I was going to film a dance video tonight.
I was. I cleared the space. I swept the floor. I tried to pick out a song to use…I was exhausted, but I told myself to push through it. Push push. People are expecting a video, Meg. You should have had one up on Tuesday. I don’t care if you’re tired. Pick a $&#%ing song and %#&@ing dance.
Forcing myself to make a video out of guilt and stress and fear and in spite of being incredibly tired and not particularly inspired…that’s not what this dance-a-thon is about. That’s not a recipe for self-expression. That’s not sharing the joy of moving my body.
You know what that is? An all-too-familiar place. The place where dancing is a should and not a joy. Where moving is impeded by layers of pain, my body weighed down by resistance and fear. Where injury waits for me. Where I can never be good enough. Where the drill-sergeant voice in my head screams “TRY HARDER!” and I leap to attention, no matter how tired or sick I am.
I knew that this process would bring me face to face with a very dark part of me. This is the part that I always run away from. This is the part that either makes me stop dancing to get away from it or push through in obedience and hurt myself because I’m not fully embodied and I’m not moving with love.
What do I do this time?
I take a step back. I remind myself that:
a) Not dancing tonight doesn’t make me a quitter. There’s still plenty of time.
b) If I want to learn to dance on my terms, then I need to respect my body’s requests for rest.
c) Tomorrow I’ll be able to start earlier and hopefully won’t be so tired
d) The only person pressuring me is me.
e) Forcing myself to dance right now when I can’t even pick a song to move to is a sure-fire recipe for hating the resulting video.
There are times to push. There are times when resistance is something you can move through in a healthy way. I encountered that kind of resistance when I first considered doing the dance-a-thon.
But there are also times when resistance is telling you something, when pushing through would make the problem worse.
The former feels exhilarating. It lights you up and makes you feel what author John Green once called “a shimmering nervousness” (I love that). The latter is heavy. It feels like you’re trapped between a rock and a hard place. It sucks.
Only you know which you’re encountering at any given time. Only you know which is the right choice for you. Only you can make that call.
Tonight I know.
I’ll try again tomorrow. It’s the loving thing to do.