It would be the spirit of competition that would bring me back to blogging. What else could possibly create such forcible motivation than the drive to rise above the rest, the determination to push past the limitations others set for us, or the ones we impose upon ourselves?
But as I sit here, reveling in the rush that I feel when I take the stage and deliver a performance that brings the audience smiles, laughter, or tears, I am reminded of a similar swell: the kind that hooks you and pulls you along for the ride, as you think to yourself, "hey, I could go for more of this..." despite the fact that the hook has pierced you through the mouth and is slowly tearing through you.
Competition has brought me much joy over the years: from soccer and lacrosse rivalries, cross-country and track races, academic achievement, to very recently, singing on stage in the annual Keene Idol competition to benefit Monadnock Society for AIDS/HIV. But the spirit of competition, fickle beast that she is, wielding her double-edged sword, has also brought me sickness, weakness, depression, and pain.
Everyone loves a winner. Everyone loves an underdog - a name for one from whom no one could possibly fathom much of anything, least of all the unexpected, or out of character. Who would have forseen the girl surrounded by a doting family, a jungle of friends, teammates and classmates alike, always smiling, always laughing, always achieving, breaking down under the weight of her own insecurities. The girl with the greatest support network falling through the cracks of her own mind. No one expected an eating disorder, of all things, to tear her down.
As competition would have it, I WOULD be the skinniest, the prettiest, the most desirable; the one whispered about in hushed voices as she passed - not dull or plain, no! I would STAND OUT. And I did. Not so much like a sore thumb than as an emaciated pinky finger. I WAS the skinniest. They DID whisper in hushed voices as I passed by. But there is nothing pretty, or desirable, about a skeleton. Nothing fantastically attractive about swollen salivary glands and cheeks, tearing eyes, rancid lips and tongue that have felt the bite of bile 7 times that day. There is nothing inspiring about a girl who hides behind the reflection in the mirror and measures her self worth by the size of her clothes.
This girl was me, or the hollow shell of what had once been "me." The very drive to be what all the magazines and movies boast as "beautiful" had driven away the ones I loved: had driven me right out of myself. I was happy to let the beast of "Ed" (eating disorder) inhabit my body, as long as I didn't have to confront him. For 7 years, I cowered. Occasionally, I've found an ounce or two of resolve and stood to face my demons, only to feel the weight of their girth, and would retreat, outnumbered, to the corner of my mind where I was allowed to live, in fear.
But today, I am fighting. Battles are won and battles are lost, but in my war, I am winning. Simply by taking a stand on the battlefield, I cut away some of ropes that have bound me. And I do not stand alone. Others who have fought battles like mine stand with me, and others fight with me just because they care. The stranger who compliments me on my voice after a performance fights with me, because she or he has loaded my cannon with one more reason why I don't need "Ed" to stand out, or to be appreciated.
And as I struggle to rediscover who I am, whoever that may be, I find a little piece of her every day, in my voice. When I sing, I feel at home in myself, which is a remarkable feat for someone who has a hell of a time getting comfortable in her own body. The fact that I can even sing at all, considering what I have put my body through, is a miracle in itself. So, aside from the spirit of competition, I'm grateful to have a body that has harbored and healed my spirit, despite my abuse; and here's to many more days and nights of singing - whether on stage or not - and finding who I am.
If you care to, take a look at me finding myself on stage in round 1 of Keene Idol 2014!