The Rollercoaster and the Raft

I have all this tension in my body.

My left shoulder is really bothering me, as are my hips and my neck.

I’ve tried stretching and using a foam roller to do self-myofascial release but so far it isn’t helping. I’ve made an appointment with my favorite massage therapist but it’s not until Thursday afternoon. But I’m not gonna let it stop me from dancing, at least this is what I tell myself. You see, the tension may not stop me from going to a dance lesson, but it is preventing me from really dancing, if you know what I mean.

Before I get too much further in this post, I want to say that I’m officially out of my funk. It took a while, and a bit of a cry, and some quality time with my friends. I’m so grateful for my friends, by the way. Having authentic people in my life who love me, see the best in me, want the best for me, and believe in me is such a treasure and I cherish more that I can say. Also, life is a roller coaster. Just like a roller coaster, you don’t want to get off at the middle of the ride! Some times are up. Others are down. I can’t be in the “on” position every moment of my life. So, this post is winding and twisting, in terms of emotions, but that was what I was feeling for that particular section of the ride. For this moment, right now, I’m coasting happily along. I don’t know what loop-de-loop may be coming, but I’m grateful for this moment of contentment and satisfaction.

In any case, two nights ago I went to Marieta’s syling class at Dance Starz. It was a really good class, and many of the other girls mentioned that they felt they learned more in this particular group class than in many others they had taken. We did a little warm up, a little bit of a lock step around in a circle, and then on to Samba. In the beginning, I rocked it. But as the class progressed, I got more and more sweaty, more and more out of breath. Now some of this I attribute to asthma. Since I got sick in New Zealand the congestion has been lingering and I was audibly wheezing last night. The stupid HFA rescue inhalers they’ve mandated to save the environment (HFA’s replace CFC’s) just don’t work. I’ve got a doctor appointment tomorrow to try and get this under some more control but this doesn’t change the underlying issue which is that I’m fat and out of shape. I’m probably better off than I was a few months ago, but still, the hole I’ve dug myself into is deep and it is gonna take a while to get out of it.

It was like a mini-Inna class. At one point, doing voltas, I had to stop. I felt that if I took one more step I’d have fallen because my legs would have given out. I was gasping and frankly it just really pissed me off. It sucks so hard to be in this bad of shape. I can’t do what I want to do because my body can’t tolerate it.

I’m sick of hating how I feel in my own body. I’m sick of hating the way it looks. I’m sick of being the biggest girl most places I go.

Sometimes, when I’m in my Greatness and feel good about me, who I am, I can just say forget about the physical stuff and go out there and rock it. Right now the phyiscal stuff is severely limiting me.

So is the tension in my body.

I showed up for my lesson with Ivan and we decided to work on the Rumba showcase piece. First we warmed up doing the basic steps.

As per usual I’m working very hard. Glistening pearls of sweat formed upon my furrowed brow while my lungs worked on overtime. We completed a song’s worth of dancing and Ivan said, “Not bad, but you stopping and starting.” He demonstrated how my hips do not continuously move but rather tilt choppily. Also, shrug my shoulders in an effort to move my hips. It is a constant issue in my body, my shoulders. I store a lot of tension there and they tense up while I’m trying to force a movement.

It is counterintuitive, I know. If I tigthten up, I actually block the movement’s flow. Also, I can’t generate any movement if there is no space for the body to move. And yet automatically, mindlessly, it is what I do.

So Ivan says, “Breathe. Relax.” We practice “doing nothing” dancing where I’m not trying. I start to feel emotional and tears well in my lower lids.

He tells me it is better, that I’m dancing on my own two feet and not using him to move myself but I seriously can’t wrap my head around it. There is something in me that’s convinced it needs to be hard…it must be hard…it must be work. I’m much more comfortable with that idea, so much so that to “relax” brings tears to my eyes.

What is this fear to really let go? What is the fear that prevents me from comitting 100%?

In any case, last night when I left the class, Marieta told me I did well. I think she could tell I was feeling defeated. But I couldn’t hear the praise. I could only hear the loud voice screaming in my head of what an idiot I am for letting myself get into such a horrific health state, that I am lazy for not doing more, that I’m spineless because I caved into old habits and patterns. Great, I got a compliment, but it means nothing because I failed to complete the class. I coudln’t even hang in for the entire thing. Another lady who had been on a private lesson also said to me that I was great. “Yeah,” I responded, “for 30 seconds, I was awesome!” We laughed, but to me it is not enough. I want to be able to dance that way for as long as I desire, not just 30 seconds and then be completely spent.

Like, what is it in me that won’t let me win at anything? That no matter what I do or how good I do it always has a criticism, a judgement, a denial of happiness to share.

Marieta was really sweet, though. She told me to enjoy the journey – to quit making it a horrible torture, like she used to do to herself. She said that I’m not the only one who wishes her body could do more. She said she wished her body was more flexible, and that she could stretch and do some things, but at some point her body is built how it is built. That I should try and enjoy the journey, every step of it.

I have do admit that I did’t shift that night, but it still meant a lot that she took the time to try and help me refocus on the blessings contained in the dancer’s journey. And even then, while wallowing in my self-generated pit of dispair, even then I knew that the feeling of being defeated wouldn’t last. Nothing ever does…whether it feels good or bad.

I am so attached to how I am feeling. When I prefer or like how I’m feeling, I want to hold onto it forever. When I dislike how I am feeling, I want to push it away, make it disappear. Neither is possible. Yet I try and hold onto how I prefer life to look, even when life has other things in mind.

It reminds me of a Zen riddle. If you use a raft to cross a river, what should you do with with it once you reach the other side? Carry it with you? Of course not! It has served it’s purpose. To continue to carry it would only burden the carrier. Why then do we carry our wants or dislikes with us for so long?

Well, I’ve finally let go of this particular raft but I’ve been dragging it behind me for a few days now. It was exhausting. But now, I’m feeling lighter and happier. Glad that particular portion of the rollercoaster is behind me.

2 thoughts on “The Rollercoaster and the Raft

  1. You have a gift with words and storytelling to create perspective on events.
    I have a question for you – if you saw someone else on the floor who was unable to complete a class for whatever reason ( asthma, age, weight, skill, handicap, whatever)- what would you think of them? What would you say to them? Would you judge them in the same way you judge yourself? Would you see it as a deficiency or a part of their growth and path? What would you tell them when they said “yess but I WANT to be able to do more!”?

  2. loveablestef says:

    Ellen, thank you so much. What jucy questions! I love it. It is always easier for me to be kind/compassionate toward others and sometimes I just need to get out of my head and pretend like I’m talking to someone else. I’m going to answer your questions in a post. What a great coach you are! I am truly touched by the fact that you (and others) have been so engaged with me during my process. Thanks for caring. It means a lot.

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