You Lie Me

Alright readers.  I really debated about whether to post this one or not.  But you know what, I’m nothing if not honest, authentic, and transparent.  So, to honor these aspects of myself, I’ve chosen to share what has happened in the aftermath of the Desert Classic for me. 

Please know that I wrote this a few days ago and have already processed a lot of it.  I feel very strong, very focused, very motivated.  Really, everything is quite positive at the moment and I’m excited about the future.  Sometimes growth and change is painful.  Sometimes facing ourselves and our shortcomings is painful.  But only in facing these truths, being objective about ourselves, can we then make the conscious choice to change.

And in the days this past week after this conversation, change I have!  I have been on my eating plan like no kidding.  I have been going to more dance classes.  I am down more weight, making it a total of 52 pounds less than my life-time highest.  And I’m just getting started.

I hope that you will see, as I do, the love behind all of this.  I hope you will see that the universe is providing exactly what I need to get me to where my heart really wants to go.  

I’m grateful.

“I don’t want to dance with you again competitively until you look different.  You lie me.  You lie yourself.  They was thinking of us like they did that one couple that did the solo.”

My stomach twisted as if someone were wringing a wet towel.  I remembered the couple of which he spoke.  They were so inappropriate, so ignorant, so atrocious.  The man had poked his female partner on the shoulder to ask her to dance.  It was so odd that many people began laughing, including the men in charge of music for the competition on the stage, and a pro at the table beside me.  I heard a snicker barely disguised as a cough.  If that wasn’t enough, the couple then proceeded to perform a Rumba which I’m sure in their minds was the sexiest thing on this earth, but from where I watched was just plain awkward.  You don’t grab the lady through the crotch to lift her aloft.  It’s bad form.

In any case, I got the analogy.  Ivan and I had tabled our discussion until after the competition.  I knew something was amiss, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.  I knew we were placing poorly, generally last, no matter what.  But whatever.  I mean, I know I look different from the rest of the dancers.  I know that it is part of the package.  This is the game I signed up for.  These are the rules I agreed to when I decided to play.  I am responsible for my choice.

I was more unsettled by vague feeling that Ivan just didn’t really want to dance with me out there.  I was really concerned that I am a poorer dancer than I thought.  Like, do I have a completely inaccurate idea of myself?  That sucks.

Because, you see, I got the impression, from Ivan, that I’d probably do pretty well in the competition.  Based on the way I move.  I honestly believe he thought I’d do well, or else I do not believe he would have let me go to competition.

But I didn’t.  Not at all.

“What I thinking to be happen, it happen zero.  Nothing.”

“What did you think would happen, Ivan?”

“I thought maybe you’d win some silver level.”

Suddenly I feel better.

“Oh, I thought I was dancing really poorly.”

“No, it not this.  You dancing fine.”

But at the competition, when it became apparent I wasn’t going to be placed well, I think it really affected Ivan.  Me, I was like, well, that kind of sucks, but whatever.  I can’t do anything about it.  Disappointing, maybe, but let it go.  I told Ivan at the time to “just do some fun stuff in the open dances,” thinking, “I’m probably not going to place well so just go out there and have as much fun as possible, to just dance the best I can and let it be.  I’m just not dancing as well as I thought I would.”  But to him, he began to feel bad about it, and then so did I.  And it isn’t so fun to dance with someone who you think is embarrassed to be dancing with you. (Which, for the record, he wasn’t – we had another conversation later and cleared all that up.  The voices in my head are pretty nasty sometimes!)

“They tell me, other people in the bathroom or wherever, ‘She dancing so well.’  The last one I want to punch him.”

“I am seeing we are not placing well, and I am thinking, thinking, what could it be?  I am thinking and thinking, and then I know, but I don’t want to know.  So I think some more.”

We both know.

It’s my weight.

It’s my fat.

The message between the lines was, “Ivan, your student is dancing so well, but what a shame she is so fat.  You kind of look ridiculous out there.”  I don’t think anyone actually said this out loud, but it was implied.

“We doing something artistic.  We doing dancing.  You have to making lines.  It’s aesthetic.”

My lines are muddled by the mass.

“And you not ready.  You can’t doing the dances.  You too tired.  You start strong then poop out.  You not even ready for dancing in the studio.  You have to be able to sweat and go there first.”

It’s humbling, but true, all of it.

