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Me. My Dream. And a confession.

Hi all,

The pictures dispersed through this post are from a trip I made to Stratford, Ontario in the early fall. A small town, home to Canada’s most prestigious classical theatre festival.

This is the home to my dream.

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Since I was very young, its been my dream to perform. I was a dancer, singer and all around drama queen. I’ve always been very shy, until you got me onto the stage. Up there?  All my inhibitions simply disappeared.  “But, you are so quiet in real life!” family friends would say.

After high school, I was torn with the decision to go to University for biochemistry –  I’ve always been a science nerd at heart  – or to audition for musical theatre programs. I followed that little, scary twinge of intuition in my gut and accepted my entrance to a performing arts college in Toronto.

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The transition from a small town to a very large city was big enough, but it was being thrown into a world where, suddenly, everyone around me had the same dream as me that was the real shock. In my small town, I was known as “the dancer,” “the singer. “Don’t forget me when you get to broadway!” my friends would say. Members of my church congregation would coddle me with compliments on my latest performance. I felt special. I felt unique.

And now I was training alongside dozens of others – whom mostly came from large cities with far more advanced training than I ever had – and I was no longer the best. I was good, but not the best. I became very quiet, feeling much more comfortable sitting in the back and letting the other dramatic extroverts get centre stage.  I received very good comments from colleagues and teachers and was nominated for a prestigious award for excellence in all three disciplines. And yet, I felt forgotten. I felt unnoticed. I knew my teachers saw something in me. I knew I had talent. But I was too scared to let it show.

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I was also bored. I felt forgotten, and thus I felt unchallenged. I felt unnoticed, and thus I felt unstimulated. I felt like I needed to do more; have something more to focus on. I got a job to fill my weekends. I was the only one in my class to work.

Now here is where things get confusing. I am not sure what came first – the beginnings of my eating disorder or my loss of passion. I do know, that in my second year of college when I really began to feel forgotten and bored, I was unconsciously longing to once again feel special – like I did in my small town.  I remember seeing myself in the mirror and realized I had put on weight (hello job at a bakery).  I hated myself for it.  Really, I know my hatred was rooted much deeper – in feelings of shame and failure – but this hatred was so much easier to judge through the lens of my body. So I told myself I’d lose weight.IMG_0522

From that moment on I was on a thrilling roller coaster ride. I began learning, for the first time, about “fat free” foods and how to be “healthy.”  From a girl who grew up with two older brothers and could match their plates at the dinner table… from a girl who ate double the amount as any of her cousins at Thanksgiving… from a girl who’s favorite foods were pork and beans while camping and Dad’s potato casseroles… who’s metabolism was blasting from being so active in dance, volleyball and soccer… the notion of a salad for lunch was completely new to me. I never, ever thought about body image…in fact I sincerely did not understand the complaints other girls seemed to have about their body parts. But I quickly learned that having this new knowledge and discipline got me attention.  I was being noticed again! Colleagues yearned for my willpower to have salad for lunch rather than their bowl of pasta.  The “you’re so small!” comments beautifully fed my call for attention.

Honestly, I didn’t even notice I lost weight. All I can remember is the sense of accomplishment I felt when researching more ways to cut out fat. It was more the act of disciplining myself that was so intoxicating. But I did lose weight. To those who began to take notice, I easily brushed it all off as fine. And sadly, I really did think it was all fine.

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Although I was busy and successful after graduating, my passion began to die.  I wasn’t happy with the projects I was doing. I had large expectations for where I would get to upon graduating, and I wasn’t getting there.  I found this embarrassing.  I felt ashamed.  As I lost more and more interest in my passion, I gained more and more interest in food and exercise. Or was it the other way around? Regardless, this is how I coped.

I stopped performing. I went backpacking in South East Asia and then moved to Halifax to study Nutrition in University.  Once again I felt unchallenged. Bored. I was isolated on a small campus where I had no creative outlets. I quickly learned how detrimental this is for me. I learned that without creativity and art, I drown.

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I became clinically depressed. I lost myself and I lost more weight than I ever thought I could. I began to get help, and after a serious medical scare, was forced to finally admit my condition to my parents. How I got through the year – with such high marks – is beyond me. All while obsessively exercising, isolating myself, and growing more and more fearful of food.

After quitting school and spending a year feeling determined that I could change this around myself (always stubborn and independent), I finally accepted I could not do it alone. I had moved back to Toronto and had began to audition once again,  but it was evident that I would never be taken seriously with my appearance. This broke my heart. I submitted myself into Eating Disorder treatment programs, and the day after my birthday, began intensive inpatient treatment.

