Here is a guest post from Michelle D. Howe, a contributor to one popular blog called iwokeupyesterday.com. I simply asked her to write what was on her heart and that the post be related to dance. I’ll admit, when I first read it, I was uncomfortable. As Michelle commented, it broaches some touchy subjects. But I’ve decided that in my world, there is room for all kinds of dancers (Michelle was a clogger!) with all types of beliefs, experiences, hurts, and healings. Please be aware this post is from a Christian perspective because that is also a part of Michelle. I celebrate anyone and everyone speaking their truth. I also honor Michelle’s willingness and courage to risk talking about such difficult subjects. -Stefanie
The Secret Life of a Dancer
By Michelle D. Howe
My Grandmother, Mimi
I’ve been a dancer from the time I could walk. I started performing at the age of 5 locally as a clogger. Google it if you don’t know. At the age of 8, our group performed at the World’s Fair in Tennessee in front of 10,000+ people.
In middle school, I ventured into the dance core and continued throughout high school. I loved the feeling of the performance. After many hours, days, and weeks of practice we could finally show off our hard work. Hard work that led to winning many band and dance competitions back in the 80s.
Believe or not, but my grandmother was a dancer too. Not just any dancer but an original New York City Rockette. Before becoming a Rockette, she performed in Vaudeville and on Broadway. Later on in life, she owned her own dance studio. My Dad and his sisters took part in classes and yearly performances.
Unfortunately, my grandmother died in the early 70s and I never got to meet her. You see she ended up taking her own life. As a devout Catholic family, this was shameful and unforgiveable. I didn’t grow up Catholic and don’t understand its ways but what I do know is my family made a mistake when they decided to rid my grandmother’s life and memories to future generations.
For many years, the grandchildren were told that my grandmother died of emphysema. She was dying of that disease and I’m sure she was in a lot of pain and suffering. But in the end she made the choice to end her life before it was time.
Family secrets are awful. I know every family has them. Why do we keep these secrets?
Is it because they are shameful?
Is it because they are embarrassing?
Is it because it might create strife in the family?
Or maybe is it because we want to deny that “thing” so it doesn’t show up anywhere else in the family.
What’s that “thing?” You know the family secrets like alcoholism, sexual abuse, drug abuse, physical abuse, depression, and _________________. You fill in the blank.
In high school, I was date raped at the age of 14. In the last couple of years, I have worked through a study called “The Wounded Heart” by Dan Allender. This book is for childhood victims of sexual abuse. It has been a process of healing and also understanding why I do and say the things I do in different situations.
Today I have a new found freedom working through this study and have had the opportunity to lead others too. While going through the study with my mentor, my Mom joined us so that I could get her support. During our meeting, my mom shared with me that my Grandmother, the dancer, was also raped when she was about the same age.
Why did I not ever know this? Why was her life hidden all these years? Knowing this information would it have helped me? What kind of help was available to her to heal?
NOTHING I IMAGINE!
I could not imagine going through the rest of my life and not bringing light to my pain. What a fake life!
What a lifeless life!
That’s not a life, that’s hell in my mind.
In John 10:10 it says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
I have only experienced the true abundant life in God when I shed light to my past and allowed Him to do His work in me.
What do you desire to let go of and leave behind as you move into the New Year? Do you want your pain, bitterness and resentment to be passed to your future generations? Let me challenge you to not let another day go by living in this denial and anger.
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 1 John 1:5-7
One of the best gifts you can give yourself for 2012 is the gift of forgiveness. Forgiveness extended to yourself first then to others in your life today and in the past. Forgiveness doesn’t mean giving in or forgetting. It means you are allowing yourself to get out of the bondage of the hurt in your heart to allow new found freedom and dreams to enter. Dreams lying dormant just waiting to blossom.
Today I only dance for fun with my girls who are 10 and 11. What I do love is singing! I didn’t grow up as a singer but as I have healed God has created something new in me. What a gift!
Many Blessings, Michelle D. Howe 1Cor. 6:19
Michelle writes on a collaborative blog called http://www.iwokeupyesterday.com and is a leadership coach/seminar facilitator at http://www.everydaylifeline.com. If you desire support in shedding light to past hurts so that you begin living out your dreams, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a complimentary coaching session.