Reverb is an every-day-in-December journalling/blogging practice. Each day features a prompt that either helps you integrate the past year or envision what you want to create in the next one (sometimes both). If you want to follow along with me, I’m posting a prompt on my Facebook page every morning.
Dec 5: Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?
I felt it: the exact moment I was set free.
I was doing yoga. I reached up in mountain and swan-dived into a forward fold. I looked at my thighs, my beautiful, big thighs…and I revisited a memory that has haunted me for half my life.
I remembered that day in ballet class when my upper thighs didn’t touch anymore, my bones showed through the skin on my chest, and my teacher praised me in front of everyone. And I glowed with pride. Sure, I wasn’t menstruating any more. And I was hungry all the time. But that didn’t matter…I was thin. Being thin meant that I was a Real Dancer and that I was Going to Make It. I was so proud. So proud of my beautiful, emaciated body.
Proud…and afraid. Because if achieving this size meant that I was praise-worthy, I knew that gaining the weight back and losing the bones would mean that I was worthless. That I couldn’t dance. That I was a failure.
That belief coloured every day of my teenage life. And it stayed with me all the years afterward.
Until that forward fold. I felt the exact moment when I released that memory and all the baggage that went with it. And now I feel lighter than air, like the burden I carried for 15 years has slid off my shoulders and disappeared in the distance. Now I can do anything, no matter what size I am.
I’ve been on a journey this year. I planned to go on a journey of weight loss and fitness and regimented movement. Instead, I went on an inner pilgrimage to the shrine of the body and the holiness inside.
At the beginning of the year, like every other year for the past decade, I planned to change my body, to make it smaller and stronger and “better.” But, as always, it didn’t work. I spent so much of this year not-moving and berating myself for being lazy and fearful and full of resistance. Now I see that I couldn’t start really moving again until I let go of the skinny, terrified girl inside. Until I accepted myself completely and fully in all of my curvy glory.
Until movement stopped being about whipping myself back into shape and slenderness and started being about my body’s intense delight in moving and working and feeling alive.
I thought I understood before. I thought that I was free. But as I look back, even on my old posts from earlier in the year, the same current of pain and fear and judgement and self-reproach runs through my writing. I still didn’t get it. I was still the prisoner of this old belief, tortured by these old patterns.
And now? Memories that were full of bitterness are rolling off me like water. Old beliefs are breaking up and floating away in the breeze. I’m realizing that the 31-year-old-size-20 prison I thought I was in…wasn’t a prison at all. It’s me. My size and age are part of who I am. And I am amazing.
And now, finally, I’m dancing. I’m dancing more than I thought I ever could again. I’m listening to my body and honouring its messages when it tells me to stop or to keep going until sweat runs down my face. When I meet a limitation, it’s something to be worked through gently, not a sign that I’ve wasted my best dancing years.
My “best dancing years” are still ahead of me. They’ll be years of knowing who I really am and moving from a place deep inside. They’ll be years of freedom from body-hatred and size-obsession, years when “a dancer’s body” means a body that dances, and not a particular size or shape. They’ll be years of tuning in and sensing my body’s desire for movement, of testing and enjoying and honouring. And I hope they’ll be years of sharing the dance with others, of opening other minds and hearts to the amazing beauty and sacredness we all hold inside of us.