I promised to follow the last post with a third guest post from Cristina, whose first two posts can be read by clicking the links below:
I hope this installment will move you as much as the first two did. (Her posts receive more comments than most of mine.)
I’ve been called ‘passionate.’ This might be code for something else, but I’ll go with it. I am fiercely blue-flamed passionate. And yet, I somehow feel a need to subdue this passion in order to fit in the world around me. It makes me feel restless. Stifled.
My pregnancy was hard on my body. Months of on-and-off bed rest, two months of constant labor, then finally a C-section that came early. I almost died in the procedure and my baby girl spent time in NICU. Recovery was slow for both of us, and when the dust settled we discovered my right hip was blown. Too much weight and strain on too little of a body frame.
I hobbled around like an old lady for months. I felt crimped both physically and emotionally. My passion dwindled in all areas except for my family. My children didn’t mind if I stuttered around or took longer to stand up. My son didn’t notice if my hip gave out. My baby wouldn’t mind if I couldn’t run anymore.
But I noticed. And I minded. I didn’t feel whole anymore. Physical therapy only helped my hip a little bit, but I still had a great deal of pain. I still felt as if I couldn’t be the same person I was before I had the baby. My body was different, obviously; how could it not be? I had baby weight, I was nursing, I had an old lady hip… but I also felt different. For so many months I had to avoid being emotionally engaged in order to protect the baby and myself, and now it was as if I couldn’t remember how to embrace myself again.
I didn’t feel like physical therapy was helping me. And so I continued to do my exercises at home but stopped going in to the therapist. Writing was at a standstill, too. I stopped playing around with photography. I threw myself in as a mom, and enjoyed every second of it. I went to bed at night feeling a phantom itch but with no amputations. My passion wasn’t being used up and my body could feel it.
Without thought into it, I enrolled in belly dancing classes. I felt tremendously insecure in the first set of classes. My pregnancy had enabled my depression and agoraphobia, so throwing myself into a dance class with strangers was difficult. And yet, I also felt at ease there. My body felt at home in the movements. With each isolation and curve of my hip, I began to feel better. My hip loosened up. The tightness in my chest began to unwind.
With each set of classes, I began to let go of things from the past. Belly dancing is a dance of radiating light. The dance position is one to project light and positivity even from our fingertips. I could feel it. My fears from the past, the negativity and sorrows, began to drop from me. My hip began to feel stronger. My passionate self began to assert itself again. Without realizing it, I started to feel whole once more.
I am now in an intermediate class. My instructor asked me why I had chosen to continue with belly dancing and I told her about my hip and physical therapy not doing much for me. I explained how my hip feels stronger after dance. She looked into me (not at me) and said, “I understand, dancing fixed all my broken pieces, too.” I thought about that as I drove home that night, turning her words over and over in my mind. All my broken pieces – there are many – have dance on my hips along with my coins. I hadn’t noticed that there seemed to be more coins than broken pieces as each week passed. I hear her words with every practice now.
It wasn’t even a week later that I received this fortune:
"Stay close to your inner self. You will benefit in many ways."
How wise. When I swayed from my true passionate self, I had been in my most pain, physically and emotionally. I felt the most lost. When I found my passionate self again, through dancing, I was able to let go of many things that were hurting me. My broken pieces became whole again.