In March of 2013, there was a night that made me finally reach my limits with dance. It made me realize that I needed to leave, but I had no idea when or if I would ever return to my true passion. I was in too fragile of a mental state to handle the toxicity of that world. It was causing me more pain than enjoyment, and it was putting a strain on my recovery.
During these past four years, I have gained so much clarity into who I really am as a person. I have realized how strong I truly am. I have reached a place of stability in my journey through recovery. After four years, I finally felt ready to try and be reunited with dance.
I was terrified. I sat at home trying to do my homework and could feel my feet twitching followed by incessant fidgeting of my hands. My heart began to pound and I started to bounce in my seat. The anxiety was hitting me worse than I expected. Tears began to form in my eyes and my throat began to feel rough. I ended up having a panic attack and crying hysterically for about twenty minutes. I was contemplating not even going to dance class.
I asked myself what it was specifically that I was so afraid of. I was worried that I would get the look from people who thought I was too fat to dance. I was scared I would be horrible since it had been four years. I was absolutely terrified of the feedback I could get. If people told me I was too fat to dance when I was at my lowest weight while sick with my eating disorder, what the hell were they gonna think now!? I know for a fact I have gained a significant amount of weight since then. I was told back then I should lose weight in order to succeed at dance. So was it even possible I could dance and be at least decent let alone enjoy it the way my body looked now?
Dance had always been my sacred place, my outlet. It broke my heart to close that door for the past four years. I have endured so much pain and traumatic experiences when it came to that world for me. Was I crazy to willingly choose to step back into that? I didn’t think I could handle any more body criticism when it came to dancing. This felt like my one chance at redemption with myself. My one opportunity to heal my relationship with the thing that got me through so many difficult years where I had nowhere else to turn to. I knew if I had bad experiences again that would be it. I couldn’t keep putting myself through that. It was time to make or break my relationship with dance.
I stepped foot into that studio and heard Bruno Mars playing in the background. I walked over to the waiting area and peered into the studio. The studio was filled with people of all different ages, shapes, and sizes. I had never seen so many different types of bodies in a dance studio before. I had never felt like I actually belonged in a dance studio until then. I was used to always feeling out of place and sticking out like a sore thumb. I was definitely the youngest of the bunch by probably at least ten years, but that was the only major difference. There were people in that dance studio who actually had very similar bodies to mine! For once I was not the ugly duckling in the dance studio.
The teacher gathered us in a circle and we all went around and introduced ourselves. Then she said, “There is absolutely no diet or weight talk of any kind. This is meant to be a safe space for all bodies. This is meant to just be a fun way of moving your body in an environment where you don’t always feel like the fattest one. I want everyone to take this class at their own pace and do whatever it is you need to do in order to care for your body. I’m so excited to be dancing with all of you!” I felt a huge sense of relief and comfort. I couldn’t help but smile most of the class. My body felt free and at ease again. I had forgotten how much I missed warmups and across the floor and learning a combination. I forgot how much fun a dance class could be. Everyone clapped to the beat during across the floor. There was constant encouragement going on. People were smiling and hugging one another. No one was being criticized if they messed up. Everyone was just there to have fun and move their bodies in a safe place.
When class was over I walked to my car and couldn’t stop smiling. When I got into my car I started crying only this time they were happy tears. I couldn’t have possibly hoped for that class going any better than it did. I couldn’t have possibly felt more comfortable in a dance studio. I couldn’t have possibly asked for a better way to be reunited with dance. Now I look forward to every single Tuesday night and I enjoy every minute of the hour and a half I am in the studio. I love getting ready to go to class. I love how I feel during and after the class. I LOVE DANCING and I finally feel accepted into that world.
Waiting those four years was absolutely what I needed to do. Now I have reintroduced dance into my life and I have looked into what other classes I could take because I want to dance more than just once a week. My eating disorder may have severely damaged my relationship with dance but now I am in the process of healing it. My eating disorder took one of the most meaningful aspects of my life away but now I have taken it back. I know I can dance no matter what I look like. Dancers come in all shapes and sizes and they are all beautiful, including me.