“What would happen if we showed people what was underneath the words ‘I’m fine’?”
There’s an old Indigenous tale about two wolves who battle inside every individual. One is evil and one is good, and the one who wins is the one that’s fed.
Alexandria Bay (’19) connected with this story from the moment she heard it. The battle of these two wolves was something that made sense to her.
“This story reminds us that we have authority over our actions. We can choose good every day if we decide to,” says Bay. “It’s kind of shedding light on the silent battles that go on inside each of us.”
Later, when things in her life spiralled out of control, she was reminded of this story. It gave her a frame of reference when it came to dealing with the conflicting emotions that raged in her own tormented soul.
“My story matched the battle of the two wolves. It was an internal battle, one that nobody could see,” says Bay.
Feeding The Bad Wolf
Bay says that she had a good childhood and was surrounded by a loving family, yet despite this, she found herself struggling with body dysphoria.
“I grew up feeling out of place,” says Bay. “The impact of social media, culture, friends getting boyfriends—a lot of factors played into me wondering what was wrong with me.”
The thought “What’s wrong with me?” led Bay to become obsessed with food. She fluctuated between eating healthy and binging on snacks. Through this obsession, food lost all joy for her. She quickly became a slave to this way of living.
“I was calculating the calories in all my meals and felt guilty if I ate one bad thing. I became ashamed my lack of self-control if I did eat bad food,” says Bay. “Bulimia was always at the back of my mind, but I was afraid to do it. But if you have a toxic mentality of what you need to look like in your mind, it finds its way in.”
Night after night, Bay would collapse exhausted into bed. She felt like she was constantly kicking and screaming, but no one could see or hear her. She thought her obsession with counting calories was time-consuming before, but bulimia took things to another level.
“It eats up your time and becomes a lifestyle,” says Bay. This wreaked havoc in her second year of University. Bay says she was constantly plotting routes to the various handicap bathrooms that would keep her out of the path of classmates and friends.
The Silent Scream
For over a year, Bay fluctuated between bulimia, anorexia, and binging. Because of this, Bay says she felt incapable of being a good friend. So much of community revolved around partaking in food together, but she was unable to participate without drowning in waves of soul-crushing guilt.
She felt more alone than she ever imagined possible. On the outside, things may have looked fine. But what she wanted more than anything was for someone to really see what was going on inside and then rescue her.
Eventually, she could take it no more.
“I reached my breaking point,” says Bay. “To quote from our play, I reached the light at the end of the tunnel and turns out it was the fire of hell.”
It was in that place of desperation that someone finally heard her silent scream.
It was during a prayer meeting that Bay finally found the freedom to share what was going on. She was sitting with several other ladies, listening but not sharing. She couldn’t seem to find the words to adequately express what was going on.
“Then I just broke,” says Bay, “and the group of women prayed over me. That was the first time I was able to talk about it and feel freedom in it without being ashamed.”
After this, Bay found herself able to share her struggle with close friends and family. The more she shared, the more she discovered that she was not alone. Many others suffered with their own silent battles.
“Because I was able to share my weaknesses, others were able to share theirs,” says Bay. “We became stronger through that.”
Bay says that it was only through God’s grace and an amazing community that she was able to finally get the help she needed.
“I remember eating my first Christmas meal after coming through this,” says Bay. “I sat down with my family and actually ate and had seconds and wasn’t worried about it. It was the most amazing Christmas gift. I’m pretty sure I cried because it was the most freeing thing to be able to eat my mom’s cooking again.”
The One You Feed
Because she knows how debilitating it can be to go through these silent battles alone, Bay wants help empower others to speak out and get help.
In 2018, she decided to co-write a play called The One You Feed with her friend, Keenan Marchand (’18). Because Bay, Marchand, and the tale of the two wolves are indigenous, they decided to have an entirely indigenous cast.
“Collaborating with Marchand was phenomenal because we share the same vision,” says Bay.
They wrote a story intertwining body and cultural dysphoria into their characters, hoping that through seeing this play, others would be able to look at their own internal wolves and evaluate what actions they’re taking to feed the good or bad one.
“I’m hoping that people will be able to see how much is behind a surface conversation and then be encouraged to go deeper and invest in the relationships they have around them,” adds Bay.
Her Story To Tell
Although Bay there is still lingering PTSD from her past—and there were times that writing and performing this story was painful—Bay says she is confident in her identity and believes this is something that needs to be shared.
“I know that I am a disciple of Christ, I am indigenous, and I’m beautiful,” says Bay. “Because I’m confident in all those, I have the right to tell this story because its mine to tell, and no one can say otherwise.”
The One You Feed is being performed at Trinity Western University from April 11th-13th starring Bay and Marchand. It is directed by Jessica Garden (‘18).