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Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Regrets

I think one of the things that I dislike about the New Year is that it reminds me of everything over the past year that I regret. Plus of course it is going to be a new decade, so I have a whole decade of regrets to really focus on. And given that I am currently 23, that means I have everything in my life since the age of 13 to regret, which is an awful lot of things. Some things happened, or didn't happen, before that age that I regret, but the majority has obviously been in the last 10 years.

Firstly I would like to delete the last 5 or 6 years of my life. They have been shit. And getting progressively worse if I am honest. The last 4 years in particular have been completely and utterly wasted. I have literally achieved nothing. If I am going to kill myself imminently then that is fine, if not then it bothers me a lot, and makes me *want* to kill myself imminently, so it is a bit of a catch 22 really. I have spent an awful lot of time lying in bed doing nothing, time talking to mental health professionals, time loathing myself, purging etc etc. Nothing that I imagined myself doing by the time I was this age has happened.

One thing that really upsets me is not caring about the things that I used to be passionate about. Every now and then I get a little flash of inspiration, and I remember why I care about the things I do, or did. Performing has been what I have wanted to do for as long as I can remember. I still go to dance classes etc, but the vast majority of the time I don't actually want to go, or care about what I am doing when I am there - I just do it, almost mechanically. It is part of my life, a habit almost, and so I do it. Like appointments. I don't miss appointments. They are a committment and therefore I go. And most of the time the same applies to dance classes. I just go whether I like it or not. Sometimes I don't, when things are really at rock bottom and I can't move from my bed, but mostly I do. But often I forget why. I lose sight of the reason behind it. I don't care about what I am doing there, my head just tells me that I will be dead soon, so what is the point of trying to improve my pirouettes, or get my pointe work stronger. Who gives a shit about pointe work?! I can think of numerous times when I have stood at the barre warming up, mechanically doing my plies and tendus, whilst planning to kill myself, or having seen the crisis team earlier that day, or having self harmed hours before.

I don't really know what I am talking about here. I am waffling. There is a point to this though. I was talking about regrets, and how it ties into my thoughts regarding the future. And the big thing that I was sure I would have achieved by now is going to drama school, studying musical theatre, maybe even working. Performing is all I have ever wanted to do, and yet at times it feels impossible. And not just at the times when I am not intending to be here anymore. But wanting something so much can hurt. I think of all the people out there more talented than me, who can dance better, sing better, act better, look better, and I wonder why I bother trying. Why I ever thought that I could do it. And that feeds straight back into the suicidal thoughts. I am never going to be able to do the only thing I have ever wanted to do, so why do I bother?

A big regret of mine is not taking dance more seriously when I was younger. I went to a very bad teacher, and danced for about 45 mins a week until I was about 15, and that was it. I had always wanted to perform, but we live in the middle of the sticks, and she taught locally, so that was that. When I was 15 or 16 I started having private ballet lessons in an attempt to catch up a bit, which I had for a year or 2 before going to a decent dance school. But missing out on so many years of training is something that I often really regret. If I had decent training when I was young I could have had real potential. Physically I am fairly well cut out for dancing. I have excellent feet (if I do say so myself!), hyperextended joints (not a good thing in the real world, but very much liked in ballet!), suitable proportions (that means a long neck mostly!), and when I am in control of my eating, the right type of figure. Had I had reasonable training when I was young, I would have stood a decent chance of getting into a full time ballet school at 11, as the things I have listed above are considered to be more important than technique, as they can't be changed - technique can be worked on. And then I think about how different my life could have been. Would I have still ended up trying to kill myself? Being admitted to psychiatric hospitals? Lying around in bed doing nothing? I admit that I would almost certainly have still had an eating disorder, but what about the rest? Sometimes I wish I could go back to a really young age, say 7 or 8, and do everything over again. And other times I don't care, and I just want to kill myself now.

Sometimes I think about stopping dancing. Stopping performing. Giving it all up. Then I see something that truly inspires me, and I remember why I want to do it all, and why I am willing to put myself through so many rejections, and spend hours a week looking at myself prancing around in front of a mirror. Tonight I watched a DVD I got for Christmas called 'Every Little Step'. It is a documentary about the casting process for the recent Broadway revival of the musical A Chorus Line. It made me remember why I wanted to perform. Need is probably a more appropriate word than want. It is something inside me, that has been there for as long as I can remember, and has refused to disappear completely regardless of what I have thrown at it. Sometimes I am desperate to succeed, but also desperately afraid of failing. What do I do if I can't perform? And I am so aware that the weeks and months and years are ticking by, and I am coming no closer to it. I am 23. I haven't applied for college this year. That means that even if I applied and was accepted next year, I would be 25 when I started. That means I would be 28 when I graduated. And whilst for most careers that is fine, that is not young in dance terms. And so then I think oh fuck it, I may as well kill myself.

I am by no means saying that I am suicidal because I am not a successful performer. There is obviously far, far more to it than that - performing is merely a small issue that becomes part of a bigger whole. Performing is just what I decided to write about today. But when I am feeling on edge, these small things can tip me over the edge. If I am feeling suicidal, regretting having not achieved more in my life can be enough to make me completely lose the plot. And unfortunately, in my life achievements are caught up with performing. One of the toughest businesses there is to succeed in. And performing is closely linked to my perfectionist tendancies. And those perfectionist tendancies amplify everything I have done wrong, or not achieved. And lead back to the suicidal thoughts. Which lead to the staying in bed and achieving nothing. And round we go. Like a fucking hamster in a wheel.

If anyone has actually managed to read this all the way through then they deserve a medal!

2 comments:

  1. I read it all the way through to the end! I can relate to so much of what you say that it's quite scary. Not about dancing, sadly I was never cut out for performing, but I have always had something inside me that drives me to want to help people (and write as well). My social worker once said to me that I could very well be someone who educates young people on self harm as I know so much about it. Sometimes I feel that glimmer of hope and wonder if she could be right. But then I look back at my 28 years on this earth and my brain just creates a timeline of bad events - that's always the way isn't it? So much easier to remember the bad times than the good. All I see is a childhood filled with sexual abuse, an adolescence filled with self harm, my early 20s filled with hospital admissions and suicide attempts, a period of stability which ended when my baby was stillborn, relationships falling apart and here I am back at the start, a life full of extremities and pain. I wonder why should it ever change? I believe sometimes that this is the way my life is destined to be. I understand you, I understand your fears for the new year and how tempting it is to just give up. And yet something - that teensy fucking bit of doubt - keeps us going. I have no idea why.. Sorry for such a long comment, should have made this a blog post! Take care x

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  2. "Sometimes I wish I could go back to a really young age, say 7 or 8, and do everything over again."
    Yep, yep, yep, totally relate to that. There are so many things I would do differently or try harder at. Hindsite is a wonderful (if slightly infuriating) thing.
    x

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