It’s my girl’s sixth birthday today. Somehow, out of all the shonky past turmoil and paths that could have led straight to disaster – I managed to birth a smart, kind, generous, savvy young woman. She was born into water having been receiving Reiki from myself and my friend through a very straightforward and lovely labour. I feel very proud and very blessed.
See, these type of things are easier to connect with for gratitude when it is the very DAY that things happened. I often NEED these landmarks to allow a moment for pause and to realise that it is so easy to sit stupefied in a head of absolutes without realising the progress. ” I NEVER”, “things ALWAYS”… A busy head that is always striving and trying and driving can be exhausting. For a long time I have realised that I am just trying too hard. Against some impossible standards. It’s a really good intention to be the best person you can be. What’s wrong with that? But I’m also trying to realise and work with how this striving can lay me open to the perfectionism problem. Perfectionism is really very damaging. There is no place for reward, celebration, relaxation, acceptance, joy, rest or peace when I am striving and trying too hard. Trying to craft and sculpt and control and drive everything and never getting ‘there’; the punitive commentary running the show always with a demeaning, scathing, cruel, fearful script replaying endlessly.
Usually, I run for solace to food, drink, spending, screen addiction – you name it – if it’s bad for me, I’ll do it – to escape. Sometimes because it’s respite (getting drunk/spending money) and sometimes because I’m angry or afraid or ashamed or grieving (food). The result of course is that I just make everything worse. In my desperation to get away from my feelings, my critical voice gets bigger and stronger and the self-loathing gathers momentum, my weight spirals, compounds the guilt and loathing blah blah blah. On it goes.
So what does this have to do with dancing? This is a dancing blog isn’t it?
Of course, just like so many overweight people – it’s NOT ABOUT FOOD – it’s about feelings. Depression = Rage. Anxiety = Grief – just for me – I’m not saying this is the case for everyone, but I’m learning it is for me. I’ll do ANYTHING to avoid feeling hurty-feelings, but cumulatively, this has got me into a pattern that is no longer OK. I know that this is an inside job.
Dancing – what has this got to do with dancing~?
Dancing is the place that without words, without having to look someone in the eye, without someone else trying to fix or solve me I can not only FEEL my feelings in the moment, but I can actually MOVE THEM ON.
With loud music all around and everyone dancing with their eyes closed, as is the method with Ecstatic Awakening Dance, if I need to stomp out my rage – no one gets hurt. If I need to cry, I am not alone sobbing into my pillow with the floor falling away beneath me, no-one can hear me – I can’t hear me! And then, instead of days and weeks and months of flatline low mood and hopelessness – it’s gone. I’m clear.
I suppose this is what ‘normal’ people do? Feel-Express-Release-Move on?
Recently I went to the Wild Chocolate Club. I just love this. The tunes are bigger, the session is longer, there are lights and raw cacao and a general buzz as it’s a sober version of going OUT out. We dress up (even though no-one’s actually looking at anyone LOL) put on our best dancing feet and get stuck in.
As this has developed more into what I suppose you could call a ‘practice’ and as I have got more used to sober dancing as both a Punter, and as an Ecstatic Awakening Dance Teacher, my imagination, or inner visions, or journeying or whatever you want to call it have become more profound.
This is my testament to how when I ‘Feel-Express-Release-Move on’, life actually stops being so sad and hard, and starts being joyful. THIS is when I can genuinely be in my space of gratitude and abundance. It’s not fluffy though, never really is for me. I have not, as yet, chosen for things to be easy.
The last Wild Chocolate Club unexpectedly produced in my mind’s eye the image of a noose. Take a breath now – a heavy moment approaches!!
This ‘noose’ has hung over my head from the age of about 13. However, THIS DANCE on THIS DAY presented this symbolic noose to me, but it was like a fantasy image – I was pretty scared thinking that maybe this was it, finally I was losing it and going mad. It came with a really powerful memory of my over eating and how it had a grip on me in adolescence in a different, but intensely damaging way.
The noose represented a choice. It was time to decide to leave, or stay. No more allowing my head to play with old adolescent scripts. It was time to realise (or maybe to commit to?) that the only way to stay balanced and happy was to promise to go with ALL my feelings and be KIND to myself about feeling them REGARDLESS of how unjustified, selfish, greedy, frightening, unbearable, lonely, overwhelming they might be. But I knew I had to MEAN IT.
It was super hard. It meant maturing. Taking responsibility. Not being a victim any more. Not calling myself ‘damaged’ or ‘broken’. I realised that my dysfunctional story had in itself because a comfortable place even in it’s anguish.
Symbolically, I felt that I had to take my necklace off, and dissolve this noose along with my adolescent self in order to embrace me NOW and not stuck in the past. So I sobbed, and my fear and sense of stupidity rose up and I let it go into the ground stomping with the music playing loud in my ears and people stomping all around me. And I was not alone. And I was strong. And I was whole. But I felt like someone had died. I was left with a sense of loss and I wasn’t so sure what to do with the quieter me.
Since then, I find this ‘quiet’ little connection with myself exquisite. Just a little more tuned in to the ‘quiet’ me. Perhaps this is what peace feels like? Just ‘quiet’ – not judging and criticising and flailing around? Of course, life doesn’t change, and it will take a while to unburden myself of the 100 MPH life that I have created to allow no opportunities to be still and feel anything. It’s not all ‘healed’ now, all better, move on. No orchestra or crescendo. Just a gentle willingness to be kind to my self as I learn not to panic whenever I FEEL something.
So yesterday – I thought it’s time to release some more from the past. To focus on me, here and now, and what I can offer in servitude from all this grace and compassion.
I decided to start offering dance classes here in the Forest of Dean where I live. I have concentrated everything in Oxford, because that’s where my friends are, that’s where I work, where I was born, that’s where I understand the networks and know where the rooms are. But it’s not where I live. I moved here to be more in Nature . To allow myself to mature and develop spiritually, but what I have created is an intensely stressful double-life.
I am an exceptionally well-trained and experienced therapist aren’t I?? So what’s holding me back? I bravely posted in three Facebook groups that I have been following quietly within the alternative communities here. I asked for advice about location, interest and room hire and I had responses IMMEDIATELY from loads of people excited about a class in the Forest.
I am so happy to think that my future is open, exciting, possible. So glad to share this insanely transformational dance practice with people. I’m really looking forward to holding a space where we can be wild and feel all those feelings without having to explain, justify, intellectualise, fix or solve them.
‘Feel-Express-Release-Move on’ = DANCE. Just dance…
Dance with me?