than because they are hidden even from us, even though we may still feel them. Sick and slick and a dark balm on the soul. Something that feels like it’s helping us, healing us, but is hurting us, harming us; the slow dance down to a self-prescribed -cide, the only question being which it is. Suicide, homicide, fratricide, and more.
But why does that have to be the only end? Stories only start and end where you say. Give your story a little longer, and the line you choose to end on may give an entirely different meaning than even the one before it. Or the one after. We can’t choose what happens to us, we can’t always even choose how we react to what happens. But we can choose how we see that story, or how we make the story see us.
This world is not here to be perfect for you, so you don’t have to be perfect for the world.
You know… I write posts like this, and then I think about posting them, and sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. Do the words make sense? Am I conveying what I meant, or saying something unintentional that I don’t mean? Do I mean it after all and just didn’t know or realize?
Now when I think about anorexia, it makes me philosophical. Because inevitably it leads me to thinking about subjectivity. There was a time I thought the world was much more divided than it really is, as strange as that may sound given how divisive the norm has become.
But I believed in extremities. I don’t mean I believed extremities exist–of course they do–I mean, I saw the world in either/or fashion more than mediation. Black or white, right or wrong, good or evil. It wasn’t always that cut and dry, it wasn’t always that dismissive, but it was there. I didn’t believe solely in those concepts, because I’d lived so much of my life outside the norm. But maybe what I thought was accepted was only those extremities. Maybe I thought that to the general world, the general population, I only existed when my natural flow overlapped one of those pools of thought. Everywhere else, I was an in-between, a nothingness that existed because it breathed, but did not exist because it didn’t live the way it was supposed to.
And that was part of it, wasn’t it? “Supposed to” — an expectation, inexorable, unspoken but unavoidable, a question in every breath and a thought in every mind. That which we are expected to do, that which we are required. Being born so different, maybe on some level I thought it was my duty to align in some ways whenever I could, to give meaning to my life, maybe, or maybe to give context for myself.
I get philosophical because I think about all the things I thought, and all the things I think now, and they aren’t so different, honestly; I’ve always been pretty similar in some ways. But the way I see those thoughts is what has changed. I think.
The question is this: whose voice do you listen to, when you can listen to only one?
Is it the voice that tells you over and over you aren’t enough, you have to be more or less or better or different?
Is it the voice of others, not understanding or not trying, an accidental dismissal of everything you own and know and are?
Is it the voice of those who do understand, who do try, but don’t know the words to fix it, because they think they have to do the fixing even when they don’t?
Is it the voice inside, perilous and quavering and oh so uncertain about everything?
Is it the voice even deeper inside, quiet and questioning, unwilling to accept the status quo, unwilling to accept this is it?
For me, it was that deeper voice that made me always stop just before it went too far. That deeper voice that, for years, led to nights I cried alone, hushing my voice so the tears tracked my cheeks but even my gasps were silenced so I wouldn’t disturb anyone else. That deeper voice that would not let me accept the louder voices. That deeper voice that refused to give up on me.
If you were to ask what any of this means, what any of this matters, I couldn’t tell you. It’s just the thoughts I have when I watch movies like To The Bone. The philosophy that emerges when that deeper voice rises to the surface, once more discontent with the silence, once more questioning all that I thought I knew, and everything I accepted since the last time we conversed.