We are so afraid to be imperfect….we are so afraid to be vulnerable….we are so afraid to just be human. We all experience trouble and heartbreak every single day, but it’s those who actually let themselves FEEL these things that are able to work through it and come out better on the other side.
Suppressing our feelings because we are afraid of what others will think of us or believing thoughts like “I’m not allowed to feel sad. I’m too strong for that.” Or “Get over yourself, people are dealing with things MUCH worse than this.” Or, “You need to be perfect all the time so that people will love and accept you” are such unhealthy ways to handle hard times. First of all, you ARE strong. Second, people are dealing with super serious stuff all around the world that most of us couldn’t even imagine. However, that does not take away from what you are dealing with right now. If you are going through something difficult and it is taking away from your happiness, it’s IMPORTANT for you to let yourself feel it and get to the root of the problem. Ignoring a problem never ended well for anyone.
Oh and that part about being perfect so that you can recieve love…..total BS. The ones that love us will stick by our sides no matter what. If someone ever gets upset with you for expressing your feelings and being a little less than chirpy all the time, you definitely don’t need them in your life.
So you’re probably wondering why I decided to switch out my usually upbeat and happy posts about food and dance to something a little more serious. This post does relate to dance…..but it’s a little deeper than that. The past month has been one of the hardest I have ever experienced; I’ve dealt with some difficult things emotionally as well as physically. Physically, I’ve been having serious back pain again that has caused me to be out of work, dance, and basically anything besides eating, restorative yoga, and watching Netflix. On top of this, my heart has been pretty broken lately over other situations.
Both of these things combined with the stress of life as an adult was just too much to handle at once….so I pretty much lost it. And by lost it, I don’t mean freaking out and throwing things (though that might have felt pretty good) but instead shutting all the blinds in my apartment and throwing myself into the safety and comfort of my bed because physically and emotionally, that’s all I could do. The word depression is such a taboo word, but I think it’s something everyone deals with from time to time. I am definitely not chronically depressed, but a combination of situations has put me at a pretty low point (which is many times referred to as situational depression). It’s short lived, but still not fun.
Even though this seems like such an easy thing to do, it took a while to let myself get to this point. For days I fought the urge to cry it out, to let myself feel, to accept that this was happening. It took one of my amazing friends telling me that unless I let myself really FEEL these emotions, I would never move forward. “You just need to cry,” she told me. BEST. ADVICE. EVER.
It’s really hard for anyone to undergo an injury and stress, but I think it’s super hard for dancers because our bodies are our art form. Without them, we have nothing to express our creativity and passion with. I get so FRUSTRATED with my body. “Why won’t you just do the things that I need you to do, move the way I need you to move, look the way I need you to look?!” It’s this constant inner battle that seems to always stay suppressed inside but really comes out when I have an episode like this that takes me away from dance completely.
Every time I’ve experienced this back pain, I’ve tried to work through it as quickly as possible and just push past. That’s what everyone tells us to do right? Fight through the pain and suck it up. Uh, no. Not this time. Doing this will eventually lead to an abrupt end to the thing I love most, and I AM NOT going to let that happen. I’ve seen my Mother deal with her dreams being crushed her entire life because of something her body couldn’t “PUSH” past. I want to do everything I can to make sure this doesn’t happen to me. If that means taking some time off, changing jobs, letting go of my usual workouts/busy schedule and trade it for chiropractic appointments, gentle yoga, and therapy….so be it.
This is one of the hardest things for someone with a love for dance or any other athletic passion; so many of us experience situational depression after an injury. It’s like this huge part of us is missing and we aren’t allowed to have it back until our body decides we can. For me, I definitely don’t want to take time away. I was getting to such a great point, moving to Charlotte, coming back from Millenium after placing in the Top 3….things were going great. But when everything seems to come crashing down, we just have to pray and really seek what is going to be best for us in the long run.
So I have this all figured out right? I’m totally okay with this? HA yeah right. As I’m writing this, I’m just starting to come through the other side. This week is the first I’ve had in a long time where pain hasn’t ruled my day along with negative self-talk. At one point, I had to leave work early almost every single day from back pain…and guess what, no work=no $ for rent or dance. I couldn’t go to the studio and practice my new dance routines, and then I had to sit at home and deal with this all on my own. So NO, I don’t have it figured out. But I’m reallllyyyy trying to work through it and writing to all of you amazing people really helps.
I recently got to take a day trip with one of my close friends to Asheville, and hike up to beautiful Max Patch that is ” a breathtaking meadow with 360 degree views of the Blue Ridge Mountains (yes, looks JUST LIKE Sound of Music). Talk about reviving the soul. The entire time I really just tried to take it in and enjoy every moment. God’s beautiful creation was overpowering, and it helped me to realize that things WILL GET BETTER. We don’t stay in the valleys forever. We continue fighting for what we want and then we find ourselves on top of an incredible mountain, soaking up the beauties and joys of life that we didn’t even know existed.
Like I said before, sometimes expressing your inner conflict is one of the best medicines of all. I am writing this to work through it myself, but I also want to help any of you that might be going through the same thing. It’s so common for dancers; I was even talking to one of my dancer friends last week that was experiencing inner conflict due to dance decisions and just the direction she wants her career to go in. As dancers, we are constantly looking forward, trying to better ourselves, and reach these amazing dreams. But when we physically can’t…..what happens then? So yes, I was at a standstill for a while, but I’m coming back stronger from that. I’m going to work SO HARD to get back to FULL mobility and strength this time and not let my ego get in the way.
We all need to work on not blaming ourselves for things that are out of our control. Instead, accept that this is where God has put us right now and can either teach us an incredible lesson, lead us down an unexpected path, and help us to grow as a person….OR we can let it destroy us. Which one sounds better to you?
I love you all, Thank you for being there for me and sending love and support from every direction. I’m sending it back to you double.
Bent but not broken…not even close,
Ashlyn Tori <3
-This post was sponsored by Serengetee