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I lived on the psychiatric ward (beginning as an overnight patient and then graduating to day status) for six months.  I will be speaking of my experience in the hospital in another post, so for now, will just say that I got through the program, gaining the weight I was told I needed to gain. Every day reminding myself why I was doing this….. because I wanted to act. I wanted to follow my dream.

As my health came back, so did my passions.  And boy did they come back. They came back with a vengeance.

A year and half later and here I am. Feeling more certain than ever of my dream and what I want to do. I returned to my auditions and worked on a number of independent film projects. But my heart has always lived on the stage and in classical theatre.

Deciding whether or not to enter into my current training conservatory was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make.  I had directors tell me that by leaving what I was currently doing, I would be giving up on my potential film career.  But by god that pulling in my gut just would not leave me alone.  I knew I needed this classical training – this credential –  to get into the doors I wanted to get into. I knew I needed this to get to my dream stage.  No, it may not get me the big bucks that the film industry would.  Yes, I could be leaving behind a more successful career.  No, there were no certainties. But I had to try.

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Amidst continual feelings of shame and failure – for being an older member of the company – I continue to hold on to the reason why I’m doing what I’m doing. Everyones’ journey is different. Mine has just been a bit more…eclectic?… than some others’.  I’ve done many different things in my young-ish life.  I’ve had far more life experience and have learned more about the human condition than I ever thought I would.  Not saying that I would have chosen to do so… but living on a psych ward definitely gives an actor a great deal of insight into the human condition.

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I feel like I’m fighting every day.  Fighting for my dream – against my feelings of embarrassment and of being  a “failure,” and fighting this damn eating disorder that every day tries to take my dream away from me.  I still fall into phases of serious depression. But I’m fighting. I’m fighting every day because this is what I want to do. If it takes me half my life to get there… so be it. If I have to take the long route to get there and train amongst people younger than me… so be it. I can’t change the past. I can only continue fighting for the future.

Its a good thing I still look like I’m 16 :).

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In addition to all of this, I want to now make an honest confession.  I’ve been debating how/when/if I’d even do so for a while now, and its proving to be very hard. When I first started this blog, I was scared. I was scared about the safety and privacy issues of the internet. I was nervous about being “found.”  So I used a name that was not mine.  A family name – but not my real name. This is still how some of you may know me. For this, I feel guilty, and very sorry. I knew immediately that using this name did not feel right, which is why I then began using no name at all. I hated the feeling of lying to people – people who, over time, I have now established connections with and feel a great amount of respect for.  I never thought blogging would do this. But it has.

So, my name is Cora. Yep. Thats me. I’m truly, deeply sorry if you have ‘known’ me since I established myself with a different name, and I hope with all my heart this does not discount your trust in me and what I write. Like all of us, I am learning. And I make mistakes. Every day. But I want to just be me now.

So…Hi? Nice to meet you – again. And that? That’s my dream theatre behind me. That’s where I will be one day.

Seeya there.

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Stratford Festival Theatre. My dream.

Love,

Cora

 

23 COMMENTS

  1. hungryforbalance | 18th Dec 15

    Cora, I am SO HAPPY to meet you!!!
    You are beautiful, honest, and SO SO BRAVE!! Thank you for sharing this!
    There are so many things I want to say, but most of all, I want to give you a big hug. I would also tell you that I don’t understand or know everything that you’ve been through, but that I am so happy to listen. XOXO

    • mylittletablespoon | 18th Dec 15

      Ohhh Heather, this means the world. Thank you so much all your words of support, all the time. And a hug is all we ever really need! I feel it through the screen <3

  2. Kate Bennett | 18th Dec 15

    Could I love you more? Whatever your name is?! Seriously, you are so awesome for sharing your story and your words are so beautifully written. It is absolutely terrible how an ED can steal passions so easily. It can make you forget about everything you used to care for. I am so glad you are slowly but surely regaining your life. It definitely means taking risks and putting yourself about there, but oh man is it worth it!! I believe there is purpose and meaning for our lives, so we have to fight against anything that tries to steal it from us.
    I couldn’t help but laugh when you said your time on the psych ward gave you more insight into the human condition. My experience on an eating disorder ward had to be SO strange from an outsiders POV. I didn’t see it then, but thinking back on it, it was so clear how our EDs made us robotic and childlike and strange. Anytime I read a book or watch a movie about someone on a psych ward (“A Long Way Down”, “Girl interrupted”, etc.) I am impressed by how realistic they are.
    Anyways- you are just awesome!! XOXO. You have a loyal reader and friend in me.

