Of identity crises and I’ll laugh about this someday

Last week, I finally made the decision to give up dance for good. I went to class last Monday and before class was even over, my knee was screaming at me. It’s not just the patellofemoral pain, it’s also the leg with the poorly healed groin injury, and the side with the formerly pinched sciatic nerve. In short, it’s a hot mess. I’ve been told multiple times that I need to find some other option for exercise. This time, I finally decided to listen. I did the movie cliche of getting in the shower and crying once I’d decided it was time. I felt like I’d lost who I am once and for all. I promised myself when I extracted myself from Will that I wouldn’t give it up again. I wouldn’t let someone take it away from me. It’s the last shred of who I was before. It’s the last shred of the girl who got lost that day.

I find myself, once again, with an identity crisis. I gave up dance for the betterment of my own health. It wasn’t taken from me. I know I’m doing the right thing. That doesn’t make it any easier to swallow. I’ve gone back to my cave analogy. I find myself sitting outside the cave, not sure how to get back down there. I’m not even sure what’s down there to see.

I had an honest conversation with my friend who has morphed into this odd mix of big brother, dad, & friend. I’ve kept him actively involved in my adventures in online dating both for his take on the situations and entertainment. I asked him what drew him to me in the first place. He told me that he remembered seeing a picture of me he thought was cool & decided to start talking to me. As he got to know me better, he appreciated my wit & (funnily enough) maturity that he didn’t see in people his own age. In the past 6 years, we’ve come and gone in the other one’s world, some times less fucked up than others. True friends, he said, always stick around. He loves me and doesn’t want to see me get hurt because I lost sight of the fact that I’m worth more than who will sleep with me. That, unfortunately, is a nasty side effect of not having a solid grip on who you are. Fortunately, I have his voice in my head (and his texts on my phone) to remind me.

“Dancer” is really just an adjective. It’s not the core of my personality. I was rather fond of that adjective. I’m sorry to see it become part of my past rather than still in my present. I like to think that this will leave space for something, or someone, to fill the gap.

I am not a victim of life. I’m an active participant. I’ll just keep repeating that until I believe it.

XOXO!

Motivational Monday: Comfort Zones

This post is more for me than you, fair readers. Feel free to jump on the bandwagon. The more the merrier, eh?

As I discussed in my post on Saturday, I’m having an internal argument with myself over possibly switching my workout routine to the early morning rather than after work. I shot off an email to the old CrossFit-esque camp I used to participate in. They’ve since expanded their locations, including one that’s only a slight detour from my way to work. They’ll call me sometime during the week to schedule my free session. I felt pretty good about it until Sunday morning. Then Hailey kicked in again.

“Pfft, why did you even bother? It’s not like you’re going to keep it up,”

“I thought we had this talk about you being late to work? Did you even listen?”

“It’s too expensive. You don’t have that kind of money,”

The same litany came out for trying an early morning yoga class. That’s all it is. Trying. I don’t have to commit to anything. It’s just an experiment. It will allow me to see exactly what impact it would have on my commute. Then I can make an informed decision. I’ll give myself two separate chances, one with yoga and the other with camp. If it doesn’t work out or I get to work too late for my comfort (at my desk no later than 8a after all the requisite cleaning up has been completed), I can stop. It’s not like the minute I get there, I’ll be forced to sign a year long contract with a cancellation fee that involves my left kidney. There’s absolutely no harm in trying. Getting up at 515a to be at a 6a class might hurt a little the first time, but again, it’s not permanent unless I decide it’s worth it. I have a very hard time believing either of them would be insulted if I said “I have to think about it”. I know the camp won’t because I’ve dealt with them before. Hard sell isn’t their style.

The same thing goes through my head regarding the technical dance studio. I have 2 classes just hanging out there, waiting to be used. I always chicken out at the last minute. Again, I’m not making any kind of serious commitment. There’s a reason their business model is a drop in system. I have a year to use the classes I buy. I just need to inch a little more in that direction. I allow myself to be intimidated. I bully myself so hard that, again, I feel crappy & stuck. What’s the worst that will happen? They won’t kick me out of class. I’m a paying customer. The other dancers won’t point and laugh. Odds are, they aren’t even paying attention to me. I’m not a disruptive student. I pretty much keep to myself in class, even at the recreational studio where I know faces even if I don’t know names. The only real challenge is judging what their definition of “beginner” or “intermediate” is. Even then, I can go to a beginner level class & if it’s too easy, then go up a level.

