I think tiny Roman Centurions have set up camp in my brain. Their funny plumed helmets are tickling my nose. Their swords and spears keep poking me in the sinuses. And they’ve been using my throat/lungs as a latrine (like that image? you’re welcome :P).
Somehow I feel like being sick today has brought me a lot of perspective about my Friday assignments. Like, how I’m scared to do them. Again.
Here’s the thing: I need to dance. It’s what brings me home, roots me in my own power, and connects me to the Divine. But for years, every time I started dancing regularly I would hurt myself. I would push and push and judge myself by external standards and not pay attention to my body. And I would trigger all of my old injuries plus a couple new ones for good measure. I got to the point where I was afraid to dance at all, where every time I moved at all, even to get off the sofa and walk to the bathroom, I would hurt. I didn’t trust my body, and I shut down my dancing-self. I told myself (in my twenties!!!) that I was too old to dance. Which is, of course, ridiculous.
But still, taking those first steps back to my dancing-self is, has always been, a leap of faith. And the trip is fraught with all of my fears and insecurities. There’s the fear of really letting go in the dance…and hurting myself…and, well, then there’s the fear of stopping.
I was doing so great last month. I actually released the pain in my right ankle. It completely stopped bothering me, and that was so amazing (it still isn’t bothering me). But then the Sunday before last, when I tried to dance out my stress and my other ankle went *ping*…well…it brought all of my fears and body-distrust flooding back. I hurt. I didn’t trust my body. I berated myself for not tuning in and warming up before dancing out my stress (hmm…there’s a lesson in here somewhere…). Now that I think about it, I don’t think I was in my body at all when the injury happened…so blaming my body seems a little silly. Huh. (Yup, definitely a lesson…where, oh where is that lesson?)
Since then I’ve danced…a little. I’ve scratched the surface of emotional-physical unity…a bit. But I haven’t had a real let-everything-go-and-dance session since then. I think I’m afraid to. And now my leg hurts whenever I’m dealing with a major emotional issue (did I mention that there was a lesson in here somewhere?). Oh right, and it hurts if I spend too much time sitting down too.
I’ve been “shoulding” all over myself about this. I’ve been approaching it with my usual hard-hitting, self-whipping all-or-nothing attitude. The attitude that never works. The attitude that leads me to self-sabotage and shutting down. The attitude that is making my leg hurt again right stinking now. Because not only am I afraid of hurting myself when I start…but I’m also afraid to stop. Like I said, it’s the all-or-nothing thing…the complete inability to take a break, but the inability to accept anything less than “perfection” in the doing.
When I was training to be a professional ballerina, I could feel it in my body if I took a single day off. So I basically never did (OK, there was a teensy element of terror of my teacher in there too, but let’s talk about my role in all of it for a change). And now, in all facets of my life, there’s this feeling of if you don’t do/achieve X, Y, or Z every single day, you are a total and utter failure and a quitter and mark my words you will rue the day you took time to rest, you weakling.
Maybe the key here is to stop with the whipping on both fronts, and start with the very-super-gentle-baby-steps-back-to-myself.
Seriously. We all have crap weeks. And we all have sick weeks. And we all have times when we go “Oops” and need to start again. That’s because we’re human. Why is it so hard to remember that we all do that?! Why does it feel like it’s just me, and like everyone else has it completely figured out (whatever “it” is)? Human…being. Last time I checked, we were all human…
So here’s the plan. Today, instead of beating myself up for not doing anything and instead of shoulding myself into a corner and forcing myself to do too much, I’m going to do this:
I’m going take 5 or 10 minutes, whatever feels right, and I am going to focus wholeheartedly on being IN my body.
That’s all. Just a little bit of time tuning in and listening and giving myself some love. Frankly, my poor, tired, sick, Roman-Centurion-infested body could use it. And when I feel better, then I will start doing more than that. But I will try to only do what feels right in the moment. And I will try to only do what feels good to my body. Something I’ve found as a recovering-ballerina is that it is STILL super-easy for me to get up in my head and start hating on my body and criticizing myself and pushing pushing pushing without listening. I don’t want that kind of relationship with myself any more. I’m so over that.
That was pretty much the whole point of doing the Rhythms and exploring this kind of dance. And it’s pretty much what I have chosen to do with my life and my career. I love it when life reminds me that I’m living my own lessons too.
To finish, I want to tell you (and me) something:
YOU HAVE PERMISSION.
To start. To half-finish. To not-do. To rest. To push. To step back.
Choose what feels right in this moment, and go with that. And tomorrow you can choose what feels right in that moment. It’s OK. You have permission. It’s your basic right as a human being.
…I am going to go lie down now. Because that’s what my body is asking me to do right now.
I hope your weekend is spectacular.