Saturday, August 11, 2007

Tagged again...

Carla tagged everyone, so I decided to answer - the questions were intriguing. Enjoy!

1. You’ve always wished for it, and your wish has come true: There’s now a twenty-fifth hour in the day, but you have to spend it the same way every day on something you don’t have enough time for now, and it can’t be for sleep. How will you spend this extra hour every day?

The first half hour would be stretching/Yoga; the second half hour would be reading/writing.

2. As if that weren’t enough, an extra day has been added to the calendar, and you can insert it anywhere you want, except the day immediately before or after a holiday, and you have to spend it the same way every year. How will you spend this extra day each year, and when on the calendar will it appear?

Hmmm... I'd put it in August - another nice summer day. Ahhh...

(When I lived in upstate NY, I might have picked the extra day for January so I wouldn't have to go out in the bite-your-ass cold for one extra day. lol)

3. Someone is giving you an extra twenty dollars per week (or its equivalent, if your country uses a different monetary unit) to spend any way you want, but you have to spend it the same way every week, and it has to be on yourself (no charity or gift-giving, and no investing or saving!). How will you spend this extra twenty dollars per week?

Take another dance class with it. 8-)

4. Wow! When you woke up this morning, you noticed that someone snuck in and added a new room to your living space! The room is for your exclusive use, and it can serve only one FUN function (and it can’t be used as a bedroom or storage). What fun activity will be reserved for this new room?

No question. A room that had mirrors on one wall with deep purple paint on the others, rubber flooring, a disco ball with appropriate spotlights, a sound system with unlimited iTunes access, and a pole. 8-)

5. A magic backpack appears at your doorstep. It will hold any one thing you can normally carry by yourself, it will render that item weightless, and it will collapse to the size of a small pack of gum. What will you carry in it?

This is a tough one... I'd love to pack up my best friend and carry her with me, but that really wouldn't be fair to her. SO...

Uhm, a cooler. So I can easily carry cold drinks or yogurt with me.

Friday, August 10, 2007

My workout spins circles around yours...

Okay. I think I've teased about this in other posts. So, time to 'fess up.

I'm a pole dancer.


You read that right.

Me, Jeanne the librarian. Swings on a pole once a week at her dance class. Have since January.

And I absolutely love it.

The class is all adult women - 12 students, 1 teacher. The studio is usually dim, disco ball spinning, bouncing light off the mirrors and the 13 silvery poles. Deep purple velvet curtains hang from the windows. Black rubber floors cushion our feet (whether heeled or (as I have lately) bare.)

Right now, I've mastered the invert - going upside down on the pole. We've been working on letting go with our hands while we are upside down... Something I'm not very comfortable with, to say the least!! Which actually makes the women in my class laugh - because I'm usually the one who is game for taking off outer layers of clothes.

So, you are probably wondering (if you've gotten your jaws off the ground,) why, in all that's holy, would someone recovering from an eating disorder WANT to learn to pole dance, let alone strip????

In early January, before I started taking classes, I was completely insecure about my body. I hated my sexu@lity, my sexu@lness and everything that made my body feminine. And I wanted to change this legacy that my brother and cousin left me. I wanted to take back my body and love it.

My instructor, Stephanie, is amazing. From the moment I stepped into my first class, she made me and each and every woman in the room feel beautiful. Even in my long sleeves and yoga pants that covered every inch of my skin, I felt alluring.

It's funny, looking back now. I had forgotten how uncomfortable I was with dancing in front of others. The only way I could really get into the moves was to close my eyes. (Something I still do from time to time, but I don't need to anymore.)

As I've progressed through each level (the studio where I go has six levels of classes before one becomes a Pole Master,) I've become bolder. And I've let it show. For class, I wear a tight pair of short shorts and a T-shirt that molds to my curves. Both match my 6-inch platform, red-white-and-blue heels. (Which I haven't worn in weeks because of my ankle. 8-( )

But where I've noticed it the most is on the inside. When I look in the mirror and I see the chubby little girl from long ago, I do a hip circle and suddenly, I'm a hot momma who can swing on a pole! Yeah, baby!

I walk taller. I feel the strength inside of me.

I like my body. And sometimes, I even love it, if only for a few moments.

The point is that I am slowly claiming my body for myself - relishing the strength of my muscles, cherishing the miraculous wonder that is me.

Sheila Kelley says it best in her book The S Factor, "I love to pole-dance and strip... I don't do it for money, and I don't do it for strangers. I stripdance for myself... I do it because it makes me look and feel extraordinary. Because it lets me soar high above the world and its troubles. Because when I dance, layers of self-doubt and self-consciousness fall away to reveal my true, powerful self." (page ix)

And while I may still cover up my true self in my day-to-day life, I know that she exists now. And with every gracefully landed spin on the pole, I come closer to letting her see the light of each and every day.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Grab the shovel

"Much of the rape that goes on in the privacy of dorm rooms is initially mutual and playful and leads into something confusing and painful - a direct result of our lack of practice communicating about and understanding the complexities of sex. *
"*This is not to say, of course, that violent, straightforward rapes do not go on, or that the victim is at fault. It is simply to point out that rape can be as confusing for the rapist as it is for the victim, and further, that the confusion often stems from a lack of education, preparation and sobriety." Page 112 from Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters by Courtney E. Martin.

I'm in the middle of reading Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters. Tonight, while soaking in the tub, I read the passage above and stopped.

Take out dorm room, put in parents' den...
Take out initially mutual and playful...

Could the rest be true about what my brother did to me? He probably was as confused as I was - it's not as if his education about these things was any more detailed than mine was, after all.

But then, how does it help me to think about him?

It doesn't.

But how can I not?

