I am having a really shitty evening. Well, it has been a bit of a crappy day really, but the evening has been particularly difficult. I had decided to go to ballet because I thought at least it would give me a bit of a distraction for a while. But then it all went a bit wrong because my dad had to take the car today, as his was in for MOT, and he didn't think I was going to go to ballet because of my back, so he was going to be a bit late getting home (although I could just about have still got there) and my mum had a lot to do and so it would be better if I didn't go. Even though I knew dancing with a bad back wouldn't be the brightest thing to do, not going upset me for some reason. I am not sure why. Most of the time I don't even want to go - I go because I feel like I should. I am good at obligations and committments. If I have said I will do something then I will. But not going tonight bothered me, and I am trying to work out why. I think it is partly the calorie/weight thing. Not dancing when I was 'supposed' to, ie on a day when I regularly dance, made me feel like I shouldn't eat because I wouldn't be burning off the calories to earn the food. And then of course I did eat and felt very guilty. Also, despite the fact I don't want to go most of the time, I think maybe ballet sometimes calms me down a bit. Other times it frustrates me enormously because I can't do things the way I want to be able to do them, and I get angry with myself, plus of course there is the neverending nightmare of being in a leotard and tights in front of a mirror, but despite all of that I think maybe it calms me down a bit.
There is just something about being in class at the barre, and the music starting for plies, and just kind of moving onto auto pilot and tension just kind of leaving your body. Not having to think about anything more complex than whether you are turned out to your full extent, and whether you are pulled up as much as you can, and whether you are working through your feet as much as possible, and whether you can get your leg that little bit higher when you feel like you have reached your maximum and whether your arm is in exactly the right position or if it needs to be slightly more rounded or more supported or your fingers more extended, and whether your head is turned exactly to where it should be and no further. All little, tiny things that sound so unimportant and insignificant, but when you are trying to think about them all at the same time, plus many, many other things besides, actually take an awful lot of concentration. And all with a lovely serene look on your face. Sure, you can just ignore it all and bullshit your way through class the best as you can whilst thinking about how shit you feel, but even if you know the exercises inside out and think nobody will notice, they will. For sure. Because ballet is about perfection, and perfection takes a lot of effort, even when doing the simplest of exercises. The hardest thing about it for me is realising that I will never achieve that perfection - that no matter how many hours a week I danced, and no matter how hard I worked, I would never have flat turnout, or anything approaching it, and that I will never have 180 degree extensions, and so many other things that make amazing dancers. It is hard for a perfectionist to accept they will never achieve perfection, in a discipline that demands it. It is particularly hard knowing that it is my body stopping me from achieving these things. My body that I hate.
Sometimes I don't know why I dance. The reason I always give is that I need to be able to dance well for musical theatre. Which is true. But on days like today, when I was supposed to dance but couldn't, I wonder if maybe it is more than that. I can't say I enjoy it, because that wouldn't be true, but then I don't enjoy anything. But of everything I can think of, it is probably the thing that is most likely to be able to distract me from how I am feeling. Not always in a good way. Sometimes I will get so frustrated with myself for not being able to do something that I want to scream and shout and cry and throw a tantrum. But at least if I am upset over my inability to do a good pirouette, I am not thinking about suicide. And when I am going through a patch with constant suicidal thoughts, then even thinking other negative things about myself comes as a relief. So maybe sometimes I dance to try and give myself a bit of a break. It doesn't always work, and it never works completely, but even partial relief makes a big difference. Plus of course it is something timetabled into my week, that I expect to do, and I don't like disruption to plans.
I didn't understand why I spent an hour and a half lying in the dark feeling like absolute shit earlier when I couldn't go to ballet. Maybe now I do, or to at least some extent. And maybe that explains why even when I am feeling really, really terrible, and am desperately suicidal and in the middle of crisis, I still try and drag myself out of bed and to my ballet classes. And most of the time I manage it. However much I don't feel like going, however exhausted I am, however little sleep I have had, however much I just want to stay in bed - I still try and go. And I have never known why, apart from my normal not liking to duck out of committments thing. I suspect that come Monday, I won't want to go again, but at least now I know a little of why I push myself to do something that I don't feel like doing so often. Because it is better to have a break from the thoughts even if for only a minute at a time, than no break at all. And when my concentration is bad, then nothing else gives me any break at all.
'We dance for laughter, we dance for tears, we dance for madness, we dance for fears, we dance for hopes, we dance for screams, we are the dancers, we create the dreams.' - Anonymous