For a reflection about dancing, I knew this photo had to be the one I included. My curly-haired self in the early Nineties having fun in the sun. It reminds me how carefree dancing was for me in my earliest years, and it makes me glad that I've continued to find joy in dancing as an adult. I love that dance helps me feel sunnier. Dance has also helped me heal.
Growing up, I had a variety of good memories that involved dancing - weddings, youth retreats, and silly afternoons spent with my cousins. I also did ballet for a few years in elementary school. While I was sometimes self-conscious when dancing around others, dance and music were usually fun for me. In recent years, I've added dance videos to my exercise routine. I immediately loved cardio dance, but it also made me aware of memories I needed to heal at a deeper level.
Nineteen years ago, on January 8, 2005, I attended my first prom. What could have been an enjoyable evening with my friends was instead the start to a year of abuse; that prom was the first time the guy I was dating sexually assaulted me. The relationship ended in early 2006, but healing is an ongoing journey. The guy's abuse had eroded my desire to connect with my body. While I had improved my relationship with my body prior to 2021, dance helped me heal further.
In 2021, I chose to do cardio dance as part of my exercise. It was difficult because memories related to the guy's abuse gradually began to resurface during my workouts. Then, three months in, I had a particularly unpleasant bad memory day. What followed was an autumn of working through the painful memories and healing at a deeper level. My reflection "I have always been worthy." was one result of that season of healing.
When I think back on that year of the guy's abuse, I sometimes find myself holding my breath. It's because that year was like one long inhale. Dancing has allowed me to gradually bring breath back into that suffocating space. Dancing helped my pain that lived beyond words translate itself for me to process. Dance also helped me connect with my memories and my body in a new and long-awaited way.