When John (my therapist) and I first discussed the abuse, I mentioned this fact that my brother's education was sketchy at best.
John replied that teenage boys steal magazines, they don't molest their little sisters.

So why am I insisting on letting him off the hook for molesting me?

Because I want to resolve this quickly in my mind. And the easiest thing to do would be to accept some of the blame so I can forgive Tom.

But I'm innocent. I didn't do anything wrong. None of the blame is mine.

It was suggested to me that perhaps I should try hypnosis or guided imagery or something...

I think about ae and the process that she has found with her therapist. From ae's descriptions (and my understanding, which can be completely off, ae - forgive me if I get this wrong and please correct me,) her therapist guides her as she goes back to the events of her abuse in order to reconnect with the feelings.

With each post that she publishes, I envy her bravery.

I'm afraid to go back. I'm afraid to remember. I'm ashamed of what happened. I don't want to remember.

But I can't live in ignorant bliss anymore. I'm not ignorant to being molested. I do remember - bits and pieces. And the bits and pieces haunt me sometimes. Coming out at odd moments and in strange ways - like the interrupted meditation last week, the crying wave in the fitness center, the illusive dreams that rob me of energy, the cyclical depression,...

John once told me that your body will protect you from anything it doesn't think it can handle. He explained that the memories popped up last year because I was strong enough - I had taken charge of my life.

At that point, I was strong enough to handle the knowledge that it was real. I was molested; it wasn't a dream. And I was strong enough to tell my husband. And to confront my brother and ask for an apology. I was strong enough to deal with the grief and the sadness that ensued.

But not the anger. Although I acknowledged that it was there, for the first time. I don't think acknowledging that there is anger inside me, holding the anger at arm's length, is enough. As faith realized, I have never owned this anger. I haven't yet experienced it fully.

So, maybe this wave of depression is my body's signal that I'm strong enough to handle more?

Maybe I am ready to dig deeper...

Now I just have to figure out how.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Too tired for cleverness

So my dreams are still intensely strange. The ones I remember have to do with work and/or juggling appointments while dragging my exhausted butt around.

Certainly not ingredients for a restful night.

So, what else is going on - besides the usual work/appointment juggling and (blissfully) minor car woes that happen every day to everyone?

I've been trying not to think about my conflicted feelings towards my brother. And yet the more I avoid it, the more my brain needs to process the everyday events in my life, leading to dreams and unrestful night sleeps.

I left a message for John (my therapist) to schedule an appointment, but I haven't heard from him yet (not necessarily unusual, since he moonlights with his private practice.)

So, I decided that I best write down what it is that I want to talk to him about. (For me, writing down what it is I want to say, or in some cases, running through an entire dress rehearsal in my mind, before my appointment helps me to focus my session on the things that I need to resolve.) Usually, I write this in my private journal... but, I felt a little better after talking to my husband about it on Friday night, so maybe I'll feel a little better sharing it with you? Burdens shared are lessened and all that?

The conflict comes from this:
My brother did some horrible things to me when I was young. Decades later, I'm angry at him for all the pain he caused me, all the problems (eating disorder, sexu@l disorder, trust issues, etc) that came from what he did. I feel righteous anger. I was innocent, after all, by my brother's own admission. I didn't do anything wrong.

And yet, ever since college, he has been so damned nice. To me. And now, he has been so damned accommodating - with my confrontation, with my ground rules for visits,... It infuriates me that he is so damned nice; that I feel guilty for feeling angry at him.

I feel like he is stealing my anger away from me.

When I talked to Todd about this, he asked me, "Why do you want to hold onto your anger?"

Good question. I answered that I need to hang onto my anger right now; to help me remember that it wasn't my fault, that I wasn't to blame. Because right now, it is so easy for me to fall back to the "I didn't say no; I didn't stop it so it must be my fault" lines. Lines that I know, intellectually, are crap, but that my heart would rather believe than to believe that someone I trusted would betray me that way. Especially when that same person who betrayed my trust decades ago is now acting (being?) so trustworthy - agreeing and following my ground rules; understanding...

I think that this shouldn't be so confusing - I mean, Brother + bad thing = brother is bad. But is it really so black and white?

In the rest of my life, I've been working on seeing the many shades of gray. Food is neither good nor bad; life isn't pass or fail... So, doesn't it make sense that this issue isn't black and white?

But then I think back to when John and I first really talked about the abuse. He asked me, "When I think about what happened to me, do I feel that it was good, bad or gray?"
I answered, "Gray."
He replied, "No. There is no gray. It was all bad. None of it was good."

So, I think I need to ask John, "If that is true, then why do I feel gray about my brother?"

And most importantly, how do I resolve this inside of me?

I hope John is on his A-game, whenever my appointment is...

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Tagged again

I've been tagged by Carla...

1. Who’s your favorite of the Looney Tunes characters?
Wyle Coyote, super genius.

No matter what that poor guy does, that damn Road Runner is also screwing with him - always just out of reach...
Elusive, just like full recovery...
But Wyle doesn't give up - he always has new tricks to try, new traps to use, new Acme products to utilize. He doesn't give up.

2. What have you done too much of lately?
Hmmmm.... I haven't done too much of anything lately - I'm constantly bouncing from one thing to another, never giving enough time to any one thing because there is a list of things that need attention.

3. When did you last play cards?
July 15 - at my brother's house, with my nieces and grandma. We played Uno, Go Fish and some other game. Loved every minute of it!

4. Where were your keys the last time you couldn’t find them?
In my husband's pockets... lol

5. Why didn’t you do today everything you were supposed to?
Why are you accusing me of being lazy????
Seriously, I finished everything that I could. I am only one person and I have to take care of me, first and foremost - and that includes not stressing over the perpetually growing and never possible to be completed "To Do" list.