Although I’ve always dreamed of being a performer, someone glamorous and sexy and exciting and passionate, somehow I allowed myself to become the smallest version of who I really am. If I allowed myself to perfect anything at all, it was the power of invisibility.
Maybe it was the result of a not-so-happy childhood, years of sexual abuse, or years of isolation due to being homeschooled by a single parent without the resources to ensure that decision didn’t haunt me for the rest of my life. Maybe it was a combination of all those things.
Whatever the cause, I reached the point where there was almost no trace left of the real me. I could feel myself slip away more and more every day and it was excruciatingly painful.
After a particularly tough year during which my husband was in a serious car accident and my work stopped completely without warning, I found myself on a much needed vacation in Las Vegas and decided that while my husband was attending a conference I would try something I had always wanted to do: pole dancing.
I had seen the ads for Stripper 101 before and always wanted to go, but up until then I hadn’t even had the courage to say it out loud. I talked myself in and out of going many times, but while I waited for the class I met an adorable older woman who had also signed up. She was lovely and very prim and proper, and I was surprised and elated to see someone like her there. But just minutes before the class was scheduled to start, she panicked and left. And I knew in that moment that if I didn’t start pushing through scary and uncomfortable and embarrassing, someday that would be me.
So I went to the class and did the best I could. And although I was uncomfortable at times — and my high heels were uncomfortable the entire time — I walked out feeling proud and energized and happy. I didn’t realize the full extent of it at the time, but I had taken the first step toward reconnecting with myself.
When I got home I immediately started looking for pole dancing classes even though I knew between our financial and transportation issues I probably wouldn’t be able to take even one class. Somehow the stars aligned and I was fortunate enough to find a great deal on Groupon for eight classes at a local studio called Romance and Dance just when my husband was going out of town, leaving me with our one working car.
Once again, I was flooded with doubt and wondered if I’d made a mistake signing up, but I pushed through and found that even though it’s incredibly challenging physically and emotionally, I LOVE pole dancing. It makes me feel strong and sexy and powerful, even if those feelings are fleeting and coupled with embarrassment and confusion and occasionally frustration. And more than anything else, it’s really fun.
Until I can get back to class, I’m working on my own with a few DVDs and a pole my husband was nice enough to find for me on Craigslist. Thanks, Honey!
This experience has already opened doors to other opportunities I would have denied myself just weeks ago. I’ve even been taking a burlesque workshop with Hells Belles Burlesque — thanks, once again, to Groupon — and although it’s been very challenging for me, I’m proud of myself for trying. And even if it’s a slow journey, I’m hoping it will bring me closer to the woman I want to be, the woman I know in my heart I was born to be. That little girl watching Dirty Dancing constantly, trying to bump and grind with the furniture has to be in there somewhere, right?
I know that I’m not the best dancer in my classes or the sexiest or the most beautiful for that matter. If I’m the best at anything, it’s probably looking nervous and uncomfortable. But I’m here. I’m trying. And I’m hoping that by sharing my journey I can help others find the courage to take the first step toward the joy in being true to who you are with no apoleogies.