Sometimes even the most impossible-seeming dreams can come true.
It’s hard to pinpoint the exact time frame of many events in the last two decades of my life, partly because so much time was sucked into being sick and in hospital for months on end, where the days all merge into one another and the world outside no longer seems real. When you come out, you are shellshocked and have no idea what’s happened since you last were there. Whole buildings have appeared where there was a hole in the ground before. New prime ministers have been elected. Disasters have happened. Celebrities have died. People where you live have changed.
The other problem was my cognition. A starving mind doesn’t grasp time well. Nor memories. There are a lot of holes there. The holes scare me.
But roughly, it’s been fifteen years since I last danced. Fifteen years!! A decade and a half. Almost half my lifetime.
Ballet was the last ‘dream’ that Anorexia robbed me of before pushing me completely off the cliff.
As I’d lost hopes and dreams one by one, I’d lost my grip on life and reality more and more. One of the main reasons I have survived my life is because I had goals. I had dreams. I was going to have a good future, and I was doing everything I could to make sure that future happened for me. My dream was to be a dancer – and I worked my butt off to make it happen. My passion for dancing was so deep that I stayed at that school, where I was bullied mercilessly, for two years rather than leave and go back to a school where I felt wanted, liked, accepted. Because it was worth that hell, to be a dancer.
I’d lost everything by the time ballet was taken from me. My beloved cat Hotchy who had been my one and only remaining friend in the world. The hope of having a loving family. The only home I’d ever known. Innocence. My body. My safety. So much more. All gone but ballet. And then, I was told I was too sick to dance. I was kicked out of the performance strand of my course, having to make up the last of my BA in units I could take from anywhere else university wide (having only electives left to complete, and the staff deciding it was extreme circumstances). I tried. I studied Subjects in Literature, Information Technology, Business, Creative Arts. But my mojo was gone.
I was in free fall. There was nothing left to hold on for.
Over the years that followed, the hope that I would ever dance again fell ever further from reach. My limbs atrophied, I lost pretty much all my muscle mass. I developed osteopenia, then osteoporosis, then stress fractures in both femurs and both tibias in my legs. I felt the agony of peripheral neuropathy. I was in so much constant pain, that my body was to me, crippled, and would never function well again.
I was wrong.
It’s taken over a year of hard painful work with the help of physiotherapy services, but today I graduated from physio. Tomorrow, I am going to my first ballet class – more accurately it’s a ‘ballet barre and pilates’ class because I’m still very rusty, I still can’t do anything! But it’s a start and I’m so excited.
I’m so so so terrified too!
Tomorrow, I will be facing up to my past. All these years, the bullying that I went through at the ballet school and what was happening at home at that time, has overpowered every waking moment of my life. I’m not just going back to dancing again, I’m going back to a dancing school run by one of the ballerinas who was a principal in the company when I was in the school. I’m pretty certain there will be more people there that I know from back then. So it’s going to be pretty confronting!
I think that sometimes, opportunities arise to make peace with our pasts – and this is one for me. I’m hoping that I can realise that I am okay, and that I always was okay – that the way I was treated back then wasn’t because I was a horrible monster, but because adolescent girls can be nasty little bitches, and sometimes bad things do happen to good people. They will no longer be the bitches in my memory, they will have grown up now. I’m hoping my mind can accept that all that happened then is over – gone – never again. Accept it and let go.
My physio today told me that ballerina who runs the school is coming in tomorrow morning just to meet me and make sure everything is okay, and that she was extremely lovely and welcoming on the phone. She’s also going to throw in a few free classes, and giving me a pair of ballet shoes to wear because mine are about 15 years old! How lovely are people? I continue to be surprised by the generosity and goodness of people towards me. So thankful, so blessed.
It’s really lucky that she is bringing me some shoes too. My ballet flats actually are still alive after all these years! But they are quite stiff, and mouldy.
But still wearable.
As you can see, I have muscle on my calves again. (I have a lot of trouble looking at this photo and not seeing that my legs, to me, are HUGE now But they are legs that can walk and DANCE.) I also have scars, on my arms too. I’ll be wearing opaque tights and trackpants over those, as well as a long sleeved top (thankfully it’s COLD) so I don’t have to worry about those. But I’m dreading the reaction if anyone there sees my scars.
I’m very tight and not at all limber any more. I’m also very weak and don’t have much stamina. But they are all things that with work I will change. I’m looking forward to the challenge.
I can’t wait til tomorrow! I’m not going to be held down by my eating disorder any more. It’s time to spread my wings and fly. It really does feel like I’m being given my wings back
Pinch me someone, am I dreaming?
What have you LOST to your Eating Disorder (or other illness/addiction)?
Have you ever had dreams you thought impossible, become reality?