Mandela had it wrong- this is my biggest fear

Bodies never lie, but they don’t always speak either.

Today is a sad day.  I am stressed out like crazy trying to nail down an apartment which I notice subtly contributing to my health or unhealthy habits. More than that, some pretty devastating new came in yesterday; my friend’s Dad passed away from a heart attack, completely unexpected. He was a type-two diabetic but really doing a great job with it (putting me to shame- whenever I would go over to her house and see his blood sugar meter in the bathroom I would feel a pang of guilt if I knew I had skipped a shot that day).

I know it sounds commonplace to have a wake-up when a death occurs around you. Did I have one? sort of. I immediatly was inspired to check my blood sugar which was actually 125, meaning in the good range. I can usually guess my bs pretty well but I’ve been sleeping so badly lately that I tent to always feel like crap, and I have such a history of high blood sugars from attempting to control my weight by skipping insulin that I can easily go up to 300 without noticing a thing. I remember seeing an “ER’ episode where a diabetic came in to the hospital with a bs of about 260, and all I could think was ‘oh please, I’m twice that right now and I feel..well, not good, but I’m living’. I had grown so accustomed to the symptoms of a high blood sugar that I was able to sort-of function while slowly (or not-so slowly) killing myself.

Even after years and years of therapy, I have a hard time figuring out where my obsession with body image comes from; you can pinpoint dance or the media all you want, but when it comes down to it, I don’t buy magazines and I took long enough away from being in a leotard to know that I freak out about my size and shape when I’m at home alone with the t.v. off. Everyone says these kinds of addictions (alcohol, drugs, eating disorders, ect) are a way to deal with an underlying pain so I’m wondering what exactly I’m substituting for.

Without divulging tmi, I had my fair share of bad experiences in life, the kind that should you look at a timeline of my life, would stand out as probably the most devastating events to occur and therefore the most scarring. Honestly though, I think the most hurtful thing ever SAID to me actually came from the most influential teacher I have ever had, the director of Dance at Interlochen Arts Academy, the arts boarding school I attended for 1/2 of my sophmore and half of my junior year of high school.

One might think hearing about an evil thing said by a dance teacher, and my going on and on about body hatred that she said something with regards to my size. Nope. Things had been actually going well for me- I had everyone convinced that I was doing better health-wise, I was making good grades, had wonderful friends, and was just cast in still at this point, one of my favorite pieces of all time (choreographed by the director herself).The teacher and I had weekly meetings where she would just ask how things were going with me since I had such a hard time the year before when I had to leave in the middle of the year because it got out that I had a raging eating disorder as well as problems with my diabetes. So this teacher took a sort of special interest in me.  One day as the dancers were stretching before class, she called a few individuals into her office one at a time (which was pretty common- she liked to check up on people) and then a meeting was called for all the rest of us. She had decided  that she was going to retire from Interlochen at the end of the year, which to me meant that my senior year, I would lose not only a huge majority of my best friends who were one year above me, but also a teacher whom I felt extremely close to and inspired by. There were a good amount of tear-stained faces in the meeting but no one lost it like I did. I mean LOST IT- almost to the point of hyperventilating. Immediately after the meeting, she took my hand and brought me into her office and here is what she said:

“I didn’t expect you to react like this”

The people she had individually called in were the students who she thought would take the news very hard and need to hear it alone. I was not one of those students, meaning she had no idea how much I cared about her. My health declined (by my own fault) pretty quickly after that, I actually remember very specifically what happened, and it included me skipping a day’s worth of insulin and therefore being super-thirsty and drinking really sugary juice at the valentine’s day dorm party, going to bed, waking up in the middle of the night feeling sick and passing out in the bathroom, hitting my head pretty hard on the sink on the way down. I think that’s how my suitmates and roommate found me. Off to the hospital, then off to St. Louis, having once again been kicked out for medical reasons.

