Feels Like Falling / by Michelle Cowan

As I watch myself back on the video I am including in this entry, I am reminded of just how awkward watching myself perform is. I started to try to extract the audio so that I could avoid posting the visuals but ultimately decided that it wouldn't be worth the effort. Other people watch me perform all the time; I figure you can take it. But it's odd to see myself from another the other side of the stage.

Anyway, this song, "Falling," was written over a span of a few years. First, I only completed a chorus, until I forced myself to finish out a couple of verses and a bridge about a year and a half ago. I always disliked those verses. Parts of them were enjoyable, but as a whole, they were rather disappointing and, ultimately, annoying. I threw the song in the closet, never to be revisited. It was too painful to play the fun little chorus and then have to endure the awkward stanzas in between.

Nonetheless, the chorus stayed in my head, despite what I think is a soundly unpoetic hook. "Falling into a hole"? Really? But it turns out that that phrase describes exactly what I want it to describe. And this week, I revisited those verses and cleaned them up. Now, the song expresses something special, with pieces written over two years ago combined with what I feel today.

At first, I thought the song was about those moments in life when I feel like giving over to the eating disorder, when I want to let all of my neuroses, depression, and anything else "diseased" take over. I want to sink into bingeing or starving or reclusiveness during those times. The song seemed to center around those periods and the fear, sadness, and anxiety that accompanies them.

Over the years, however, I have observed that many times when I have the feelings I just described, I am not surrendering into the eating disorder. I am surrendering to my feelings. The song is about giving over to something entirely different. It's about a release that leads to something positive and healthy if I allow it to happen.

Participating in eating disorder behaviors is actually not anxiety-provoking at all. It's the feelings that surround it that send me into a tailspin, the feelings that make me turn to the behaviors, the feelings of guilt after I let my eating disorder run wild. All of those emotions cause fear. Disordered behaviors mask emotion and authentic truth.

The most potent feelings of helplessness I've ever experienced have been related to the moments when I allow myself to feel instead of participate in my eating disorder. It's overwhelming to feel incredibly sad, confused, or lonely. The intensity of my need for alone time frightens me at times and feels dangerous, even though it may ultimately be healthy.

Now, I've learned that it's okay to sink now and then into despair. I always reemerge. It's okay to spend introspective time alone for long stretches. Likewise, it's perfectly fine to dismiss all of my obsessive thoughts and do FUN things, even when there are certain tasks I feel I HAVE to accomplish. It's okay to go out and waste time alone or with others, even when laundry or other obligations loom. It's okay to come home from work and relax instead of pay my bills immediately.

Nonetheless, all of the "necessary" tasks generally need to be completed, and knowing this can result in incredible anxiety and indecisiveness. It's hard to let myself be. But it's necessary. It's essential to let go of everything sometimes and allow life to flow through me. I may cry, I may laugh, I may shut the blinds for a while and revel in solitude. The more I can associate these activities with things other than the eating disorder, the easier it is to do them without guilt. I can enjoy myself without food (even though I can also enjoy myself with it). I can feel sad and not try to shove it away with a binge or an eight mile run.

I can surrender to my intuition and do what I feel instead of what I think I should do. The release is scary sometimes and feels like falling without a net.

Those are the thoughts for today, accompanied by "Falling," the little song I'd like to share with you today. All my best ~