I don’t tolerate other people bullying me or someone I care about. It’s a lot harder to stop bullying myself. At least if I try, I’ve knocked the bully down a peg.

Motivational Tidbit Takeaway: Give it a try

XOXO!

Of internal monologues & the stories you don’t want to hear

Y’all, I’d be lying if I said things haven’t been really dark lately.

It’s not so much the “I can’t make myself get out of bed” kind of dark. It’s more the “Well, well, well, look who’s failing again” version.

You’re flaky. You’re unprofessional. You can’t be trusted to make the right choices. You’re not worthy. You can’t be trusted to make any choices, actually. Look at you, why aren’t you trying harder to lose those love handles? You spent money on what? Seriously? You want new, nice underwear because yours is falling apart? You know anything nice is just asking for it. No, really, you have *got* to do something about those hips. He’s just waiting until someone else better comes along. You’re disposable.

That’s been my internal monologue for the past week or so. I’m still perfectly capable of getting out of bed, putting on pants, and physically showing up. Mentally? I’m about a million miles away. Fortunately, my medication has kept stress related auras at bay. Hailey manifests herself in the form of being more defensive. Yesterday, my boss pointed out two specific instances where I’d been unusually defensive. I blamed it on the fact that one of my employees was out on medical leave this past week. It wasn’t entirely a lie. My other employee works far too slowly to be of much help. I was a one woman show doing the work of 4 people. I stayed late at work three of the four days I worked this week. I signed up for a class geared toward new(ish) managers. If nothing else, I can’t say I’m not making the effort.

I look in the mirror and I see her. I have to push to actually see myself. I’ve had confirmation that when your brain is struggling, so does your body. In my dance classes, I couldn’t perform basic moves that I know I can do. I felt like a giraffe on roller skates. I was in a class of three people one night, so I couldn’t just fade into the crowd. Not that I ever really fade into a crowd, but that’s not the point. Under normal circumstances, getting a correction is a good thing. It means the teacher is paying enough attention to stop and help with your technique. Instead of taking the correction as it was intended, I just withdrew into myself. The teacher is really nice & wants to make everyone a better dancer. Hailey didn’t see it that way. She put it as another tick mark on the running negative tally. It’s exhausting.

All that said, I am seeing my therapist this afternoon. I’m not going to do anything rash or hurt myself. I just wanted to put all of that out into the world. As hard as it is, yanking back the covers & letting in the light is the best thing to do. She could use some Vitamin D anyway.

XOXO!

Of major life events and bucket lists

Everything in life is a relationship. Y’all know I love to make analogies to romantic relationships all the time. Right now, I can’t be in a committed one with dance.

I got a wedding invitation last week. A friend of mine is getting married in October. I’ve had her save the date up on my wall for months. You know how things tend to blend into the background when you stare at them too long? That was the case with me. I can’t take a week off for dance when I need that time off to see my friend get married. I’m also planning a trip up to Virginia to spend time with my niece for her birthday. In the grand scheme of things, I would feel like a horrible person for missing her wedding. I haven’t seen my niece since she was 2 months old. She’ll be 2 next month. I don’t want to put myself in a position where I have to be extra careful with my PTO. Doing the Friday night – Sunday afternoon turn around SUCKS. My friends and family are more important than a week of dance.

I’ve been wasting money for months on memberships that I don’t use. My schedule and my life just aren’t conducive to any kind of lengthy commitment. It’s much better for me to have a drop in card that I can use when I have the time. We need to be in a more casual relationship. It doesn’t mean I love it any less, there are just other things that have a higher priority. I’ve known for a long time that I needed to scale it back. I don’t know about y’all, but I get a heavy feeling in my chest. Now I know where the term “heart sinks” comes from. I try to ignore it, but that doesn’t make it go away. Who knew? I have to accept it sooner or later. It’s hard enough to walk away from a relationship where nothing went wrong. It’s even harder to walk away from a relationship where you still care, but it just isn’t working out. Might as well rip the bandaid off now.

