Last October, Hallie and I were talking via gchat late one night after Birdie was asleep. It had been a rough day, one of many of the last year. I was exhausted, I was frustrated, and I was feeling like I was running in circles with the eating disorder. One step forward, ten steps back. More than anything, I was feeling so achingly alone that it made me wonder how many other people were out there, struggling like I was and feeling equally alone. So we came up with an idea. What if, we thought, we could try to show people what this is like. Could we possibly create something meaningful out of something so hellish? The seed had been planted and over the next few days, the ideas started to flesh out. The momentum grew and before we knew it, the project had taken off. I started recording audio of whatever I was thinking, as often as I could force myself to do it. When I couldn't sleep, when I had nightmares, when I was so hungry I thought I'd pass out, when I simply didn't know what else to do, I'd take out my phone and hit record. Hallie started taking pictures. Of the easy stuff first - me playing with kids, hanging out with friends, cooking. Then, gradually, of the harder stuff - me trying to eat, crying over Alix, getting on the scale. Meanwhile, life kept happening and things just kept getting harder and harder. The project quickly became more difficult than I could have ever anticipated. The camera was always there. I'd scream at Hallie to put it away, to leave me the fuck alone, to get out of my face but she'd say she was sorry, but she knew how important this was to both of us, and she'd take the pictures anyway. I stopped censoring myself in the audio even the slightest. I said things out loud that made me shake with shame, but instead of shutting up, I kept talking. Sometimes the roles would mysteriously flip: "Where's the camera?" I would snarl through the tears and snot running down my face, and Hallie, stricken, would slowly reach for the lens while I would stare defiantly at her, daring her to look away. Or she'd silently hand me my phone and send me off to the closet or the bathroom or the sidewalk to find enough quiet to record what my mind was churning out.
It wasn't easy. In fact, it was the opposite of easy. But here we are, seven months later, and last night...we finished. Almost. There are some finishing touches and some tweaks here and there, but I honestly never thought this day would come. I never thought we'd be able to sift through literally thousands of pictures and hours of recorded audio and cut and edit them down into a coherent project, but somehow, we did. And when we showed it to her professor today, my hands twisted together with nerves while he silently watched and we waited to hear what he thought. "That," he said slowly when it ended, "was fucking incredible."
I don't know where it's going to go from here, but I sure hope it goes somewhere. More than anything, I hope that someone will see it and realize that they're not alone. If it helps even one person, then it will have been worth it.