Once upon a time there was a young mother who had always loved to dance. With no real outlet to satisfy this urge, she went and found herself, somewhat apprehensively, an evening dance class. And so her life changed
She progressed quickly. Was far from technically perfect but had her own style that people seemed to like a lot, for the most part. The compliments rained down and her confidence grew (there was a direct correlation between these two things for course). Dance became her second home. She was damn well rocking it, if she did say so herself!
But then about 6 months into her dancing life, she began to be subjected to a series of events that caused her great emotional pain, confusion and distress. These events extended over the course of many years and would ultimately leave her traumatised and trigger mental health problems that would potentially be with her the rest of her life
This meant that her ability to handle major life changes and trails was significantly reduced.
The young mother fell pregnant with her second child and had to stop dancing; not so much because of being pregnant but because she was too ill with it
During the five years or so the Young Mother did not dance a number of things caused her mental health to twist and morph and became worse in a number of ways. Within no time at all, the Young Mothers self-esteem and confidence turned into dust
At the beginning of 2016 I finally summoned enough courage to go back to dancing.
Whilst my ability had not deteriorated as much as I had feared (which was a huge relief initially) I did not progress anywhere near as fast as when I first began. I could not, and still can not, remember certain moves that were once as effortless as breathing to me.
Frustation, anger, shame and embarrassment…Hot and intense.
I still carry extra weight from having youngest. I say ‘extra’, I mean more than I used to. In my mind my figure was ‘better’ before. I imagined the people I had known muttering
“Hasn’t she let herself go?”
I imagined the more conceited dancers looking at me in disdain and thinking me a fat frumpy pretender. Cue major debilitating body image hang ups like I had never known before
And now I wore glasses too! I imagined a diplomatic
“Hasn’t Kirsty changed?!?”
I thought they made me less vivacious. Though I am still mildly conscious of them (Steaming up, getting knocked..cringe! Cringe!!) I realise now that if I am less vivacious, it’s because of my head not my glasses
The hang ups I now have about my image mean that I spend an average of 1 1/2-2 hours on my appearance before hand, not including things I ‘need’ to make sure are done for me to consider going (hair washing, nails, brows etc). I fret massively over my make-up and what I wear. Sometimes I panic because despite my efforts I’m still not convinced I look remotely human and I can’t, simply can’t present myself to everyone like this!!! I have, once or twice, bailed and refused to go for these reasons. Going so far as to once go through the whole process of getting ready to go out only to spend the evening huddled on the sofa watching tv in a full face of make up
This January marks two years since I first put on my dancing shoes again yet I am still extremely anxious about dancing, even now.
All of the anxieties described above are still very much present. I feel intimidated by dancers more skilled than me, I rarely have the confidence to ask somebody I don’t know (“who am I to ask anyone?? I’m terrible!”), im far more inhibited than I used to be, my first few dances are often shaky due to nerves and though I don’t tend to have a dependency on booze, I must have a drink before I can even begin to relax.
This isn’t me.
The good thing is that my confidence is slowly creeping back. Very very very slowly. Rebuilding my confidence in dance almost feels like learning to walk again. And it’s fragile. Extremely so. The slightest thing can swing the balance either way. A good song and the right person can have me soaring like a firework. The wrong song and an unpleasant encounter will have me suppressing the urge to flee to the mountains and never return.
Only once have I actually fled a venue, and it was back home, not the mountains. And the next week I dusted myself off and went back. When I felt able.
The recovery time from a negative incidents can sometimes be lengthy. It’s a two step forward one step back type thing. Progress is often hindered
I don’t know for sure if I will ever again be the person or dancer I used to be. I suspect not.
But I am slowly slowly climbing my way out of this pit of low self esteem and confidence, at least in this area of my life.
Im a work in progress; Under construction. I need patience and understanding from myself and others whilst this refurbishment is carried out
But I will get there. One day. Eventually…
One tiny dance step and “mans left, ladies right” at a time…