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Unbearable Lightness
Cover of Unbearable Lightness
Unbearable Lightness
A Story of Loss and Gain
"An unusually fresh and engrossing memoir of both Hollywood and modern womanhood." —Los Angeles Times In this searing, unflinchingly honest memoir, actress Portia de Rossi shares the truth of her...
"An unusually fresh and engrossing memoir of both Hollywood and modern womanhood." —Los Angeles Times In this searing, unflinchingly honest memoir, actress Portia de Rossi shares the truth of her...
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  • "An unusually fresh and engrossing memoir of both Hollywood and modern womanhood."Los Angeles Times

    In this searing, unflinchingly honest memoir, actress Portia de Rossi shares the truth of her long battle to overcome anorexia and bulimia while living in the public eye, and details the new happiness and health she has found in recent years—including her coming out and her marriage to Ellen DeGeneres.
    In this groundbreaking memoir, Portia de Rossi reveals the pain and illness that haunted her for decades, from the time she was a twelve-year-old girl working as a model in Australia, through her early rise to fame as a cast member of the hit television show Ally McBeal. All the while terrified that the truth of her sexuality would be exposed in the tabloids, Portia alternately starved herself and binged, putting her life in danger and concealing from herself and everyone around her the seriousness of her illness.

    She describes the elaborate rituals around food that came to dominate hours of every day and explores the pivotal moments of her childhood that set her on the road to illness. She reveals the heartache and fear that accompany a life lived in the closet, a sense of isolation that was only magnified by her unrelenting desire to be ever thinner, ever more in control of her body and the number of calories she consumed and spent.

    From her lowest point, Portia began the painful climb back to a life of health and honesty, falling in love and marrying Ellen DeGeneres and emerging as an outspoken and articulate advocate for gay rights and women's health issues. In this remarkable, landmark book, she has given the world a story that inspires hope and nourishes the spirit.

Excerpts-

  • From the book

    PROLOGUE

    HE DOESN'T WAIT until I'm awake. He comes into my unconscious to find me, to pull me out. He seizes my logical mind and disables it with fear. I awake already panic-stricken, afraid I won't answer the voice correctly, the loud, clear voice that reverberates in my head like an alarm that can't be turned off.

    What did you eat last night?

    Since we first met when I was twelve he's been with me, at me, barking orders. A drill sergeant of a voice that is pushing me forward, marching ahead, keeping time. When the voice isn't giving orders, it's counting. Like a metronome, it is predictable. I can hear the tick of another missed beat and in the silence between beats I anxiously await the next tick; like the constant noise of an intermittently dripping faucet, it keeps counting in the silences when I want to be still. It tells me to never miss a beat. It tells me that I will get fat again if I do.

    The voice and the ticks are always very loud in the darkness of the early morning. The silences that I can't fill with answers are even louder. God, what did I eat? Why can't I remember?

    I breathe deeply in an attempt to calm my heartbeat back to its resting pulse. As I do, my nostrils are filled with stale cigarette smoke that hung around from the night before like a party guest who'd passed out on the living room sofa after everybody else went home. The digital clock reads 4:06, nine minutes before my alarm was set to wake me. I need to use the restroom, but I can't get out of bed until I can remember what I ate.

    My pupils dilate to adjust to the darkness as if searching for an answer in my bedroom. It's not coming. The fact that it's not coming makes me afraid. As I search for the answer, I perform my routine check. Breasts, ribs, stomach, hip bones. I grab roughly at these parts of my body to make sure everything is as I left it, a defensive measure, readying myself for the possible attack from my panic-addled brain. At least I slept. The last few nights I've been too empty and restless, too flighty--like I need to be weighted to my bed and held down before I can surrender to sleep. I've been told that sleep is good for weight loss. It recalibrates your metabolism and shrinks your fat cells. But why it would be better than moving my legs all night as if I were swimming breaststroke I don't really know. Actually, now that I think about it, it must be bullshit. Swimming like someone is chasing me would have to burn more calories than lying motionless like a fat, lazy person. I wonder how long I've been that way. Motionless. I wonder if that will affect my weight loss today.

    I feel my heartbeat, one, two, three--it's quickening. I start breathing deeply to stop from panicking, IN one two, OUT three four . . .

    Start counting

    60

    30

    10 =

    100

    I start over. I need to factor in the calories burned. Yesterday I got out of bed and walked directly to the treadmill and ran at 7.0 for 60 minutes for a total of negative 600 calories. I ate 60 calories of oatmeal with Splenda and butter spray and black coffee with one vanilla-flavored tablet. I didn't eat anything at all at work. And at lunch I walked on the treadmill in my dressing room for the hour. Shit. I had only walked. The fan I had rigged on the treadmill to blow air directly into my face so my makeup wouldn't be ruined had broken. That's not true, actually. Because I'm so lazy and disorganized, I'd allowed the battery to run down so the plastic blades spun at the speed of a seaside Ferris wheel. I need that fan because my makeup artist is holding me on virtual probation at work. While I am able to calm...

About the Author-

  • Portia de Rossi is an Australian-born actress best known for her roles in the television series Ally McBeal, Arrested Development, and most recently Better Off Ted. She lives in Los Angeles with her wife, Ellen DeGeneres.

Reviews-

  • AudioFile Magazine While women who are coming to terms with being lesbian or having eating issues will connect in a special way with this memoir, de Rossi's account of her journey from self-loathing to self-acceptance will resonate with many more listeners. Her well-written story takes listeners from her Australian childhood to her attempts at heterosexual marriage and her struggles with her acting career. Graphic accounts of her intimate relationships, eating disorder, and struggles in Hollywood are more touching than brutal. Supportive people and a good marriage with Ellen DeGeneres gradually enable her to understand the emotional basis of her symptoms. Besides the inspiration of the author's emergence from self-destruction, what lingers at the story's end is the authentic sound of her beautiful speaking voice. T.W. (c) AudioFile 2011, Portland, Maine

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A Story of Loss and Gain
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