“If I no care, I no say anything.  Just let you do any competitions you want, get the money.  But I do care.  I want to going to Emerald Ball with you, I don’t want to wait, but I want to know who I am going with.  We so competitive.  But you lie me.  You no change.  You look the same.  You lie yourself.”

It may seem harsh, but you had to be there.  This was not said to make me feel bad or with any sort of negativity.  I actually really appreciate Ivan for being so honest.  I appreciate that he spoke his truth.  I genuinely believe we will be a better partnership because of this conversation.  I don’t think many people could have a conversation like this.

And boy did it hurt.

His words, “You lie me,” cut me to the bone.  But, he’s absolutely right.  I’ve not created results in my body.  But staring into his eyes as he said this, man, it was so uncomfortable, so painful.  It’s hard to face myself straight in the mirror sometimes.  But this hasn’t been a secret.  I’ve been coming to lessons the same size for a while now.

“You have to showing me you changing.  Maybe just 20 pounds.  Maybe this isn’t the best place to be talking about this?”  We both laugh.  We’d walked over to the McDonald’s by the studio for coffee.  Even at a time like this, Ivan has a sense of humor.  But he’s serious.  And I know it.

The bottom line is this:  Ivan’s not going to dance with me competitively until I show him I am changing.  My body has to change or he will not play.  Oh, he’ll dance with me.  We will still do lessons and all that, but at an NDCA competition, no.  Again, it may seem harsh, but really, it’s just what I needed, and it was said with pure intentions.  Ivan knows how competitive we both are, and how good we could be.  Even when facing these tough truths, Ivan really made me still feel like we are a team.  That it’s not just me that has to change.  We have to change.  Both of us.

And I love him for it.

Why?  Well, I checked in with myself.  I thought about what I really want to do with this ballroom dancing thing.  I could totally just do it for myself.  I could do it for fitness.  I could do a showcase here and there.  But I really asked myself, and the truth is, I want more than that.  The truth is, I want to be a strong competitor.  And, the truth is, to be a true contender, some things have got to change.  This is just fact.  And the truth is, it’s important.  I’ve tried to deny how important my body is, to cover it up with dancing well, and technique, and expression.  But none of this can compensate for my fatal flaw.  It’s the thing that will be noticed first about me when I walk into a ballroom….until it isn’t.

So anyways, I want to be something more.  I want to change.  And, also, I need something from Ivan too.  I will not dance competitively with him again, not until he can be proud to be dancing beside me, no matter if I am not as thin as the other dancers, no matter how the judges place me. Just as his is, my line in the sand is also lovingly yet firmly drawn.

So, I don’t know when my next competition will be.

Prior to the Desert Classic I thought it would be Galaxy.  Now, I’m not sure.  First, I have to change physically enough that Ivan sees it and becomes willing to dance (this doesn’t mean I have to reach my ultimate goal, just make a noticible change – Ivan is interested in competing ASAP).  Then I have to be convinced that he will not be ashamed of me whatsoever.  I must feel that he will be proud to dance alongside me period end.  That may or may not happen in a month and a half.

But this I also know:  When we do show up, we will be a force to be reckoned with and we will both be transformed.

I am grateful that the universe is providing exactly what I need to get where I need to go, even if it smarts.

I can still feel the love behind it.

And looking back on dancing at the Desert Classic this year, I have mixed feelings.  Part of me feels completely embarrassed, like, of course we were stupid to show up in the shape that I am (not) in.  What delusional world were we living in?  What were we thinking?  We absolutely were like that strange couple that did the Rumba, awkward and atrocious.  How ignorant I was, he was.

And the other part of me is a little bit sad Ivan didn’t realize how much my weight might affect things before we went.  Part of me wishes he could have continued to believe I’m awesome like he does in practice, and be supportive of how I move, regardless of what others might think.  Part of me thinks I’m courageous for getting out there and dancing, anyways, because I love it and it makes me come alive.  How many people would go do this if they were 100 pounds overweight?  It’s hard enough to do when you are a string bean.

Perhaps I’m a fool.  Perhaps, I’m an inspiring example.  Perhaps I’m a little bit of both.

And regardless, I am thankful for the message.  I get it.  Finally, a lot is at stake.  Finally, enough of a price is being paid that I am moving.  As Ivan said, I have to “do something drastic.”

