Voiceless-Thoughts in the Practice Room
I am back home in the beautiful mountains of Northern Pennsylvania for my final year of college, but I am well aware that I no longer belong. As I set down to the piano bench, and placed my vocal score in front of me, I could feel a shiver ascend up my spine. Once carrying an overage of 20-21 credits, I now begin to spiral if I creep over a mere sixteen. Yet- I realize I am human, and this new reality of recovery is okay. A young woman who once gained her lifetime highs from sustaining breath taking high notes in her favorite arias- I am lucky today if I can sing above a D5 on the staff because of the damage my eating disorder has caused to my voice. More-so, I will be even luckier if I am ever able to sing the way I once could. I am twenty one years old, and I face health threats to my esophagus that doctors typically see in the fifty year old alcoholic males they treat- but moreso the same health threats that cost me my ability to sing.
If I could speak to my younger self- there would be so many things that I long to tell her- but it does not matter since I know she would never have listened, anyways.
I write because I hope someone understands that I chased an eating disorder for the happiness I never got. Yet- that is exactly what eating disorders do. They rob you of everything you are. The very person you have aspirations to become is never who you will be as long as you cling to these false perceptions.
Samantha in her eating disorder would do anything to protect this false identity, and because of these sacrifices I am a college vocal performance major who may not be able to finish her degree program since I chose an eating disorder over my prospective career. I was warned, and I knew the repercussions of the disordered behaviors before, and during college… but Ed never listened. Ed thought he was more important. I am one and a half years divorced from my eating disorder, but it was too late by this point to reverse the damage done that would eventually cause the shadow of severe acid reflux has still cost me my vocal health, and singing voice. Yet I want you to keep reading because even though these things occur- I want you to recognize amidst these trials- there is beauty.
Humility is losing part of your singing range, and sitting in front of the piano with tears streaming down your face as you realize the permanent damage. When you realize that Ed has officially stolen from you the very thing that drove you to choose life.
I divorced my eating disorder to save my voice, and here I stand at a crossroad of vocal therapy fearing I may lose the battle.
But the thing is- I am more than this one thing. My voice inspired me to get to life, but Samantha is so many more things than a singer. She is a fighter, a warrior, a writer, a dreamer, a future therapist, a Daughter of the King- You are so many more things than your struggles, too. I write because we may fight, but these fights make us stronger people. Never let the world change the soft heart you possess. You are priceless.
One of my Pastors spoke a few months ago about how God will NEVER cause trials to happen in our lives… but we can always know, and believe that He will find a way to turn these adversities into the most beautiful peaks if we allow Him to take the reins. While I am unsure of the future, and perhaps you are too, I would encourage you to look at Psalm 23 because with God we can fear no evil for He is with us. Let His rod and staff be a comfort unto you in your trials, but also throughout the beautiful moments as well.
Perhaps you are at a fork in the road as well- be it school, family, or the woes of recovery, but I want you to know that you are a beautiful and incredible warrior who is fearfully and wonderfully made. Ed may have “stolen” from you… but life is yours the minute you CHOOSE to reclaim it. Life is mine. Life is ours. I will sing again- a song is whatever you make it. Make it beautiful.