As for fitness options, Boy & I are well on our way to the 5k. We started Week 2 on Saturday. My ultimate goal is to participate in the Disney Princess Half Marathon in February. I’ll be up to a 10k by the end of October. I’ll be up to half marathon distance about a month before the race. It’s definitely a realistic goal. There are tons of apps that will coach you through the various distances. My dad has done everything from a 5k to a marathon and his best distance is a 10k. It can’t hurt to try every distance to see what happens. For all I know, I may turn out to be a marathon runner. Plus, it’s something to check off the bucket list. 😉 If someone had told me 6 months ago that I’d be looking forward to running every week, I would have thought they were insane. I think this “runner’s high” thing is real. Even though we’re panting and sweating out 5 pounds of water weight, there’s still the *high five* fuck yeah we did it!* feeling. So we only jogged for 90 seconds, but we did it. Baby steps.

You remember that comment I made about completing a triathlon? That was a real goal I set back in 2010. I went about it all wrong. I thought because I was doing CrossFit at the time (terrible idea, btw, but another blog post for another time), I was 100% equipped to handle an endurance event. Yeah, no. I burned myself out largely before I even began. I had no idea how to properly train. It’s still something I want to do, but one thing at a time. I *know* there’s an app for that. I doubt I’ll hit Ironman level (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, & 26.2 run), but who knows? I be crazy sometimes. The sprint distance (1/2 mile swim, 12 mile bike, & 5k) is a much more reasonable goal. 😛

Good bye for the moment, dance. It was fun.

XOXO!

Of dancing and dreaming

Y’all, I’m one week away from finding out if one of my biggest dreams is going to come true.

I started dancing when I was 13. One of my dreams was to participate in a summer intensive. Major ballet companies or schools would offer a summer program of varying length and intensity. Because I started at an unusual age, I was too old for the beginner levels. I wasn’t advanced enough to dance with my own age group. Aside from that, these programs were insanely expensive. Most ran well into the $1000 and up range. Due to the circumstances, it just wasn’t in the cards for me.

Fast forward to now. There’s a studio literally 5 minutes away from our apartment. They’re offering a summer intensive in July. It’s 10 days of instruction for 8 hours each day. It’s only $400 which is a STEAL. I have the paid time off available. The only question is one of the other managers. She may have to have knee surgery. If she’s out having surgery, I can’t take those days off. She goes to the doctor next Tuesday and a decision will be made. Until then, we wait.

Dance is a huge part of who I am. I still describe myself as a dancer, even if I barely make a class a week. If I have music on at work, I’m choreographing in my head. I’ll find myself bending at the hip, pointing one leg behind me if I’m leaning over to pick something up. It’s ingrained in me in ways I don’t even notice any more. If I got to do this, it would literally fulfill a dream I’ve had for over 15 years. I choose to believe it will work out. If she does need surgery, it won’t conflict with the program. I’ll probably cry from joy the minute I hit “register”.

Spirituality is a deeply personal thing. Some people pray and attend church services. Some people meditate. Some people light a fire and dance around it during a full moon. My spirituality is connected to dancing. By putting “sit at home on the couch” above “dance”, I’m doing myself a disservice. One studio is on my drive home from work. The other is, as I said, a 5 minute drive. It’s not like I have to go out of my way. I’m not honoring that part of me the way I want to. As the cliche goes, if I want something badly enough, I’ll make time. It’s not like I need to make time in the first place. I rarely have plans after work. “Go home and sit on the couch” is usually top of the list. How is that benefiting me? It’s certainly not allowing me to grow and feel a stronger connection between my brain and my body. I’ll never be dancing Swan Lake at the Met. I can, however, aspire to be the best dancer I can. To reach my Nirvana, if you will.

I believe this will work out. Dreams really can come true.

XOXO!

Of silence and hamsters

An odd phenomenon has been happening in my head recently. Silence. Normally my brain runs a million miles an hour propelled by hamsters on steroids banging on pots and pans. Lately, especially when I’m trying to think about something work related, my brain goes quiet. I’m not necessarily complaining. It’s nice to have a little peace and quiet in there. It’s just jarring. I downloaded a meditation app over the weekend. I think it might actually be working. I’m on Day 3 out of 10. My brain has been more quiet in the past 5 days than probably the past 5 years. I’m not feeling the compulsive need to constantly be doing something. Yes, I have plenty to do, but I’m not in full on panic mode. There isn’t a damn thing I can do about the situation I’ve been presented with. I’ve done what I can. Now it’s up to someone else to do their part. Once they’ve done their part, it’s back to me. I know I’m 100% capable of mastering what’s been laid before me. I know my employee is 100% capable of mastering her part of the process once we have the proper programs and training. I trust my other 2 to keep their systems running without me babysitting them. There have been a few hiccups, as happens, but nothing that has sent me into one of my epic tail spins. I’ll take this as long as I can. There’s much to be said for staying steady with your boss’ boss’ boss asking about the progress of something “urgent”. All that said…

