I am going to want to remember this time. I am going to want to remember I survived. I don’t know how much stronger I am, maybe a little hardened and emotional – maybe, just maybe, a little stronger. Whatever I am, I am still here, fighting.
Often I think, the last year seems like someone else’s story, a Lifetime movie (and a bad one). In the spirit of catharsis, I am giving it life here, now, for all to see, but mainly for myself. If I harbor the pain I cannot move forward. Scars have been left and healing will take time, but I must start somewhere.
I know everyone has stuff happen to them that weighs them down. I do not have a monopoly on misfortune and pain. My things are no more, and no less, important than any one else’s. And I have certainly had good things happen in this year, as well, that I am very grateful for and blessed by. But we all know…the bad stuff sticks and is a lot harder to scrape off.
I have been heartbroken by the loss of love. I have said goodbye to a longtime pet. I have worried over my children and my health. Those things, and more, made me feel helpless and sad. But nothing compares to the feeling of being devalued, the loneliness of being scared to leave your house and the inner torment of feeling worthless…all because a stranger decided one night to violate you in the dead of night. Yes, that happened this year, too. I was raped. There. With shallow breath and trembling hands, I said it.
What does all of this have to do with my flamenco dancing? Nothing and everything. Many days, it kept me from dancing. Other days, it empowered it. I carried it in silence, I tried to embed it into my dance, I tried to push it out of my body and into a flamenca persona, I tried to release it through my fingertips and stomp on it with my feet. This was, most assuredly, not a bump I expected to encounter on my flamenco path. It has changed what flamenco means TO me and FOR me. I have had to dig deep, from within the depths of myself, to get back. And sometimes flamenco has had to wait.
Flamenco is one of my strongest passions. Even though I have been kept from it a lot lately, it still remains in my heart, beating strong. I have a deeper understanding now, more than ever, of how much your pain becomes your dance. I think, now, though, the need to dance for myself is what I feel strongest about. I need to go to class and dance until I am a sweaty, achy ball of nothing. I need the soft moments to grieve and I need the “f” you moments to say, well…”f” you!
I have to let go of some things; comparing myself to others, feeling low over a bad night, how fast I progress, or don’t, feeling pressure or stress to “get” it, proving myself because of my age, having unrealistic expectations, etc. These things are not flamenco. They are distractions.
What matters to me, what is at the core of flamenco, is allowing my pain to embody me – letting it carry itself into my dance; wearing my heart on my sleeve and feeling good about what I am portraying – feeling confident when I step on the dance floor knowing I have earned every moment and letting people feel that from me-that is flamenco and that is what I will work hard for.
It is hard. Everyday. It is hard. Every night I pray for strength. Every morning I wake up crying. Some days, I don’t think I can make it through, but I do. I somehow manage to rise and hope today will be better. All I can do is keep living, one day at a time.
I do not want sympathy. I am sharing this in such a public way simply to share my truth. It is a means to my purging, my recovery and a step towards regaining some inner happiness. I am unwilling to be defeated. I am taking my power back.
“I survived because the fire inside me burned brighter than the fire around me.” -Joshua Graham
Yes, I want to remember all this. I want to remember I survived a lot of things that could have broken me. And I want to remember my flamenco waited for me.