Browsing Tag

control

Eating Disorders/Healing, Eating/Food, Guest Posts

A Binge To Remember

December 1, 2016
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TW: This essay discusses eating disorders.

By Jenna Robino

I am 20. I live in a one bedroom apartment all by myself, right next to LAX. I’m practically a terminal I’m so close. It’s my sophomore year at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. I am a theater major. No minor. I have no idea what I want to do after college, I just like acting and playing different characters. In high school my graduating class voted me “most likely to be on SNL,” so I decided I’d stick with it, and here I am.

Let me close my window. They’re double-sided because of the noise from the planes. Yeah, that black stuff is from the exhaust. I’m sure it’s going to cause some sort of health problem down the road.

One of the reasons I live here, by myself, is because I have a problem. At night, I turn into a food hungry monster and no one’s food is safe. When I had roommates, living in the campus dorms, I would sneak into their rooms when they weren’t there and steal food: handfuls of cereal, candy, a granola bar. If there was one of anything, of course I didn’t take it. I was a thoughtful thief. Whatever I scored, I’d bring back to my top bunk, stick in a container and hide under my pillow. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Vulnerability

Letting Go

September 2, 2016
control

By Alejandra Brockmann

I am controlling.

I like to know where my life is going. I like stability. I always have plan B. I prefer to have a job with a steady income per month. I like to have money in my bank account. I am attracted to men that will not break my heart.

Having control makes me feel safe, loved, and empowered. I know it is a false sense of love and empowerment, but still knowing this, it is difficult to surrender it. It’s like comfort food, or a hot coffee in the morning, I just can´t seem to let it go.

I don´t remember much about my childhood, but I remember feeling unsafe in the world. My parents fought a lot; I imagine that had something to do with it. The year I was born, my father was studying his MBA with a debt growing everyday. He couldn´t afford a baby in that moment, but my mother disagreed, so I was born. She tends to get her way; control runs in the family.

I was 28 when I married, and three years later I got pregnant. I decided that my pregnancy was going to be perfect; perfect for me involves biking, eating sushi, and not listening to my doctors, as I never do. I don´t like doctors, don´t trust them. I know how this may sound, but I thought I could create my entire reality however I wanted it. I was wrong.

After 8 months of pregnancy, I planned my birth. I had very clear and specific goals and requests. Here were the main points:

  1. Calm ambient, soft music.
  2. Natural birth (no epidural).
  3. Hold my baby after birth; bonding with both parents is crucial.
  4. Stay at home during labor, but go to the hospital for birth.
  5. No drugs for the baby, or for me, unless its an emergency.

Additionally, I had a serious conversation with my unborn baby. I asked Alex to be born before or after the actual due date, so that family members coming from Mexico could meet him, but not be present the day of the birth. I wanted to have bonding time just the three of us for at least 1 day.

Everything was ready. I had everything under control. How could anything go wrong?

***My due date was February 13th 2015. I began having contractions the night of February 10th. I was up all night trying to manage the uncontrollable pain, I was sure the baby was coming in the morning. At 6:00 a.m. my doula (a birthing adviser) came to check me.

“You are not in labor. Your body is closed. Go walking and have a normal day,” she said.

Normal day? Normal day?!?!?!?!?!?! Are you kidding me? Yea right! Because she didn´t have a seven-pound baby stuck inside her body.

But ok, I walked, half-dead, but I walked.

The second night came and the pain was worse. She checked me again and told me there was nothing to do, my body simply wouldn´t open, I had to go to the hospital in order to consult with my doctor. I cried on the way feeling frustrated, devastated, exhausted after being kept awake for 2 nights. I thought: How could I have a baby after this? I feel like I had two births already. And I have to push at some point? How? From what I watched in the movies, that was harder than running a marathon. I was so scared.

When I got to the hospital my doctor said,  “Ok, you tried your natural way, it didn´t work. Now its time to try my way.”

“But what are you going to do?” I replied.

“I am going to break your water and give you Oxytocin to induce labor. You have to let me do things my own way ok?”

“Ok,” I replied. But internally I kept asking myself how could everything have gotten so out of control?

After breaking my water, 24-hours passed, but I never dilated, so I had to have a C-Section. My doctor rolled my bed to the operation room. I saw the lights on the ceiling passing one by one. I cried the whole way, feeling like I failed my baby and myself.

In the operation room, everything was white. There were more than eight people there. Why were there so many people? I thought. They were speaking loudly, about ordinary topics. One doctor with glasses was saying that he was going to play golf on Sunday. They were acting like I was not there— like they didn´t see me. I felt invisible.