I made the decision recently to scale back my membership at the dance studio. I’ve been kicking myself for “wasting” classes since I renewed the membership in January. I currently have the 30 class / month membership. I called the studio and asked for my activity over the past 3 months. The most I’ve ever used is 14. There’s a lower level membership of 10 classes / month. That seems much more reasonable given my situation. Since I’ve been promoted, things have been far less predictable. Some days I can walk out at 430 on the nose, other days I’m pushing 6. I’ve also discovered the gym in my apartment complex. It doesn’t make much sense to beat myself up over something I love. Earlier today, I was close to texting a (dance teacher) friend of mine and saying “Tell me to grab the ladyballs & try out this technique class”. That doesn’t do anyone any good. My current studio is very squarely in the “recreation” category. The focus is on dance based fitness classes with minimal technique. While the other studio has fitness classes, their focus is more on technique, training, and aspiring professional dancers. As it stands right now, my life doesn’t allow me to consistently go to a class such that I could progress at the rate I want (read – impossibly high standards).

I’ve always been very sensitive to the fact I’m in dance limbo. I started when I was 13, much later than most dancers. I had to take an adult class for several years because I wasn’t at the same level as other dancers my age. I stayed hardcore into dance, progressed quickly, and then stagnated when I was 19. I didn’t take classes regularly again until I was 23. By that point, the technique I’d learned before was all but gone. I haven’t really improved since then. On the flip side, if someone began as an adult, they can devote more time and pick things up more quickly. I was insanely intimidated when I first walked into the training studio. Not only did I walk in late, I walked into a class of people who, as it were, outclassed me. It’s not much fun if I’m thinking “Holy crap, everyone is looking at me! I can’t do this! They’re all laughing! That 10 year old has better technique!”. In the end, it’s fairly simple. If it looks like fun, go for it. If I hate it, no one is going to make me go back. That’s not love, that’s self harm. I’ve had quite enough of that in my life thankyouverymuch.

Maybe that’s where all the hamsters went.

XOXO!

Of the 8th circle of hell and spring springing

I spent over 2 hours at the DMV yesterday for about 2 minutes of paperwork. I brought literally every piece of paper having to do with the DUI. All they asked for were my passport and proof that I completed the DUI class. I had to fill out one of their internal forms and that was that. There were a bunch of teenagers taking their driving tests, so we sat through those litany of numbers. While I’m still convinced it’s the 8th circle of hell, I have my license back. I’m officially free to go wherever I want whenever I want. I started crying as we were walking out from sheer relief. I’m no longer at the mercy of anyone’s schedule or whim. I don’t have to wake Boy up an hour early to drive me to work. I don’t have to beg for rides to dance or circus. I don’t feel guilty for asking any of the above from anyone. I can finally call one place home and instead of bouncing back and forth like a ping pong ball. This comes at a particularly opportune time as my dad’s surgery is tomorrow morning. I’m sure everything will be fine. They told me to go into work as normal. If nothing else, it’ll be something to distract me. I know some people think I’m crazy for not staying home or going to the hospital. Given how my mom has (understandably) been acting because of it, it’s better that I stay away until later. I’ll go see him later in the week when he’s conscious and bored.

Of course, now that I can go wherever I please, I feel overwhelmed with choice. I have three dance studios and the circus classes to choose among. I know I’ll be bingeing on classes this week simply because I can. I don’t know about you, faithful readers, but I have to keep the momentum going. If I don’t go to class right after work, I’m not going to. If I have time to go home and relax a bit, it’s unlikely I’ll be going back out. There are definitely classes I’m interested in at later times, but the odds I actually go are slim to none. Fortunately, there are plenty of options. Classes are constantly rotating in and out or changing times or days. Maybe some days I’ll need to stay late to work and end up being able to go when I otherwise wouldn’t (I had a moment like that on Friday, mildly terrifying). Just see what I feel like taking that day. No need to worry about hurting anyone’s feelings or disappointing anyone. There’s plenty of chances. It stops being fun when I start forcing myself. N’est pas?

We have the door to the porch open. Boy and the kitty are sitting outside enjoying the weather. The sun is just starting to set. This is the kind of weather I could deal with year round. Unlike most Atlantans, I don’t forget how hot and disgusting summer is. What we have right now is ideal. 

XOXO!