“A mere five years ago (which now feels like five lifetimes ago) I was a little puddle of devastated sadness: Thirteen kilograms heavier than healthy, chain smoking and binge eating, lonely and bitter and tired. Oh SO tired.
I had just stepped out of my latest disastrous relationship, once again the victim of mental, emotional and sexual abuse, and felt as though I’d never be able to drag myself from this gigantic black hole I had gotten into. The “relationship” had taken its toll. No matter how I had pretzeled myself to fit my notion of what this guy wanted me to be, no matter how hard I tried and how many times I stood on my own heart and stomped, I had failed. I was quite simply not good enough to be loved.
A dear friend of mine was at the time in her second year of studying the beautiful art of belly dance, and I’d attended a few of her shows, longingly staring at the gorgeous, happy women as they swayed and dazzled to exotic songs. At a tea date with said friend she suggested I attend a beginner class with her. “Oh,” I thought, “I don’t belong there.”
These were strange thoughts coming from a girl who had loved dancing so much in her youth, who had excelled as a student of ballet and other forms of dance. But you see, I felt as though this dancing part of me, along with many other expressions of my feminine beauty, were long dead. I was disgusted with the world and especially myself. There was no hope of ever finding joy again.
I think it was loyalty to my friend and a need to just keep going, that convinced me to try it once, despite my low self-esteem and non-existent energy levels. I also knew I had to take some form of exercise, but after training for triathlons, attempting and failing to beat my body into submission at the gym for months (read “trying to impress the boyfriend”) only to be smacked down a week before the race with german measles, and the resulting inflammation of my joints and weakness of my body just seemed to linger forever.
But I went, if only to reassure my friend that I was indeed “fine.”
Then, slowly at first, but sometimes in quantum leaps, I began to heal and change. I remember the exact moment, one night after dancing, when I looked inside my broken soul and found a little sparkly shred of feminine joy, a promise from the Goddess: Nurture THIS and you will be whole again.
So I did. And it seemed effortless for once! There is something so powerful about connecting with my own perfect body; flaunting its unique quirks and curves with pride and loving each small mastery of that little-muscle-you-never-knew-you-had! After feeling so out of control for so long, I finally began to give myself permission to be. To be fabulous, to be up or down, to be beautiful in my divine sequined bedlah costume or my oldest, dearest fuzzy PJs… To be accepted by ME, all the time.
I began to treat myself with the love I felt I deserved, giving myself nutritious food and adorning my body with beautiful clothing and jewelry, working with the things that made me feel good! I lost 13 kg in six months, by working WITH my body instead of beating myself up for not being “perfect”.
My body shape has been transformed from “heavy legs” and “saddlebags” to curves that I love and enjoy. Or maybe it’s just that I see myself differently, and that what was once ugly and flawed is now beautiful and accepted!
The crushing loneliness I thought I’d never escape is now a thing of the past. When I began dance lessons I preferred being a hermit, staying at home to lick my wounds with a bottle of wine. Nowadays I am surrounded by the most exquisitely beautiful and interesting women, aged five to seventy-five, and although I’m still no social butterfly I always look forward to some social time with the people I love. We don’t just dance together! We throw each other surprise birthday parties. We celebrate new babies, new marriages, new jobs and new milestones. We offer support and love when the world becomes too dark to face alone and we are there to give gentle and sympathetic advice when needed. When our hearts are broken into a million pieces we know there are ample soft hands to hold the pieces together until we are able to heal. When our hearts are filled to the brim with life’s goodness there are many kind voices whispering “Yes! You go, girl!”
We remind each other daily: “You are loved. You are beautiful. You belong. You are a goddess.”
For this I will be eternally grateful.”
I want to thank my fellow student of dance for allowing me to share this letter with all of you.