I asked the doctor if I could hold my baby as soon as they got him out. But the doctor replied, “That is not an option, we are in the OR and our only concern is the safety of you and the baby. We will check him first.” He said it so casually. He could not understand that he was taking away my moment of bonding with my baby. He was taking the baby´s first experience in this world. Instead of feeling the warmth of his mother´s chest, he was going to be examined by a bunch of stupid white-coated doctors.

In that moment, I lost it; I experienced my first panic attack. The anesthesiologist screamed at me “Stop moving!” and then to my doctor “Doctor can you control your patient please?”

I couldn´t breath, I couldn´t stop shaking and crying, I couldn´t speak. I wanted to tell them to wait, so I could convince them. I knew I could convince them; but it was too late; my baby was already on his way out to the world. I heard him cry, the most beautiful sound I have ever heard. I didn´t know babies could cry so beautifully, all the other babies cry horribly. My heart slowed down, my breath became normal again, I couldn´t do anything else now, but surrender.

After checking him to make sure he was healthy and safe, they handed me my son. I hold him on my chest just how I wanted. It stroked me how tiny he was, given the size of my belly. At the beginning he was awake and moving, but after they wrapped him on a blanket he fell asleep, I guess it was a big fight for him too.  That moment was perfect. I was in the recovery room with my baby and my husband, just the way I wanted. I could barely hold him in my arms, I was so tired, but it was beautiful. That perfect moment lasted about 10 minutes. Then all of the sudden, I saw my mom and dad walking towards me.  They were so exited because they had skipped security to get into the recovery room, which of course, was completely forbidden. It was not what I wanted after 10 minutes of having my new baby with me, but at the end, they were my parents and I was very happy to see them. Then ten more people arrived. My whole family and Rodolfo´s family joined us.

Now, it was too much to take— so outrageous, that I couldn´t deal with it. I passed out, completely asleep. The last thing I saw before closing my eyes was my beautiful new baby boy Alex, being passed around like a football while every one of them took a picture holding him. After 15 minutes of coming to this world, when he was supposed to be with his mother and father adjusting to his new environment.

I thought that Alex’s birth was the most horrible and challenging experience I ever had. I was wrong; it got worst. After being sleep deprived for three days, I had to feed the baby every three hours, day and night. We had 10 people in our tiny room for five days waiting to hold the baby. They had come from Mexico, so I could not tell them to go home. I was the mother, the host, the cow, and the wife. In addition to an open wound trying to heal.

I finally went home, and my friends came to visit. Every time I told the story of my birth, I cried. Until one day, I went to my room looking for something. I was sitting in my bed, alone, when I found the cardboards —Every year on my birthday I buy big cardboards and colored sharpies to write my wishes for that year. And there it was, my first wish: “I want a perfect birth.” And I thought: Stupid perfect birth my ass!

In that moment, a thought came to my mind. It was not a normal thought; it was like a whisper coming from within, an intuition from my soul. A very soft but clear question:

What if my birth was indeed perfect?

So I looked at my birth plan and I compared it to reality. I noticed that every single point I requested, happened in the exact opposite way. This was not a coincidence. It was too exact:

  1. No people – Everyone there.
  2. No drugs – 30 hours of drugs.
  3. Calming ambient – 10 people arguing in the OR
  4. Relaxation and love – Panic attack
  5. Fast labor – Three days labor and birth
  6. Baby and mom bonding – No bonding at all.

In that moment, I realized that this was an opportunity to surrender and trust life. I did get “The perfect birth.” Just not the one I expected.

I have a son now; and I have the choice to repeat the same patterns that I experienced when I was a baby. My other choice: Let go and trust. What I want more than anything is for Alex to feel safe in the world in order to be free. Free to find his own path in life; free to make his own mistakes; free to create his own personality; free to find his essence–his soul. As I release myself from my grip I am releasing him.

Today, I strive to love him with an open heart, as I learn to love myself with an open heart.

Because in the end, I ask for perfect, but I don´t know what perfect is. So I choose to let go. I choose to trust. I surrender control.

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Alejandra is a woman and a mother. This essay is her first published work.

Her favorite quote is:

“If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself.
If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself.
Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.”
Lao – Tsu

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Join Jen Pastiloff in Tuscany Sep 17-24, 2016. There are 2 spaces left. This will be her only international retreat in 2016 and is her favorite retreat of the year. Email barbara@jenniferpastiloff.com asap. More info here. Must email first to sign up.