We will see how drastic (healthfully) I can get in the next weeks and months because now finally my butt is on the line like never before…and honestly, for me, this is something to celebrate.  For too long I have been in my comfort zone and settling.  I have not striven to improve my instrument (my body), I have not taken this thing on with all that I am.  But now, the thing I love doing most will be withheld from me unless I change.  So I must change.  Because I am not willing to give this up.  I could just do showcases and practice.  I could just dance for myself.  But I want more.  I do want to compete.  I want to be a competitive ballroom dancer, even if only amateur (some of the high level amateurs are dang good!), and to truly be competitive, my body needs a real makeover.  And if this is the price to play, I am finally, honestly, willing to pay it.

Hallelujah!  And can I have a band-aid for my heart, please?  lol.

Actually folks, my heart is already healed.  I had a great lesson today, the subject of a future post.  I will keep you abreast of my progress and continue to share my journey….warts and all.  And know this too.  After parting, later in the day of this conversation, I got a text message from my favorite Bulgarian.  It simply said “You so strong girl.  I believe you.”  And you know what?  I’m finally starting to “believe me” too.

Love, Stef

15 thoughts on “You Lie Me

  1. Oh, Stephanie. My heart hurt so for you, as I was reading the earlier portions of your entry. Boy, do you ever have some tough love in your life. I think you are correct when you say the Universe is sending you a message, even though its chosen vehicle seems to have been a tremendous punch in the gut. Be sure to take pictures to document this rollercoaster of a journey you are on. You have the elements of a most profound book in the blog entries, and you’ll want visual documentation to go along with them.
    A bit of practical advice: Don’t include foods you dislike in your diet plan, build in more protein than you think you need and start doing some strength training. Maybe consider taking a 3-mo. vacation from Ivan to allow time to work on yourself. You could dance at a social studio just to keep your hand (feet?) in until your triumphant return to… what is it…Dance Starz?

    Remember how many people admire you and how many lives you touch.

    • loveablestef says:

      Thanks Marian, I appreciate the kind words and support. Part of my wariness about this post is that it is hard to convey how it all went down…it was actually all in an actually very sensitive way. I honestly believe Ivan has my best interests at heart and wants people to be able to see me, and my dancing. That isn’t what is necessarily being seen at the moment. In any case, he and I are clear and on the same page. If I felt bad about it, I probably would look for another instructor but at this point, that is the furthest thing from my mind. Now is the time to lean in, dig in, and push! I have no intention of stopping progressing with my dancing while on this other mission and actually had a brilliant lesson with Ivan today. It’s all part of the process. It should be interesting! Stay tuned 😉

  2. Paragon2Pieces says:

    My heart hurt reading this. I can’t find the right words, so I’m just going to ask…

    How can I help? I remember that you got a fitbit or something similar for your birthday. Are you still using it? I have been thinking about getting one for a while (my own habits could use a lot of improvement)–we could check up on each other and give each other a hard time if we get off track. I know that’s not motivational for everyone. Let me know what you think.

    • loveablestef says:

      Hi Paragon,

      You are so sweet. The FitBit ate it in the washing machine a few weeks ago…I forgot to take it off my bra..oops! But the support I will take! I’d love to be accountability buddies, if you want to. We’d just need to get clear on what we’d hold each other accountable for. And, yes, it hurt initially, but it’s all good, all part of the process, all part of the plan. I’m honestly in a place of gratitude and focused determination around it all. Message me, if you want, and we will come up with a plan! Xoxo.

  3. Kim says:

    Stefanie, I found you through Ellen (SpeakerinHeels) and she has often told me of your dancing and your stories. I am a new follower, not sure what took me so long, but i also wanted to give you some words of encouragement and support.

    I am torn with my reaction to the tough love and the way you are judged at the competition. I have always been a overweight and was a competitive figure skater my entire childhood, despite not being the size 5-9 typical competitor. You should be judged on your talent and your abilities, not how you look, going back to that adage “don’t judge a book by it’s cover”. I give you a tremendous amount of credit and take encouragement from what you have accomplished in putting yourself out there and living/breathing/doing what makes you happy.

    Keep up with it – and continue to do what makes you happy. If your enjoyment comes from dancing, dance;if it is competing, compete. The joy and happiness you get from it trumps whatever anyone else may think, do, or say. Please know that I know harsh, even if honest, words can hurt and it may take a bit of time to regroup; but do what you need to do for you. [you can ask Ellen I am better with advice than I am at taking it :)]

    We are all on this journey together and I love that you have the support of all your followers. Keep your feet moving and enjoy the journey. Each step may not be exactly how we plan,but it gets us to a place where we are more confident and secure in our path.

