March 25, 2013

I’ve been taking flamenco dancing classes for about five years, off and on. I’ve taken dance classes before – ballet and tap when I was young, swing and salsa in college and later – but flamenco is my favorite. It’s not necessarily my favorite one to dance but it’s definitely the one I admire the most and the one I would like to use as a metaphor for my life.

When I took ballet, it was always about sucking in your stomach, trying to be graceful, and – even as a young child – not being too large. Flamenco, on the other hand, embraces whatever size or shape (or age) a woman is. My flamenco teacher is constantly telling us to “take up all your space.” It’s about being stable on your feet and your hips, using all the body that you have, and learning the technique in a way that you can impart the dance with all the soul and feeling that it needs.

Another thing I like about flamenco is how empowered the women look. There is a specific look cultivated with this dance, and empowered really is the best word I can think of for it. Women keep their head up, look proud, and don’t lower their eyes for anyone. There’s also the stomping – which is clearly not the official term and my flamenco teacher would be angry with me for using it – that is so cathartic. As wikipedia says (and I rarely quote wikipedia) El baile flamenco is known for its emotional intensity, proud carriage, expressive use of the arms and rhythmic stamping of the feet.

I want to live like that. Not proud in a narcissistic way, but proud in a non-apologetic way. I had to spend so much of my life apologizing for who I was – in words and actions – that I didn’t get to have that proud carriage. I still feel so often (but less and less!) like I’m broken and flawed in an irreparable way that it’s hard for me to feel that I have the right to have a “proud carriage.” I come off as empowered to many people because I’m opinionated and not afraid of public speaking, but that’s not how I feel. I want to have the empowerment inside too.

I also want to feel like I have the right to take up all my space. I don’t want to try to be smaller or shrink into spaces I don’t fit in. I want to take up the space that I take up and stomp if I need to. Again, I think I come across as stomping much of the time but I don’t want to be an angry, reactionary stomper. I want to express myself in stomping if I need to. I want to stomp because I feel proud, empowered, and expressive. I want to stomp because I am beautiful and persevering and have learned to hold my head up high.




Better Than This

March 14, 2013

I have previously posted about my experiences with self-harm, which – while much less severe than many people – was something that was a major coping mechanism for me – coping with so many things: depression, self-hatred, shame, emotional pain, people ignoring or not knowing that emotional pain…  I haven’t talked to many people who can relate, and I usually don’t bring it up because it scares people.  But that’s why the Internet is so great.


I’ve been following a couple of blogs that talk about self-harm (which is known by many names), not as the main focus of their blog, but more as an an aside, or an explanation of background, why the person isn’t posting, etc.  This one hit me especially hard.


I think her title says it all.  We are better than this.  I am better than this.  I haven’t done that in over 7 years now even though at times, it has felt like there is absolutely nothing in the world that will make me feel better as quickly or as thoroughly as hurting myself (and yes, I get the irony). 


I’m grateful for that.


More Anxiety

March 6, 2013

But this time I know why. I’ve been going out with a very nice man (about five dates now). It’s kind of a funny combination of being set up by a friend and by the internet, in that my housemate decided I should date this friend of hers (or rather, that she should introduce us and we could naturally see if anything developed) and then a couple weeks later, he showed up on my match.com profile, figured out I was his friend’s housemate, read my profile and told me all the things about it that he liked, etc.

This man is VERY nice. He pays for my dinners, he tells me how much he’s looking forward to seeing me, he is respectful, he holds doors open, he works around my odd hours and comes to where I am to have dinner. I think he shares my faith and he definitely shares my values. He’s also pretty introverted, which is hard for me because I am more comfortable with people who let you know what they are feeling at all times – those people often annoy me but I’m more comfortable with them.

Also, I take a long time to get to know people. A long time. Even in friendships. Most of my best friends were not people I liked when I first met them (sorry, guys — it’s me, not you). When I think about the dating relationships I’ve been in, I didn’t like the people right away. I wasn’t attracted to them right away. It took a long time. The difference — and I think what is stressing me out — is that those were friends who I saw naturally and so when I was getting to know them I wasn’t worrying about if I should date them. This time I am.

My housemate said something that actually helped. She pointed out that I can say no easily but I can’t say yes easily. It’s easy for me to write someone off – there’s many deal breakers for me. If there aren’t any, and someone seems like they might be a good fit, it’s a lot harder to say yes and takes me a lot longer.

I’m not sure why I’m expecting different things from myself – this is how I’ve always been! But I feel like something’s wrong with me for not having made up my mind. And dating causes me anxiety – a LOT of anxiety. Walking through the anxiety and all those therapy-ish things that people say is NOT COMFORTABLE. But I’m doing it. Hopefully that will be worth something because it is really hard.

Also, there may be something to think about in the fact that a really nice man causes me so much anxiety. Sometimes being a human is just hard.