 

Join founder Jen Pastiloff for a weekend retreat at Kripalu Center in Western Massachusetts Feb 19-21, 2016. Get ready to connect to your joy, manifest the life of your dreams, and tell the truth about who you are. This program is an excavation of the self, a deep and fun journey into questions such as: If I wasn’t afraid, what would I do? Who would I be if no one told me who I was? Jennifer Pastiloff, creator of Manifestation Yoga and author of the forthcoming Girl Power: You Are Enough, invites you beyond your comfort zone to explore what it means to be creative, human, and free—through writing, asana, and maybe a dance party or two! Jennifer’s focus is less on yoga postures and more on diving into life in all its unpredictable, messy beauty. Note Bring a journal, an open heart, and a sense of humor. Click the photo to sign up.

Join Jen Pastiloff at her Manifestation Workshop: On Being Human in London Oct 1st and Dallas Oct 22. Click the links above to book. No yoga experience needed- just be a human being! Bring a journal and a sense of humor. See why People Magazine did a whole feature on Jen.

 

Check out Jen Pastiloff in People Magazine!

Check out Jen in People Magazine!

Eating Disorders/Healing, Guest Posts, healing, The Body

Dancing With The Darkness.

February 25, 2015

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By Sian Ewers.

“There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” – Carl Jung

And everything hurts.

It aches. All of it.

Every cell, fiber and atom that makes up my being.

Mind, body and soul thrown into a bowl, mixed, stirred, and formed with hands and words.

I want it all.

I want the bones, the protruding sharp edges, want to feel them beneath my skin, no meat or flesh to cover.

I want the blur, the navy blur of a fuzzy mind that is starving, buzzing with success.

I want the sunken cheekbones; the ones that make my lips look bigger. The ones that make people tell me my eyes look googly.

I want googly eyes.

I want the falling of hair, the outcome, the prize – the proof that I’m winning.

I want my calves to shrink, the muscle to melt and my thighs to never for any reason touch.

I want the pride. The knowing. The pit of my stomach tightness from no food and triumph.

But everything hurts and the control, the power, is the only thing melting now.

 

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being. Yoga + Writing + Connection. We go deep. Bring an open heart and a sense of humor- that's it! Summer or Fall 2015.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being. Yoga + Writing + Connection. We go deep. Bring an open heart and a sense of humor- that’s it! Summer or Fall 2015.

Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Women

On Fainting.

January 13, 2015

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By Jen Girdish.

Fainting is a violent thing to the observer. It’s unsteady footing, whites-of-the-eyes, and limp limbs. It’s a quick fall, a simulation of dying. But to the fainter, it’s like turning down the dial on a radio. The fainter loses hearing, then vision, then to goes to sleep. In some ways, the faint—or syncope—is incredibly compassionate.

I’ve spent the few seconds of a faint in potent and tender dreamstates. I’ve been to my grandfather’s stained glass workshop, pressing the backs of my thighs against the soft benches upholstered in his old flannel shirts. I’ve finally ridden the horse that my father bought me for Christmas—the horse that turned out to be wild and never saddled. I’ve played in a pile of fall leaves with Susan Sontag.

The first time I fainted, I had just pierced my ears at one of those overstocked accessory boutiques at the clean mall. I was eleven or so, and mom finally lost the lobe war. We moved in with my grandmother—a different small town outside of Pittsburgh than the other small town outside of Pittsburgh where we used to live. I lost all my friends, so drilling holes in my ears was the consolation prize.

In our debates over whether to defile my lobes with a 15-gauge needle, my mom often brought up Julianne. Julianne was my mom’s student who ripped apart her ear on the playground with just a chandelier earring and a chain-link fence. I pictured the earring ripping like a tag off a new shirt. Julianne’s ears were my mother’s cautionary tale of growing up too early, of not being happy with you have. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts

Control. By Laura Bogart.

March 23, 2014

image courtesy of Simplereminders.com

image courtesy of Simplereminders.com

Control. By Laura Bogart.

Joy Division was my adolescent love. The wry despondency of Ian Curtis’ lyrics affirmed my teenage suspicions that simply putting one foot in front of the other (as my guidance counselor so helpfully suggested) was a Sisyphean endeavor: “Here are the young men, the weight on their shoulders/Here are the young men, well, where have they been?/We knocked on the doors of Hell’s darker chamber/Pushed to the limit, we dragged ourselves in.”

