The thing about having a permanent illness is that it often can present unwinnable puzzles that make you want to punch a wall in frustration.
I recently took Iris Sparrow’s amazing Chair Slink class at my pole dancing school, The Vertitude in Los Angeles, California. The class was GD awesome (seriously, check her shit out) but my ligament laxity and nerve damage from a botched surgery to fix it literally made it impossible to finish. I can’t pivot on my knees or stand and kneel without pain. I can’t land on the tops of my feet nor point them well enough to be able to sit on my heels.
To say that I was crushed is an understatement. I was so angry with my body – I’d wanted to take Iris’ class for over a month because she’s amazing. I discovered mid-class that almost every pivot point in Chair necessitates pivoting on either my nerve damage or my bone fusion. I’d have to spend days isolating the moves to figure out how to not dislocate myself, and the bone fusion absolutely prevents me from most of the pivots on my feet. She did a great job trying to help me modify, but my body just couldn’t handle it.
I tried to get through the class – because I’m a big fan of always starting what I finish. Several joints tried to dislocate but then a a back bend I had never done before caused my shoulder to pop out of it’s socket (since I hadn’t programmed into my muscle memory how to brace that one) so I went into the bathroom, cried, and then vomited from the pain.
The first thing that goes through your mind is that you want to quit. Why is your body like this? And how was it fair that you became disabled like this?
But the thing is that problems are opportunities and disability is a super power.
Opportunity 1: I’m able to take skeletal damage that would put most people in the hospital and bounce back from it quite immediately because my ligaments are flexible. After the pain swell it calmed down and I was visibly ok. I’ll be in class tomorrow. I’ve survived what you have broken someone else’s ankle or worse and walked normally the same day, just minutes later.
Opportunity 2: I’ll have to isolate all of these moves and figure out what muscles to tense to brace each joint, and then I can probably approximate it. This will take days – days other people don’t have the gonads to devote to something like this. I’m going to be super powered by my own body’s necessity.
Not going to lie – I considered quitting dance. But 5 seconds later I began to think like this post. It’s ok if when you face something upsetting that you have that flight reaction. We can’t control how we feel – but we can control how we respond to it.
I’ve conditioned myself to quickly flip the switch on my internal dialogue and think like the above. It’s freeing, its powerful, and it always leads to better things.
FACE DOWN, ASS UP that’s how we fail well at being a stripper but win at having tacos in our epsom salt bath so we can go to class again tomorrow because we are superpowered (but sore)…