Dancing With Myself
The twelve of us move about the room wildly. There are drums and maracas and other instruments I have never seen before but as they’re passed to me its as if I’ve always played them. At some point I find myself in the middle of everything, bouncing and fist-pumping – a whirling dervish clothed in flannel and spandex and legwarmers.
I can still dance.
But I am getting ahead of myself.
* * *
If my brother and I inherited any similar trait from our parents its our father’s utter inability to let a dance floor be. Put either of us in the vicinity of an open space and a decent beat and there is no way you are keeping us still.
Now, that’s not to say either of us are good dancers (sorry Tyler. I love you anyway). But we give those awkward moves of ours our everything and we will go at it until the DJ sends us home.
[I am also liable to get on stage with any band willing to let me get near a microphone, but that’s another story for another post.]
* * *
When I stopped drinking, I figured I had also given up dancing.
For as much as I love to dance, I also have extremely introverted tendencies and an incredible case of shyness. So historically, getting my dance on also meant getting my drink on. And I was fairly certain that whatever limited ability to dance I possessed disappeared along with my desire to reside in that altered reality any longer.
Just about 6 weeks into my sobriety I found myself in Floyd for the first time. I also found myself in an ecstatic dance workshop.
I’m still not sure how I got there. But I got there.
And a woman who was a stranger then but is now a sweet confidant and teacher led the group of us from slow swaying to wild gesticulating and to this day if I close my eyes I can remember the mass of us laughing wildly as thunderstorms poured down around us and lighting crashed into the trees and the music steadily grew louder and I realized suddenly that I was sober and I was dancing.
I could still dance.
* * *
Saturday night was my firm’s annual holiday party. I had intended to go.
In the end, my continued discomfort with my appearance, combined with the fact that I am a sober vegan and had no date (for the 6th of the last 7 years) made some quiet time with Hope win out over an evening hiding in the corner with my seltzer water trying to avoid eye contact and conversations about the state of my health.
I am still really bad at being in public. There is a little circle of sweet friends who I feel comfortable around, but for the most part I still feel self-conscious and awkward out in the world. So I avoid it a lot.
At some point in the evening, someone posted a video of the party on Instagram. There was laughing and music and dancing. So much dancing.
I put the phone down and picked up my book and thought to myself, “I wish I could still dance.”
* * *
It’s funny, isn’t it? The way the things society tells us we need to do and be can continue to shriek silently at us long after we know they are not truly for us.
Tonight a sweet friend caught a glimpse at my forearm – she had forgotten about the quote that is affixed there – “It’s so awkward to be a phoenix.”
It so true. Its awkward, this sobriety thing. This survivor thing. This recovery thing. I’m relearning life, slowly but surely, and I’m not always entirely certain that I’m not the kid who needs some extra tutoring in order to make a passing grade. I still don’t look like myself. And what it means to act like myself is new to everyone who knew me before the crash and burn – so as I rediscover myself I also have to reintroduce myself to the world and that is awkward too.
Beautifully, indescribably, awkward.
* * *
Sunday afternoon I finished my first weekend of yoga teacher training. We are in a pretty heavy module about destruction and purification and the creation of space and so with thirty minutes left in our time together, our teacher announced that we were going to close things out with a dance party.
My immediate reaction was “oh no.”
I still feel incredibly awkward in my body. I still do not like mirrors or any reflective surface really. I am still not anything approaching confident. (See above.)
So dancing around a room full of beautiful yoginis seemed a little bit out of my comfort zone.
If by a little bit you mean miles upon miles.
But just like in that tent, something shifted as the music moved from slow and rhythmic to wild and free. My self-consciousness slipped from me like a satin sheet and any worry I had that I would no longer know how to move my body went with it.
At some point it struck me – the way it often does these days – out of nowhere and in a burst of uncontainable joy – this is my life. This. This one. I am alive. I get to walk my dog and practice yoga and sing in the car and take a bath and read a book and pray.
I can still dance.