Then there was the music itself: blunt and muscular, but with a sinewy sharpness that drove me deep, drove me home. It inspired drawings of molten Hellscapes and angels in black leather jackets that I’m glad I’ve lost between moves; what lingered was the sound it gave to the inchoate rage I felt when I heard my father set his briefcase down in the living room, to the dread that hissed through my room when I heard him come up the stairs.

If it were going to be the kind of night he’d apologize for, he’d flip immediately to the weather channel, with its constant promise of Biblical winds and damning rains. I’d steel myself through mindless repetition, re-writing the same lines in my notebook: “I’m ashamed of things I’ve been put through/I’m ashamed of the person I am.”  My redemption, I decided, would be to make art like Curtis’: beautiful yet ugly, wrenching yet effortless. I charcoaled hulking men with haunted eyes. In our quieter moments, the moments I’d cling to when I needed to forgive him, my father would gently open my bedroom door to watch me draw.

“I always wanted to be good at something,” he’d say. His voice belonged to the college lineman who did what his coach said and ran until he puked, but still never got scouted. When I was little, I could forget that he was the man who slapped me for spilling the saltshaker; he was the man who brought me marbled notebooks and prints from the Italian masters. By the time I’d found Joy Division, he was just the middle-aged man who mockingly crooned, “Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it’s off to work I go (damn it)” as he knotted his tie.

“You never make me anything I can frame anymore,” he’d say. “All this dark shit.”

I read about Curtis’ epilepsy; how the twitching, flailing dances that mocked his condition sometimes conjured his fits. “For entertainment, they watch his body twist,” he sang, his voice sharp and sad and thick with regret. “Behind his eyes, he says ‘I still exist.’” Those three words became the essence of art: I lied about how I got those bruises and why the sleepover couldn’t be held at my house, but whatever I put on paper was true.

“You could go into advertising.” That’s what my father said when I told him I’d be getting a master’s in creative writing. He worked with statistics, numbers that had been caged and tamed; for him, work was only meaningful when its purpose was evident. Highway billboards and forty second spots between Monday Night Football and the eleven o’clock news: My livelihood dependent upon oversized ads for oversized sedans that would be forgotten one exit over and cat food jingles that high-schoolers would YouTube until they were just stoned enough to wonder if cat food just, like, tasted like tuna, only, like, spicier.

“There’s a reason,” I said to my father, “That they say ad nauseam.”

Still, those last six months of my grad program turned into a blitzkrieg of resumes. Not writing. When I wasn’t refreshing my email or cold calling under the pretense of “following up,” I was at my kitchen table, drafting columns of bills and the numbers needed to pay them. I’d become my father, scowling over a yellow legal pad and chewing a black ballpoint pen. He’d been the source of so many worries, but a roof over my head hadn’t been one of them.

“Welcome to the real world,” my father said back. “We’re all bored. But we’ve all got bills.”

When a friend asked me if I wanted to see Anton Corbjin’s Ian Curtis biopic, Control, I said I was too broke even for a matinee. That much was true, but it wasn’t the whole truth. That movie poster—a black and white portrait of the spectrally handsome young actor playing Curtis—unsettled me. His eyes are rapacious with hunger; they reminded me of all I’d loved about making art. But his lips are caught between a pucker and a sigh.

I wouldn’t see the movie for a few years, after I’d ended up at a small career consulting company that published magazines to promote its overpriced (and under attended) conferences. Hours of my life ticked away as I inserted semi-colons into the stories of people who were actually doing what they wanted to with theirs.

Channel surfing demanded so much less of me than any kind of art; I lost my lines to the unique state of frazzle and fatigue that a bad workday induces. Though I kept a sketchbook on my lap, I’d only managed the iris of an eye in an hour. I was starting on the lashes when I saw the scene that made me feel as utterly, unequivocally understood as I had when I’d heard the real Ian Curtis wail, “In arenas he kills for a prize/wins a minute to add to his life/But the sickness is drowned out by cries for more/Pray to God, make it quick.”

Curtis is in his living room, lost in the notebook perched on his knees, his face in that soft yet furrowed look of inspiration. His flow is broken when his young wife—who, in those earlier scrappy-love courtship sequences, wore her leather and her faux-fur and her sly spirit of up-for-anything with pride—calls him to bed, but only because he has work in the morning. She’s wearing a housedress that even my thick-ankled Italian grandmother would’ve deemed too frumpy. His expression—resignation (she is right, technically) and frustration (but he was so close to the perfect word)—flickers across his face like a matchstick that won’t quite catch.

