Sunday, August 2, 2015

Sometime it's okay to stop (Life is about snapshots not oil paintings)

When I stopped blogging last year, I'll admit that there was a part of me that thought it was somehow going to cure me, that I would wake up the next morning illness-free, full of energy and ready to take on the world.

Yeah... nah.

My health continued to be as bung as it always had been. I also still struggled with all the feelings about my illnesses that had led me to decide to stop blogging in the first place, but I did at least start to make some headway with understanding what those feelings were really about and identifying them, even if I couldn't always change them. One of the big things that did change for me was my willingness to try new things, and make plans for the future. Once I started taking more notice of my own thoughts, I realised how much I was stopping myself from doing because of the way I felt about my illnesses rather than because of the illnesses themselves.

When I went through the pain clinic programme a few years back, one of my exit goals was to go back to dance classes. Now admittedly, my health has done all sorts of strange things in the time since pain clinic that would have made dancing difficult, but I was also hampered by the idea that I would cause disruption or embarrass myself in classes by being being sick/fainting/my legs stopping working suddenly (or any of the other things that can happen on a daily basis) or just generally not being able to keep up in the same way I could in dance classes I attended pre-illness.

Realistically, if my body did decide to have a tantrum and stop working properly, yes, it would cause some disruption to the class, but the impact of that on other people was probably not going to be as bad as I imagined. Even if it went utterly and completely wrong, it would still only be one hour of my, the other students', and the dance teacher's lives, so in the end, I decided to just get over myself and try a class. I gave the teacher a heads up in an email and at the start of the class that there was the possibility of me falling/fainting/other bung things, and she was fine with me taking it at my own pace or sitting out if I needed to.

It turned out the biggest issue for me was that after ten years without attending classes, I was completely out of practise at learning choreography and spent most of the first class facing the wrong direction. That came back pretty quickly though, and I began to really enjoy going to classes. It became a fun, and stress-relieving part of my week.

However, it hasn't been completely without problems. Fatigue, muscle spasms and pain are not exactly the most compatible things with dance, and some weeks I've been completely wiped out by classes. At the end of last term, I was really struggling to keep going. Work and other commitments were using up most of my spoons, and finding enough to dance on top of that was hard. This term my work schedule is even more demanding, and I've known the sensible thing to do would be to take a break. But the thought of stopping classes really pained me.

This was something I fought for - emotionally and physically - and something I had won back against illness. I wanted to cling to that, and not let go. I felt I had to keep going - not just at dance classes, but with everything - because if I gave in, it might mean losing those things again forever. So I pushed myself to keep up with everything... and of course my health started to bear the effects of that. Continuing to do something because I am afraid of losing it is probably not all that much better than me being afraid to even try it in the first place.

A friend sent me this song the other day:

This situation wasn't the reason she sent me it to me (we'd been talking about taking photos) but it felt like it fit pretty well anyway. I went back to classes. I danced my ass off. I fricken loved it. Here is the polaroid picture to prove it...

(I'm on the far right in the pink singlet.)

...and right now, it's okay for me to stop. I may go back to classes again - I stopped for ten years and went back - or I might not. But either way, it's still fricken awesome that I got to do this again after so many years. Letting go of this does not make it any less cool that it happened, and letting go right now does not mean "never again." Sometimes, it's okay to just say "I'm pressing pause."

Thanks for reading,
Little Miss Autoimmune

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