Other Reasons to Dance…

Coming from my previously-declared position of wounded-healer, I have always had a sense of moral duty and fairness.  I identify with the ‘underdog’.  As such, my work history has led me to support people with learning disabilities, and dementia who in my opinion make up some of the most vulnerable groups of people.

It’s not possible to have a life without risk.  It’s not healthy to have a life without trust. It’s how we learn.  We all have the right to make unwise decisions, the LAW says so.  We learn from experience, and we are all vulnerable at different times of our lives.  I would never take some of the risks that I took when I was younger in some instances, and in others, I’m STILL taking those same risks because they are worth it.

There were times when I was a child that I did need protecting though. When I did not have the capacity or experience to fully understand what was happening around me.  Perhaps this is where my sense of justice and protection of vulnerable people comes from?

When you (I/one) train(s) to be a professional, right back at the beginning.  It’s pure passion and conviction. For me, I had an untrained, unboundaried moral compass. In some ways, years of being a ‘professional’ has removed that raw and fearless passion.  In other ways, it has helped me to realise my own projections and co-dependency, and to be more mindful and open-minded when responding to complexity.

Complex indeed is ‘safeguarding‘. The legal process by which we recognise and respond to abuse and neglect of children and ‘vulnerable’ people and it’s EMOTIONAL.  We often hear of children who have died by the hand of their caregivers, of people in positions of authority or trust who have abused that power, but we hear less about the adults who are at risk of abuse and neglect every single day.  We hear less about the people who are working in these complex situations except for some social worker bashing when people are looking for someone to blame and that has led to a lot of fear amongst professionals trying to do the ‘right’ thing.  Serious Case Reviews and Safeguarding Adult Reviews must take place when someone has been seriously hurt or died.  I have read failings within services for having ‘high thresholds’ for intervention points, or ‘low expectations’ of parents as in the case of Baby P.  It is right that we learn from these reviews of course. However, today I read two papers (one of them is linked below) about situations where the service response was disproportionate to the concern, or could not tolerate uncertainty around diagnosis and treatment.  Another important part of the safeguarding agenda is ‘Making Safeguarding Personal’. This is the other side of safeguarding. One that seeks to use the safeguarding process WITH the person, and not DO to them in a paternalistic way.  It has valuable partnership principles at its heart.  The two sides of this remind me of the two parts of myself.  Hot moral passion, and considered, informed response…

I could write and write about this, but the trigger point is that I have been training the topic a lot recently, and writing a chapter about it, and watching distressing videos and talking heads about specific issues of abuse and neglect.  I have had two people (professionals) disclose their own abuse in a training session, and I have heard passionate, dedicated staff grapple with the individual lives within which they are engaged.   It takes it’s toll.  It can be done badly. It is a huge responsibility.  I am often in tears before 11 am reading case histories about Female Genital Mutilation, or torture, Mate Crime, modern slavery, child sexual exploitation… yet I MUST pursue it.  It feels so important to me that we get it RIGHT.  That we are awake, and aware, and diligent.

I realise that my stomach churns, my heart aches, my throat closes, my brow wrinkles, my eyes cry, my mind races and wanders. My imagination playing those distressing scenes over and over.  So I dance…

I dance because I don’t want to become weary or numb or burnt out in the NHS.  I dance because my body HOLDS that shit.  It resonates with my stuff, but it’s NOT my stuff.  I feel the pain and the shame and the horror and the rage IN MY BODY.  So I dance…

I dance because it’s the only thing I know how to do to actually MOVE stuff on.  It’s not something that can be out-thought. It’s not a cognisant thing, its a visceral thing. So I dance…

I dance because as I sweat, and pant, and swirl and stomp, I am not only releasing that stuff, but I am bringing in some new energy.  That as I lose myself in the music I am holding some balance, out-and-in.  Breath rising and falling.  Eyes-closed.  No one is watching.

This has become a practice. Can you see how essential and important it is?  It’s such an underestimation to call it ‘Dance Meditation’. Some days its essential self-care.

So I’m off for a dance!

If you want to join my next session it’s on 19th October at Lydney Town Hall 

via Case study (Baby H) – Improving practice in safeguarding at the interface between hospital services and children’s social care: a mixed-methods case study – NCBI Bookshelf

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