A few months ago I found an amazing Groupon deal for three months of unlimited pole dance classes at a wonderful studio called Addiction, and I figured it was an opportunity too good to pass up. I had my first class there in September and jumped back into the constant tug of war between exhilaration and embarrassment. Learn a new move and enjoy the high; freeze during free dance and try to hold back the tears.
I’ve continued to struggle with anything I consider “dancing” or “sexy” — no problem in pole dancing, right? — but now I’ve had three months of constant exposure to the things that make me feel so terribly uncomfortable. Too many times I’ve felt overwhelmed and retreated, literally sitting down in the back of the studio rather than face what I was feeling. But occasionally I’ve tried to keep going in some way or another, usually practicing a specific move or combination just so I could participate to some degree.
I’ve tried to sit with my feelings and ask myself some questions I haven’t been willing to before. What is it about a hair flip or a hip circle that makes me panic? What stops me from moving literally and figuratively? After a while I started to recognize a pattern in the toxic thoughts swirling through my mind, stopping me from enjoying myself so often. Moving like that is for the pretty girls, not me. Moving like that means you think you’re sexy. And how could I think that of myself?
I’m not sure what drives me to pursue the things that are most difficult for me — sign of enlightenment or masochism? — but I still hold on to the dream of feeling good in my own body, able to dance and express myself without shame. It’s hard for me to imagine getting there right now, and confronting these feelings isn’t easy. But I know what staying in that head space feels like. And I don’t want to be there anymore.
My three-month membership ended today, and our financial situation is still strained to say the least, but I know in my bones I’m not done. So I’ve signed a one-year contract with Addiction, and I have no choice but to trust that I can turn things around and absorb the extra expense quickly. It’s a leap of faith and probably the boldest thing I’ve ever done, but I have work to do.
Going forward my goal is to be brave enough to move through my feelings, to do anything but sit down and give up, even if it means I’ll have to let the tears fall, even if everyone gets a glimpse of how much it hurts. Someone recently suggested I try dancing the sadness and resistance I get so caught up in. I don’t know what that would look like or how to try, but I think I may have to walk through the coals to get past this once and for all.
Over the course of the last three months I didn’t slay the inhibition dragon, although I did get a few good jabs in. I started wearing shorts, then tank tops, and then sports bras. And once I ditched my t-shirt, I finally got my leg hangs. Perhaps it was a reward from the universe. Let’s see what a truly free free dance can get me. . .