My current funk is a pretty bad one. Crying at work in the bathroom, feeling fragile. Obvi, my concentration is shit, trying to focus through this fog. A lot of effort is being spent appearing normal, and I am not quite sure I am succeeding. Given the gravity of the situation, I have been resorting to some pretty extreme measures:
- Forced social time with ppl I feel safe with –> bc my shadow’s #1 goal is to isolate me and drown my emotional brain with narratives that imply I am unlovable. As my grasp on reality weakens, there remains certain ppl I know love me unconditionally, with whom I can be my unwell self without judgment. Dynamo. My cousins. Allie.
- Lots and lots of downtime, to recover from the strain of socializing with those people –> It feels embarrassing to require 1 hour of alone time for every hour spent in public, but so it is right now. I NEED the time-out, without it I am filled with despair. I need to recharge from the effort of appearing normal, a Herculean task.
- Exercising with Coach 3 times a week until my mental health stabilizes –> No bailing, under any circumstances. That means skipping dancing on Tuesdays, getting my shit together at work to leave “early” at 6pm on Thursdays, and setting my alarm on Saturday mornings.
This weekend, I went to the gym and as expected, almost died during Coach’s workout. That gym really is my happy place.
Everyone who walks into the gym is looking for an escape from the outside world. Yes, the same can be true of a yoga studio. But here, people are looking for a reprieve from the tangle of thoughts, emotions, and frustrations that is a necessary by-product of being alive through the action of hitting an inanimate punching bag over and over again. It’s a safe haven that allows a person to work through whatever they need to work through, surrounded by people doing the exact same thing. The particulars of each individual’s tangled mess is irrelevant; everyone has preoccupations, and the gym is our way to work through our shit. People who walk through the door are looking for the freedom of a few hours when socially acceptable constraints are no longer required. The punching bags become the recipient for every harsh word that was bitten back through the day, every slight that was received, every injustice, every worry. For a few hours, the world stops pushing, and we can push back as hard as we want, without any consequences. Bliss.
I hadn’t realized how corrosive the dance environment can be for my body-image: my team-mates describing me factually, never meanly, as “too heavy for so-and-so, well of course you are tired, you partnered with Vanilla, you are used to dancing with Blonde, she’s light as a feather, watch your back, don’t get injured“. I hadn’t noticed how often now I scrutinize my appearance wondering if I really DO look that much bigger than all the other girls, maybe I am in denial, maybe I am wrong for thinking I am healthy. Dance IS an aesthetics based art. There are norms, the audience must find the dancers appealing etc. At social events, guys ask the girls they find most attractive to dance, until a girl earns herself a reputation for being a fantastic follower – and even then, looks factor heavily in the balance. That is all understandable. It just fucks with my mind. I need the counter-narrative provided by my gym, where skinny is NOT good, and muscles are celebrated: when I, or any of the girls, lift as much as some of the guys, it is praised, by Coach AND the other guys. One of the best boxers at the gym is an Olympian and two-time Worlds medalist: the male boxers boast if they survive a round of sparring with her, “Yo man, her hooks to the body! Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiick, I need to find a way to generate as much power as her. Wow, she’s amazing!” A strong body is a sexy body. Strong body, strong woman, fuck aesthetics, own your power, be an Amazon. That’s the vision celebrated by Coach & the guys at the gym.
On the way home from the gym, I stopped at my favorite place in Montreal, Park Lafontaine. Just to feel the sun on my face, enjoy my feet in the cool water of the lake and sit. Doing nothing. Taking a breather. A time out.
Saturday, I wanted to go dancing. Bc of the team, and all the practices and shows, I no longer go dancing often for dancing’s sake. I felt dread at the prospect of strangers, proximity, connection, uuuuuugh. So I applied one of my new rules: spend time with someone I feel safe with. Blonde on my team makes me feel safe. I do not feel judged when I am with her. She encouraged me to attend the dance event, so I did. I felt bloated and gross, and multiple partners told me I was too stiff, to relax. I was not having fun, always irritated with my partners, and frustrated with myself. Blonde pumped me with shots of alcohol and encouraged me to keep trying, and by the last hour of the night, I found myself smiling while dancing. It took me 4 hours to get to that space of openness & vulnerability required for dancing, but I made it! #smallvictories
Sunday, I spent the morning with Dynamo and his wife. I love them so. But 3 hours of love and brunch wiped me out. I sought refuge chez moi, and spent the afternoon coloring.
Overall, this weekend did me good. It was hard, at times, so hard. EXHAUSTING. But I did what needed to be done to manage my shadow, and found moments of contentment. Contentment is not the same thing as joy, my IG Crema filter is still firmly in place, but this weekend, and all it’s small victories, gave me enough ammunition to stop my shadow from changing the filter to Moon (black & white).
Right now, that’s worth celebrating.
Recap of the current funk: