Turn on a movie for the boy, who refuses to dance with you at home.
Go into your office. Shut the door (most of the way). Turn on the music -choose a guided 5Rhythms playlist because, let’s be honest, it’s been a while since you’ve done this.
Begin with Body Parts, a warm-up. Gabrielle Roth’s voice talks you through your dance, warming your body from the neck down. And here you rediscover your first truth: top-down warm-ups are not for you. You need to start with your feet. It’s just how it is. Next time you’ll do the reverse of the cues and start at the bottom. But you keep going this time, being careful to keep your feet grounded and relaxed while you move your upper body.
The music shifts to Flowing, and your son comes in demanding cheese. You pause the music, give him his cheese, and go back to the dance. Flowing comes naturally to you, moving you smoothly in circles and figure eights. Part of your mind keeps reminding you to relax and ground the feet because you know what happens when you let yourself tense…you get hurt. And you don’t want to get hurt.
Staccato. You make your movements sharp and distinct. You try to make them strong. But you feel small and weak and you’re easily distracted. You keep going as best you can. Hip thrusts, chest isolations, punches. Xander demands cheese again. You sigh, pause the music, get the cheese, and go back to the dance again.
(It’s a good thing he’s cute!)
Chaos. Possibly your favourite. You love the wildness and unpredictability of this dance. This is where you release your baggage. Usually. Today you find yourself turning inward and noticing the walls that are still standing. The fear, the terror of getting hurt, the watchful guardian, Caution that keeps you from releasing fully. The sweat-dripping, matted-hair-flying wild woman? That’s not you. You can’t remember the last time you were fully and completely her. How can you re-learn to sweat? you ask yourself. You’ve come a long way from a year and a half ago, when you couldn’t dance AT ALL. But how do you break down this fear? The song ends before you figure it out.
Lyrical. You move with the rhythms of chaos, but make everything lighter and gentler. But Xander, who is a bottomless pit today, comes in asking for more cheese. You talk him down to a carrot because, really, there’s only so much cheese you’re willing to give him. You go and slice the carrot and give it to him…and go back to the dance. You feel disconnected and frustrated and a little sad. Why is this so difficult? you ask yourself. You feel tempted to skip the rest of this song, but you don’t. You keep moving…and wondering where the sweat is. It doesn’t occur to you until the end of the song that you’re breathing shallow, stress-breaths…when you’re breathing at all.
Stillness. The music slows. You begin to breathe. In…out…in…out. Deeper. You move gently, smoothly. You start to stretch gently, marveling at how tight your muscles are. Shouldn’t they be warm and pliable after all this dancing? you ask yourself in frustration. I don’t understand. You move to the floor and find some comfort lying on your back and breathing. Tears come for a moment at the sheer helplessness you feel in this body that is still so guarded, so limited by fear. All the work you’ve done, and there is so much left to do. The music continues and you make yourself a promise: to breathe with intention every day, to seek opportunities to sweat, be it hot yoga or sauna or long walks, to keep moving your body and make it stronger and more powerful so that the watchful fear will be appeased and you will trust your body again.
The music ends, and you slowly get up. Xander is asking for water. You give it to him and you sit down at your computer. You have a blog post to write and a plan to make. A plan that involves breathing, moving, stretching, and sweating…and breaking down walls. There is so much left to do…but you’ve come a long way already. And you’ll get there.
Yes, you promise yourself, you’ll get there.