I wrote the teacher a goodbye card that basically said everything I wished she had known, including that I thought of her as my Mom because of how much she looked out for me, how much it meant to me to think I was special to someone who I respected so much. (I must apologize to my parents because they, in their attempts to keep me healthy by removing me from school and all the uncomfortable times of forcing me to do my shots in front of them, or therapy or everything that I put them through I didn’t want to let go of my eating disorder and the roadblock in between the addiction and the addicted always bears the worst burden. I told my parents on more than one occasion- brutally- how much I hated them to the point that, to this day, they are terrified of me. I am certain of this because after I left Jersey and moved back into their house in saint Louis for 5 months, days would go by without communication. this was a time when I had quit my job, was taking time away from dance, was unhealthy again and doing nothing with my life except going to therapy. A few words of encouragement or even asking how i was doing would have went a long way. My house is old and echoes a lot, and there was one day that was particularly bad, and I was feeling hopeless about ever getting better and over my problems and I purposely left my bedroom door open while I sobbed unctrollably hoping that my parents, who were downstairs watching the news, might at some point ask if I was ok, or even wait until the crying subsided and ask later. Something. being invisible in whatever pain you’re going through is the worst. Actually, The worst is thinking that I, like I  must have been in high school, like my parents on that day- am totally incapable of expressing love.

I have been in New York for over a month and my family has yet to call me once. I know they are trying to ‘respect my space and privacy’ but it is hitting me pretty hard. My family are the kind of people who don’t say ‘I love you’ on the phone unless I say it first. They wait for me to call them. It makes me (in my snotty immature way) to completely cut them out of my life as punishment for showing zero interest in me, no matter what their intentions. I forget who said it but someone wise said, ‘there is no love, there is only proof of love’.I’m not really afraid that I’m not loved, or incapable of love, I’m just afraid that it’s the one thing I’m not good at being outspoken about.

We can’t anticipate the silent killers, the tragic events. Sometimes we are lured into a false sense of security, like my living day to day with high blood sugars that to me, didn’t feel so bad. I kept thinking, ‘yeah my sugar is bad now, but I will lose weight by not taking my insulin and feel better about myself and then it won’t be so hard to take the medicine I need TO LIVE’ (stupid? yes). I found myself last wednesday, walking to dance class, thinking ‘i’m not ready to go back and be around dancers and wear a leotard- i need to lose weight before I go back in’, when trying to starve myself and being too tired to go for a run or even leave my apartment, like what happened to me last weekend, isnt making me feel so great- plus I miss dance now ad why should i put it off any more because I’m afraid of what some strangers will think? Also, the two best dancers in my class weren’t people that I would pin as ‘dancers’ if I saw them on the street, so that’s good news, that maybe my ideal of ‘good dancers’ is more centered around the movement than the body at this point. You just have to face your fears, or rejection or feeling stupid- and that takes so much courage. I know it probably isn’t easy for my family to put aside years of my acting like a petulant hateful child (I was!). It wasn’t until about two weeks before I moved here that I actually had a talk with my Dad about how it bugged me a lot that they hadn’t shown more interest in me while I was home and there was a little difference and more communication before I left. But since I flat out told them that I wanted their support and them in my life, I don’t think they have any excuse for why they can’t call me. Voicemail was invented for a reason! The powers of text are beyond them, so as i said in my last post, I don’t think I’m asking too much.

Maybe I’m just an attention whore. Scratch that, I AM an attention whore. Is that really too much from your family though? Maybe my expectations are too high, or maybe I’m making myself to be something more special or important that I really am. I don’t understand why they don’t seem to take more of an interest, and here I am calling them cowards when really, maybe I’m just not that interesting.

I’d rather be told that I’m not interesting that ignored. (keep that in mind, my dear commenters!)

I don’t know if this will just annoy everyone reading, if it comes out preachy or angry or immature. If so, I apologize. It probably is all of those things, and if no one liked it, I’m just hoping my parents read it and GET THE HINT to please stop being afraid of intruding my space or whatever it is you’re so afraid of. It is kind of scary for me to post this- it takes a lot of courage to say when you care about something I don’t even know if this was good for me to write, it’s making me think about all of the people who have slipped in and out of my life without probably knowing that they’ve meant a lot to me. I guess since I’ve felt so profoundly hurt by facing that with my teacher, and now seeing a tragic death occur, and the fact that after I got the news, I tried to call my family and got the voicemail and no one has called me back, I feel compelled to be outspoken- If you have the guts to say what’s in your heart then say it, because those guts and heart and ability to speak are temporary and you may not have another day.

