Oh. My. Goodness.
Somewhere, in an alternate dimension, 17-year-old me went to Barnard College, but instead of being terrified to leave campus and explore the city (and dropping out after 2 months), she hopped on a subway downtown and ended up at a 5Rhythms class. And everything changed. Seriously.
But, as it is, 30-year-old me began a dance practice, toned it down for a week after an old injury cropped up (in case you wondered where I went)…and then suddenly realized that she needed to DANCE.
Here’s the story.
Have you seen this article?
I’m not going to get into the whole parenting debate thing, because even though I am pretty militantly as-far-from-this-mom-as-you-can-be, that’s not what bothered me. A friend of mine posted the article on Facebook, and I read it. And then I read it again. And then I realized that I wasn’t breathing. I was having a massive flashback to dance class when I was a teenager. Because that was my life.
I’m not going to go into how much it sucked. It did suck. A lot. My teacher was a surrogate mother-figure, and my real mom didn’t know enough about what was going on to step in. I’ve talked before about how this is the one thing I want to release this year. And here I was, reading this article, and just drowning in this horrible, heavy, icky feeling.
Oh, how I wanted to get rid of it. I wanted to jump headfirst into a giant bowl of ice cream, to eat my weight in brownies, to swim in a vat of potato chips until the pain went away…because that’s what I’ve been doing, I realize, for 13 years. This time I didn’t (not much). I sat with it for hours, as much as the mom of a toddler can “sit,” which basically means that I went about my normal business with a black cloud over my head. Matthew asked me what was wrong and I couldn’t really say. I tried out various reasons, but they didn’t feel true. (Side note: this has happened SO MANY TIMES during our relationship, and this is the first time I figured out what was going on). I couldn’t tell him what was wrong because nothing was wrong now -I was remembering things that were wrong then, and they were echoing back in my present mood.
I didn’t figure this out for hours. We were in the food court of the mall having supper when I finally understood. And when we got home I knew what I had to do: I took my laptop into the guest room, closed the blinds, dimmed the lights, and danced.
I’m writing it as a 5Rhythms Friday post because I did technically do the rhythms: I flowed through a warm-up, I got staccato when I started swearing under my breath and beating the sh*t out of the air, I shook myself out and stomped out a chaotic dance of freedom…OK, I admit that during my “lyrical” song I paused and wrote something before I danced for joy (I’ll share that at the end…an edited version, anyway), and then…well, at the end I was ready to stretch. And I left that room about 50 pounds lighter, metaphorically speaking.
Seriously, Universe? Was dancing the answer to my problems all along? Did I have to come full circle in order to heal the past? You prankster, you. Like I said, in an alternate universe 17 year old me found that class and skipped 13 years of agony (and overeating).
And, to finish this very lengthy first-official Friday post…here’s what I wrote. I especially enjoy the way the voice moves from 16-year-old me to 30 year old me. Enjoy!
NO I will not be quiet. I will not suck it up or swallow my feelings or “buck up.” I will not meekly take my place in line, bending my will to yours. I will not submit to hours of torture just so you can feel like you’re doing a good job. You are not doing a good f*cking job.
I will be as loud as I want. I will go to school dances. I will take time to study. I like studying. I will take a day off every week. I will take time off when I’m sick. I will rest when I need to. It is not up to you. It was never up to you.
I will dance. I will dance MY steps in MY time and to MY music. I will wear what I want. I will sing if I want to sing. I will smile without reference to your moods. If I’m sad, I will cry. If I’m angry, I will yell. And I will dance my own steps in my own way, speak with my own voice, and occupy my own space in this world.
You cannot beat me. Twelve years later, and I am dancing my own way. You didn’t beat it out of me. It was always here, deep down. You didn’t change me.
And you know what else? My hip bones are not supposed to stick out. And my natural figure has boobs. And curves. When I “got fat” what I really did was “get healthy”
No more will I allow your words to echo through my head. No more will I allow your poison to leach into my life. No more will I shove these feelings down. I will exorcise the demon of you, and I will dance away, free at last.
I will fall in love with myself alone. I will seek out people and things that inspire and support me. I will let my voice be heard. I will shout my message from the rooftops. I will dance in crowded rooms and empty spaces and everywhere in between. I will fling my arms wide and breathe the sweet, free air. I will do all of this. And I will look back and forgive your ignorance and your well-meaning abuse from a place of strength and wholeness.
I do forgive you…now. I haven’t yet forgiven you…then.