My father would call me during our mutual lunch hours. Now that I packed a sack lunch every morning and cursed my way through rush hour traffic, I was no longer a punk kid who needed disciplining. I was someone who could finally understand him: his gripes about assholes who didn’t clean the coffee pot and assholes who made the coffee “like muddy water;” secretaries who didn’t relay messages and bosses who expected you to read their goddamn minds. My father, who used long car rides to expose us to Simon and Garfunkel, Sinatra, and Springsteen because “you can’t get everything you need to out of just one song, you need to hear it all;” my father, who rhapsodized about riding the subway to see Dylan. Back when it was just him: No wife, no children. Just the slow sway of the train thrumming through his body.

“So how’s the job?” he’d ask, and I’d reply that it was, you know, a job. He’d laugh and say, “You’ll get used to it.”

“How’s the boss?” he’d ask. The CEO had the doughy, dumpy build of an overindulged toddler—and the temperament to match. He jokingly (but not really) insisted on being called “boss.” Minutes after he’d fire someone, he’d send out company-wide emails with inspirational quotes: “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there” was a favorite.

“Still a prick,” I’d say.

“He’s the prick who signs your checks.”

When I was a teenager, delusions of grandeur were as much a balm as the Bacitracin my mother rubbed between my shoulders. I was not who my teachers, my bullies, my parents said I was. My molten hellscapes would be in the Guggenheim, and I’d be the star of a cover spread in Poets & Writers analyzing my short fiction (which was filled with serial killers and teenage agorophobics) before my twenty-second birthday. I’ve never asked my father where he thought he’d be at twenty-two, twenty-five, thirty. I’m afraid he’ll say something that will make me see myself in that young man on the subway, humming Guthrie and looking forward to wherever he was going. I don’t want to know all that he gave up once my mother, the woman he’d only been dating for a few months told him, casually, between bites of her salad, that she was pregnant.

“There’s what you have to do,” I imagine he’d tell me, “and what you love to do.”

Whenever I’d leave that downtown office building where I lost eight hours of my day (nine, counting the drive there and back), I’d see the punk girls getting off the bus. They wear everything I used to wear: ratted black jackets and strategically slashed t-shirts. More than once, I’ve seen that classic “Love Will Tear Us Apart” shirt I bought from the Hot Topic: A marble angel swoons against a parched cemetery lawn. If I wore that shirt now, the heft of my breasts would twist that angel’s face into a Munchian scream.

They’d lift their eyes from the text they were reading or the cigarette they were lighting and stare back at me. They saw me shuffling from the office to the parking garage, brandishing a thermos and briefcase like all the other shirt-jacketed and be-pantyhosed masses and must’ve thought—as I had—that the lure of the “good job” wasn’t status or even security; it was just the dulling lull of sucking your thumb.

Now, the sound that lingers with me every time I’m tempted to turn the laptop off and veg out to Intervention or leave my watercolors in their box to let the talking heads on MSNBC tell me what I already believe doesn’t come from a song, it comes from Control.  It’s a small sound from the scene before Curtis hangs himself. After yet another epileptic fit hurls him to the floor, he slowly sits up, rubbing the top of his head; the word “ow” breaks from his lips. It is a child’s helpless cry, the cry that we’ve been told being strong, being competent, being grown-ups, means we have to suppress.

I would tell those punk girls, my sixteen-year old self among them, that this cry, the culmination of so many disappointments—from the day job that blots out your creative thoughts yet can’t quite pay all the bills, to the lover who leaves you, not with the passion of slammed doors but with a long sigh—this will be your undoing, but only if you let it.

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Laura Bogart is a Baltimore-based writer whose work has appeared in Salon, The Rumpus, The Nervous Breakdown, Prick of the Spindle and Spectre (among others). She’s currently at work on a novel tentatively titled Your Name is No. 

***

Jennifer Pastiloff is a writer living on an airplane. She’s the founder of The Manifest-Station.  She’s leading a weekend retreat in May to Ojai, Calif as well as 4 day retreat over Labor Day in Ojai, Calif. All retreats are a combo of yoga/writing for all levels. She and bestselling author Emily Rapp will be leading another writing retreat to Vermont in October. Check out her site jenniferpastiloff.com for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you. Next up is Costa Rica followed by Dallas, Seattle and London.  

She tweets/instagrams at @jenpastiloff.

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