Friday, September 16, 2016

Fat Girl On A Bar: My Incredibly Failing Body

Summer was good. I made all my trapeze goals. I got stronger, and it showed. I have definition in my arms and am starting to get that low line of hard muscle in my thighs. For a long time, I didn't feel strong and it was a strange feeling. While I've never been the poster girl for being fit, I've always found myself to be relatively in shape. I like doing physical things from biking to hiking. And right before I got pregnant with R I discovered the pleasure in conditioning my body. But then shit feel apart when we moved here.

Yeah, depression happened but other things too. My body hit forty and sputtered out. Once I managed the depression, my next step involved feeling strong again. But I hit roadblock after roadblock. I haven't talked much about this but I live with a bit of pain. My joints ache often and I have flare ups about three months that make it hard to even get out of bed.   When I started to run again my knees went first. I'd rest them but as soon as I started up the pain returned. I sadly realized I'd likely not be able to run anymore. Then I started having sciatica pain which put an end to all exercise. I tried to walk because I read that you should move. Holy hell the pain. I hobbled around our neighborhood feeling miserable. Where was the strong person I used to be?

Trapeze turned everything around. Well, that and PT for the sciatica. Sure I still have pain but trapeze helped me to seek ways to make it better. Stretching taking care of the hip stuff,  and I discovered that exercise actually helped the other pain. If I pushed myself everyday, the flare ups weren't as bad and the daily pain manageable. I wanted to be strong for trapeze and I worked for it. Worked hard. And it happened.

The strong woman returned.

I started running again with no knee pain.

And then a couple of weeks ago, I woke up with intense ankle pain. I iced it, taped it, and after a few days it seemed better. I went to trapeze. It hurt but I could push through it. A few days of fine and then I woke up and couldn't put any weight on it. Even resting it hurt. I tossed all night in pain. I hobbled around for a week. No exercise. And the other joints started to hurt. My fingers stayed slightly bent as straightening them hurt. My elbows. My shoulders.

After seven days, I figured out what I'd done. I collapsed my arch. The injured foot has a visibly smaller arch than the other. The tendon that runs along the inside of my ankle hurts a great deal. I'm going to need more PT and likely an orthic. I might be able to save what little arch I have left. I could likely train to run again but I'm not feeling so inclined. I'm just happy to get back to the elliptical and my weights.

All this set the stage for what happened last week in trapeze class. Like I said I've been in pain for about ten days. I missed a trapeze class already so I really wanted to make this one.  But I wasn't at my best. We practiced our individual routines put together a couple of weeks before. I could do all of my routine but the mountain climber. I needed it to move from candlestick to perch. Mountain Climber is this move that involves one knee hooked over the bar, you drop your straight leg fast so fast that in theory you propel yourself up. This involves grabbing the robe aka letting go of the bar on the upswing.

That night. Rough. Already feeling weak and in low grade pain, I did the move over and over. I failed over half the time. When I did manage to get the rope, I fumbled around barely able to get myself up. It was as Piper used to say "Not pretty. Not beautiful." And the whole point of class was working on making it look good. When we were done, our instructors asked us to perform for our classmates. I couldn't do it. I was the only member who didn't do it. But I knew if I got on that bar, I was going to sob. As we got ready to go, classmates tried to talk to me but I couldn't say anything. I knew if I opened my mouth the tears would come. I cried all the way home.

First, I thought about my classmates. How shitty that I hadn't performed when they all did? We were a class. A sisterhood. I'd let them down. Second, I fretted about the nature of trapeze. The kind of trapeze I do is called aerial dance. But I couldn't dance. And if I couldn't dance could I really continue to do trapeze?

But the real problem lay deep inside. A fundamental problem with how I see myself.  I'd called it failure but a wise woman pointed out that I'm not afraid to fail as I try new all things often. No. It's the fear of not being good at things. Not being perfect. Not being the best. Although there was a failure in this moment. I failed in my attempts to start see myself differently. That last one hurt the most. As I said, I've never really had a hard time seeing myself as strong. I'm pretty realistic about it, and I know I've been at lows in terms of strength. But when I hit the high points I knew it. And during the lows? I always knew the highs could be achieved.

Being graceful though? Nope I never have ever thought of myself as graceful. I love ballet. Have loved it since I was a kid and saw Baryshnikov dance in the Nutcracker. I longed to be able to look that beautiful. To move across the floor like a dream. Like I could fly. Funny dream for a child who tripped over her own feet. A child who once fell down a flight of stairs putting her knee through a glass plate window. I fell out of trees. Off my bike. Walking on stone walls. I had zero grace. Gravity ate me up. Still I watched dancers, all kinds of them, with a ravenous desire. The first time I saw the repertoire group at trapeze, that same stirring rose up once again. I wanted to glide through the air, take grace out for a turn while gravity tries to pull me down.

And that night I failed. All those feelings from when I was little rose up again. The pain of knowing I'd never be beautiful. Graceful. I could see myself strong but I could not see myself dancing. Ever. Funny thing is that I walk around all the time imagining myself doing various tricks to songs I'm listening too. I can see myself hitting ques transforming songs into expression. However on the bar, the self-doubt rests like a mantle. A heavy mantle. I knew that this was my next hurdle.

I am going to have to push past this self doubt. It's my next step. I need to get on that bar and dance. I'm going to push past self doubt and all those feelings of ridiculousness. I'm going to tell gravity to go fuck herself for a bit and I'm going to try on grace. I doubt if I'm going to be running off with the circus anytime soon but I am going to push through this wall. I've got a song ready (Mumford and Sons Lover of the Light), and I have some plans. Let's see if Grace has some mercy on my body if not my soul.