    • loveablestef says:

      Hiya Kim! Yay! So glad to meet you and love what you have to say. Yes, this would suck if I didn’t love it or want to do it, but I SO do. Thanks for sharing your experience with skating, I really feel you understand what it is like to put yourself out there when you don’t fit the norm. But my heart for it is bigger than the obstacles. I’m on my way to the next evolution. I’m excited, and even more so now that I get to share the journey with a new friend….any friend of Ellen is a friend of mine 😉 thanks for reaching out. -Stef

  4. Aurora says:

    Wow–this was another amazing post, Stefanie–and I’m really excited for you, for the place you’ve found yourself in, right now! 🙂

    I must admit, when I read your opening, I was ready to kick Ivan’s tail–but you quickly cleared up what he meant…and I found myself thinking that he’s really showing, yet again, what a terrific teacher he is–the kind who’s not afraid to be straight with you, when you need it. You are really very blessed to have him in your life!!

    You’ve said you’ve already processed this–so I won’t belabor the point, but I would like to say that while you might not have been dancing your best–I’ve seen you dance (on video), and I can assure you that you DON’T look like “that couple” you mentioned. Yeah, you’re going to stand out at a competition–and yes, given that competitions are judging according to very rigid unwritten rules, your weight could count against you–but that’s not the same as not looking good on the floor–and you’re graceful and expressive–and people who aren’t competition judges are just going to be impressed by what you can do–and be awed by your courage…since most of us are far too motivated by what other people think of us.

    So–WAY TO GO, for competing. And AWESOME for the way you and Ivan talked things out. And ROCK ON, for your ephiphany about the next challenge you’re going to take on!

    You are such a wonderful role model! 🙂

  5. Alaina says:

    I applaud your honesty in this–and all–your blog posts, but especially this. Even though I could feel the hurt in Ivan’s words, I feel absolutely certain that he only cares for you. The best teachers and athletic coaches I had during my pre-college years were the ones that didn’t take any nonsense. I owe much to them and found that if I ever became a teacher of any kind, I’d be just like them.

    Weight is a sensitive issue, and I wish I could share some advice or sympathy regarding it, but I can’t. I CAN cheer you on, and wish you well. Best wishes, Stef! 😀

  6. I am thrilled to see your courage in the post and that the tenor of all the comments are so supportive and understanding. With love and wishes for all the best in life for you, Hugz, Ellen

  7. Jade says:

    I am so proud of you and of Ivan, Stef. You are finally on the right track with the right mindset. And not only that, but both you and Ivan are working as the team this should be.
    WE are ALL part of a fantasy world and sometimes we lose track of reality. It is the hardest thing to see the truth and then that truth hurts.
    I see people who are overweight all the time, and I wonder …..How could they let it get so out of hand, are they healthy, are they happy? Trust me, heath is my number one concern.

    I am happy you have moved past the hardest part of all and are on your way to get in better shape.

    • loveablestef says:

      Hi Jade,

      Thanks for your comment and moral support. I guess I just want to say that the weight isn’t the problem. I mean, yes, of course it is an issue and profoundly affects health and quality of life, but it isn’t THE problem. It is a symptom of THE problem. People who love themselves, are purposeful, don’t do this to themselves. It would be one thing if I were larger but healthy and okay with myself. I do think that that is possible. But in my sitation, I haven’t been happy for a long time. Trust me, the struggle has been present since I can remember. I held the pendulum so tightly in the restrictive spectrum for many years that eventually it had to swing to the other side. I’ve wanted balance for a while. I just haven’t been able to gather up the resources to make it happen. I haven’t been ready. Doing the fat thing has been what I needed to do. I’m going to choose not to judge myself for needing to put on these extra layers of protection for the past 10 years….I had my reasons…That’s not to defend it or say it was the best coping mechanism, of course it isn’t ideal, but it was the one that worked for me. I’m just happy that it is time for the armor to come off!

  8. caityrosey says:

    I feel really proud of you both. You weathered a really tough and honest conversation about a sensitive issue and you’re going to have a better, more open relationship with your teacher because of it. I battle my own weight issues (I don’t know a single woman or dancer who doesn’t). You give me courage.

  9. […] some extra pounds.  Her incentive?  Dancing.  From reading her post about it, which you can read here, I have to say that the triumphs that make us feel the best about ourselves arise from nastiest […]

  10. […] What the hell am I doing, especially after the deep talk Ivan and I had after Desert Classic here, and my honest-to-God desire to not go to a ballroom competition again until I look different??? (I […]

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