Aerial Dance saved my life, and I couldn’t be more thankful.
Though I touched on it briefly in Fighting Fear, let me tell you a bit more about what being at Aerial Dance has done.
I moved to Green Bay in late 2011 to live with a man I had been dating only a few months. It was OK at first. There was happiness and romance, and all the trappings that usually come with the honeymoon phase of a relationship. It didn’t last too long after we moved into our new place. He started establishing rules, and threatened to leave me if I broke them. I couldn’t go certain places without his permission, and he needed to know where I was at all times. We would fight over his expectations of me. I was supposed to clean, cook, and be well-behaved. Friends, I was 19. I was energetic and social, and generally opinionated. I still am… and I don’t respond well to commands.
Then he made an executive decision to stop giving me almost any physical attention. He moved to the other bedroom, and insisted that I needed to learn to love without doing such activities. The most physical attention I got was a brief hug and kiss good-bye as he went off to work. Soon, he began critiquing my physical appearance. I was too fat, and not pretty enough. I needed to get in better shape and wear more makeup. I was stupid, not good enough, and a handful of other words that I won’t mention here.
I began thinking about suicide. I thought of different ways to do it, how I would write my note, when, where. I knew it wasn’t going to solve anything, but it was something I spent time thinking about. I realized I needed to see a professional. After a visit or two with her and some discussions with my mother, I finally moved out.
Even though I was away from him, I was still a wreck. The suicide thoughts didn’t stop, just lessened slightly. Everything he told me was still playing in my mind. I tried to start working out to feel better about my body. I was looking for more options when I found Aerial Dance.
The first term or two were tough. I absolutely HATED the wall of mirrors in the front of the room. I wasn’t catching on very fast, and I was quite frustrated. As time went on, I began to realize what I was capable of, and that my ex could take his opinions about my body and put’m where the sun doesn’t shine. My body was capable and beautiful, and I was capable and beautiful. My confidence was growing.
I soon entered another relationship. It was all glitter and rainbows until he revealed, by actions, a darker side: he was an alcoholic. Every time he got wrecked, he picked a target. This was usually me, since I must seem like the most forgiving one. I was anything from ugly and fat and not good enough, to the reason for every bad thing that had happened in his life. He’d wake up the next morning and apologize. Any time I acted in fear when he was drinking, he’d blame his mean actions on me, saying I asked for it. It was his way of expressing himself, and I just needed to take it.
Aerial Dance had helped me gain back confidence in my body, but it was still that scared little 19 year old inside. I lived off of attention, and defined my worth by my relationship. No more.
I ended that relationship just as I started writing for Student’s Journey. I just came back from a break in my pole “career,” and was getting reacquainted with the moves and skills. As my classes got started and as I ventured to new aerial arts, I began to realize how much I was still capable of. Somehow, this translated into what I needed to hear: I am worth something, and far more than what I was being valued for by him.
The confidence and happiness I have gleaned from my classes and time at Aerial Dance steered me away from suicide and reminded me that I was a strong, confident, capable woman–and that I should treat myself that way! I seriously believe that I would not be as stable, healthy, or confident as I am today if I had not found Aerial Dance when I did. It brings me to tears when I think about it too long!
So thank you Paula, thank you to every instructor, thank you to every student I’ve every had the chance to take classes with, and thank you to everyone else who’s made Aerial Dance an amazing place and an amazing sanctuary. Thank you so much!