I don’t know what it is about Bellydancing, but every time dance I feel better. It happened again tonight and I’m just hoping I can hold onto this feeling.
Ever since I started accepting monthly donations on my blog I’ve been out of sorts. Sometimes it’s worse than others. My anxiety, which felt like it had been gradually dissipating over the years has come back full force. And it’s not just that I’m anxious, it depletes my confidence and self-worth.
It feels equally emotional and physical which makes me wonder if it isn’t partially menopausal. The last couple of days have been the worse as if my old insecure self has risen up, like a zombie out of its grave and taken me over.
I’ve been trying to understand it, to figure it out, by doing the things I’ve learned to do when I feel this way. By talking about it, walking, doing my work, meditating and going inside myself and asking for help.
And I think I do understand what triggered this bout of anxiety.
It has to do with my beliefs that I shouldn’t really be able to succeed. That success is for other people, not me. And if I found myself doing well, I should take a step back and make room for someone else to succeed.
I learned as a girl, never to do better at anything, than boy. And as I grew older, until I met Jon, I found that my doing well was met by anger, ridicule, and dismissal from the men in my life. I also had a mother and a good part of society reinforcing this belief.
So, this fear of doing well, of succeeding is a part of me on a very instinctual level.
Talking to Jon about it this morning, I feel like I came to understand it a little bit better. And later as I meditated on it in my studio, I felt strength, through words, rising in me.
I am Maria Wulf, I said out loud, I am an artist, I am responsible for my life.
I repeated these words again and again. As if introducing me to myself for the first time.
Because that’s what if felt like.
As if I hadn’t caught up with who I am now. My old self and new self weren’t integrated. There wasn’t one Maria living inside my body and mind, but two. And they were at odds with each other.
I drove to my bellydancing class hopefully, knowing how good I feel when I dance, repeating out loud, the words that came to me in meditation.
I’m at a threshold I thought to myself. If I go back it’s like death, if I stay where I am now, it’s purgatory, a no man’s land, oscillating between darkness and hope. But if I cross the threshold I get to live my life more fully. With all the joy and disappointment, courage and responsibility that it takes. A life that frightens me so much I can’t even imagine it.
And now after an hour and forty-five minutes of dance class, I feel, for the first time in weeks, like myself again. Like the person I’ve become in the last 10 years, not the person I used to be before that.
My mind and body are clear, free from anxiety.
I feel like I worked my way to becoming aware of the threshold I’ve been living under for the past few weeks and that tonight, dancing, I stepped through it, onto the other side.
“Do you think I can hold onto it.” I asked Jon as we ate dinner. “This is who I really am, I feel like me again. Maybe I need to dance every day. I’ll write myself a note that says, Fucking Dance Maria! to remind me.”
I know it’s not just one thing.
There isn’t an easy solution, no magical thinking, no silver bullet. Anxiety knows where and how to find me, it probably always will. But I’ve added Bellydancing to my list of things to do when I feel myself start to slip away.
Maybe dancing balances some chemicals in my body, or maybe it’s the class itself, the comradery, feeling safe and welcome like I belong, even though dancing doesn’t come naturally to me.
I imagine it’s both and everything else that’s good and fulfilling in my life.
I’m going to go to bed now. I’ll ask for a dream that will help me imagine what’s on the other side of the threshold. I’m not looking for a rainbow and a pot of gold, but maybe some understanding and acceptance of who I’ve become, who I really am now.