About three months ago I was sitting at home trying to figure out how I could get to another pole class and watching some amazing pole dancers on YouTube when I stumbled on to Sheila Kelley’s TED talk and discovered S Factor. I had just discovered that my feminine self — or what Sheila calls your “erotic creature” — wanted out and that pole dance was a great way to start exploring all the things about myself that had been dormant for so many years. And here was this amazing woman who danced beautifully. Not to tease, not to look sexy, but as the physical embodiment of a woman who was awakened, sensual, playful, and powerful.
I knew right away I wanted to experience S Factor for myself. Although I knew I couldn’t possibly afford it, I went directly to SFactor.com to investigate further. And to my surprise, an offer for two complimentary classes popped up. Even if I could never go back, I would have the opportunity to take another pole class and I could find out a little more about this intriguing studio.
A short while later a very sweet woman named Renee called me to schedule an appointment, and I told her I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time so I was letting her know that I’m not working and won’t be able to buy a membership right now. She said she understood and appreciated my honesty.
After listening to Renee explain what we could expect from our S Factor classes I found myself wishing I had the option of signing up, but there was absolutely no way I could afford it, so I tried to quiet the little voice in my mind demanding to be an S Woman.
While the woman seated next to me happily started filling out paperwork to become a member Renee said we would figure out my schedule in a few minutes. And to be honest, I started to get upset. I had already faced the embarrassment of acknowledging my sad financial state, so why was she pushing the membership like this? I think I said something along the lines of, “No, we wont,” and, again, Renee said we would figure it out in a few minutes.
And then Renee informed me that she had discussed my situation with the office manager, and they had decided to let me take classes for a month for free. I’m sad to say my very cynical mind couldn’t accept the offer right away, so I started looking for a trick. Would I be signing a contract saying I’ll become a member in a month? Would I be charged retroactively if I didn’t end up buying a membership? Where was the catch?
After some discussion it started to sink in that these people might just be doing something kind. Sure, they would stand to benefit if I took classes, fell in love with S Factor, and became a lifelong member. But I had already told her that wasn’t going to be an option a month later, a few months later, or probably even a year later.
I was still trying to understand why I would be given this opportunity when I suddenly felt very moved by this act of generosity and began to tell Renee a little bit about how I had come to feel so disconnected from myself and my body. Years of molestation had impacted the way I saw myself and the world around me. The self-loathing grew so strong it nearly overtook every dream I ever had. Made me hate my voice, my face, my body, my thoughts, myself. And ultimately I allowed cruel people to treat me badly and put myself in hurtful situations because I felt I deserved it.
This went on for years. And I had no one to turn to. My mother had her own demons she wasn’t facing and couldn’t be much help to me or my siblings or to herself. My father had left when I was a toddler and basically disappeared. And because I was homeschooled I didn’t really have friends to lean on either.
When I was 16 I ran away from my unhappy home and ended up in a very unhealthy relationship that caused more heartbreak than any teenager should ever know. After that it took years to get to the point where I even thought I deserved to try to be happy.
And so here I was, 12 years later, trying desperately to find the woman I had always wanted to be. And even though I knew it would be a struggle, I was — and always will be — so grateful I was given the opportunity to go to this very special place where the women are amazing toward one another and make you feel safe, where the lights are kept low so you can be gently reintroduced to the body you’ve never learned how to love and appreciate, where your erotic creature can begin the slow crawl toward a more fully integrated you.
I thanked Renee and left. And once I got to my car I started crying. The thought that I might find a way to feel good about myself for the first time in my life or that anyone might care to help me do that shook me to the core.