5 thoughts on “Mandela had it wrong- this is my biggest fear

  1. Jess this made me cry and wish that we had talked to each other more when we danced together. My struggles with my health issues the previous year are nothing compared to what you go through with diabetes, but I feel like it would have been nice to talk with someone instead of keeping it all in and acting like it was all okay. And I understand not wanting to take class… I’ve been teaching the past year and I’m allowed to take class with them whenever I want… but I don’t want those girls to see me in a leotard.. or out of shape. What would they think of me?! But I miss it a lot too… 😦

  2. Wow. I am so utterly shocked and surprised to hear all of this. I suppose when we knew each other I was blissfully unaware of your struggles and I wish that I would have opened my eyes a bit. I think sometimes we get lost in our own world, and forgot that their are others around us who may be hurting, as well. You were always the one who I looked up to, with your uncanny ability to crack the right joke at the right moment to your beautiful dancing. I truly thought of you as a big sister and loved spending time with you (and lusting after Harry Potter with you!) I remember when I found out about your diabetes, and I cried and cried for you, knowing it was going to be a struggle, but I never knew how much. I wish I could have been there for you… I hope you know that you are not alone in these fears or struggles. I, as well, have dealt with my fair share of similar feelings… Stay strong, my dear, you have so much to offer.

  3. Alexis- Kevin wiltz and i were just talking about you the other day, how incredibly gorgeous and talented you are. if you want to go back, do it. and you had your fair share of health troubles, our problems were just opposite- yours were really frustrating because for a long time they couldn’t figure out what was going on with you and with me, I knew what I had and what was expected and couldn’t make myself do what was necessary to be healthy. But I agree, we should have spent less time quoting family guy and more time supporting each other. Its never too late, keep me posted if you ever need a friend, you have my number.
    Kirstie- you went off to PNB and I was at IAA- so you never really saw my ‘fall from grace’. I’m so honored to hear that you looked up to me at all- i was always threatened by your talent but loved you as a person- it was a tricky combo for a petty petty person like me! I”m so happy to reconnect- and people say the internet is evil. Time-waster yes, bringing wonderful people like you back into my life, also yes.

  4. I still don’t know how to comment on this post. I think maybe it is too deep for my comprehension. I don’t know if I have become so boring that I don’t have thoughts of my own or if I have been reading way too much microbiology, anatomy and physiology and nutrition so that the only thoughts in my head are: some bacteria are surrounded by a capsule but others just have a slime layer….penicillin would not be an effective antibiotic treatment for gram-negative bacteria because their peptidoglycan cell wall is bonded to an extra protective outer plasma membrane….and the absorption of dietary iron is enhanced by vitamin C, but diminished by calcium, so my calcium-enriched orange juice, though rich in vitamin C, is not helping my iron status.

    I’m sure that I am becoming nearly impossible to live with (due to my annoying factoids about microbes and vitamins), but you are welcome to come live in AZ with me to escape the gloom of the big city. We can look at cacti, hike mountains and hunt scorpions together! And you would not need to worry about a vitamin D deficiency, which would help your absorption of calcium and therefore reduce your chances for osteoporosis.

    Love you!

  5. Jess,
    I almost just cried reading that. Now I want to hug you. This is so sad and so beautiful and honest at once.
    In the spirit of telling people what they mean to you, I need to tell you what a good friend you were in college. Even though we never spent a ton of time together outside the studio, I always felt that you understood me. I mean, really understood me. Better than a lot of people who spent more time with me. Knowing that my motivations and emotions made sense to someone always made me feel less alone.
    And I guess that’s the best we can do for each other sometimes. So always know that you’re not alone; that your friends, as you can see from these replies, understand you; and that every human being can fathom some degree or kind of self-destruction. Love you, Jess.

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