    • mylittletablespoon | 18th Dec 15

      You, Kate, are the true meaning of awesome for being so unbelievably loving and motivating – always. Im so grateful to have your support and friendship. Yes, they are absolutely terrible and steal many things. And I totally meant the psych ward comment to have its hilarity – it is QUITE the experience. Although a serious event, I definitely look back at with as many giggles and sighs as anything else. <3

  3. SuzLyfe | 18th Dec 15

    Cora, this is so brave, but I think so important–this is you. Pure, clean, anew. I can’t express how happy this post makes me. So rarely do we go back and read our own posts, but I hope that you bookmark this post for yourself for the future–I want you to come back and read it–to absorb it not as an author, but as a reader, and see just how great you are, how much you have within you.
    Stunning. This touches my soul, truly, it does.

    • mylittletablespoon | 18th Dec 15

      I honestly don’t even know what to say… no words can really describe how touched and grateful I am for your comments. You are so wise, and you communicate so beautifully. Thank you.. just.. thank you. For your support, and wisdom, and generosity and teaching. <3

  4. cookiesnchem | 18th Dec 15

    I love you and your blog, regardless of what your name is! You are honestly such a beautiful, brilliant, and brave person with a big heart. You might be twenty, but you have the wisest soul – this quote defines that! “I can’t change the past. I can only continue fighting for the future.”

    I agree with SuzLyfe – hopefully you come back to this post in years and reflect on all the changes that have happened. You are so wonderful and I know that great, great things will happen for you in the future! I loved reading this and am sending you lots of happy wishes. Keep trooping!

    • mylittletablespoon | 18th Dec 15

      Thankyou so much Cindy. This really means a lot. Although I only know you “through the screen” I can always feel your support and energy with every word you send. It does not go unnoticed (ps I’m a fair chunk older than 20.. but your words still mean the same :). Lots of love

  5. katalysthealth | 19th Dec 15

    So happy to “meet” you darling, and what a beautiful soul and heart you have. It takes a brave soul to be able to share a story such as this, but it is something that I truly appreciate. As someone who has posted her own story with a similar trek through eating disorders, I know the paralyzing fear that can take over when it comes to sharing this part of your life. Congrats on doing so, and so beautifully I might add 🙂

  6. Brittany | 20th Dec 15

    WOW what a post!! I always understand when people keep information private on their blogs, it’s a big deal sharing things that are personal! Sometimes it’s helpful to keep yourself a mystery, but it seems you’re ready to let your flag fly and FLY AWAY my friend! Love that Starbucks banana photo. 😉

  7. sprint2thetable | 20th Dec 15

    Cora. You are incredible. Go after everything you want without hesitation. You’ll get there!

  8. Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets | 21st Dec 15

    Cora is a beautiful name.

    I love your honesty and glad you felt comfortable enough to open up to all of us. Keep following that dream of yours. It’s clearly your calling.

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  10. Ellie | 22nd Dec 15

    Glad to meet you Cora. We are very similar. You inspire me to continue to pursue my dreams. Peace and love <3

  11. chasetheredgrape | 22nd Dec 15

    I agree with Meghan, Cora is such a beautiful name! And for such a beautiful person too 🙂
    I can relate to so much of what you have just written, but you know what is so awesome about blogging? We can fight together. Together we are stronger, happier, confident and proud.

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  13. Ryley | 23rd Jan 16

    Hey, you say you are from Northern Ontario> I am from Sioux Lookout. Do you know where that it?

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  15. Abigail T | 31st Jan 17

    I just love this post. I’ve been having some similar struggles but the fight IS WORTH IT! I’m thinking of you and always love reading your posts.

    • Cora | 2nd Feb 17

      Thank you, Abigail! This means so much. The fight is absolutely, 100%, no doubt about it so worth it. When you feel that feeling of having a passion that truly fills your soul – there is honestly no better feeling in the world. And it makes everything, EVERYTHING, worth it. Please email me if you ever feel like chatting <3. mylittletablespoon@hotmail.com

  16. Stephanie Leduc | 6th Feb 17

    I’ve never read this before and I am so glad I just did. I loved learning more about your story and why you do everything you do, I loved every single sentence of this blog post.
    You are so awesome for following your dreams, no matter if it was not the safest route or the easiest route. Someone with passion and drive like you are the ones who make it far :).
    Stephanie Leduc recently posted…What I Ate Wednesday: How To Up Your Veggie GameMy Profile

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