Why I continue to dance through the pain

There are days in my life like today where a story demands I sit down and write it.

This week has been a dark one. Is the isolation getting to me? Probably. Do I feel out of control? Absolutely. Is it my worsening health? Am I starting to slide into depression? My debt? The trip I won’t take but am paying on? The fact that I won’t get to graduate? The answer is a resounding all of the above.

The one thing in my life, which has always been constant, is dance. I’ve spoken on here before about my love of dance, how with each new goal achieved I was clawing back my pride in myself and my body.

The question I’m asked all the time, by my family, friends, coworkers and other dancers is why, with my health the way it is, do I keep dancing? I’ve danced on broken feet, torn muscles, through glandular fever, a broken arm, torn ligaments, and through the very worst of my gastroparesis and POTS. I’ve danced in a wrist brace, knee brace, ankle braces, and held together by what seemed like an entire roll of tape. I’ve had to lie down in a corner when I couldn’t stand upright, and have someone waiting to catch me sidestage.

I’m constantly told I should stop. Fom well-meaning family to overbearing strangers and one-off ER docs, I’m bombarded with the message that I am #sick, and that as someone with a chronic illness I should wrap myself in bubble wrap and stick to exercises that are safe. You might think you can do this, but you can’t.

This year was meant to be my year. I had a few false starts in 2019, but I made it to all the major competitions, hit several of my goals, and laid a solid foundation for 2020. I’d booked flights and accomodation to travel halfway around the world to the North American Irish Dancing National Championships, followed by the Australian International Oireachtas.

In Australia, the social distincing measures have shut down all dance schools, state borders are closed, and I am staying within my bubble as much as possible to protect myself and other vulnerable people around me. So I let myself have my pity party for a few days, and then it’s been time to pick myself up and move onwards.

I am grateful for the social distancing measures which have been put in place to keep me and people like me safe. I am grateful for the people in my life who have been so supportive and helped me work through my disappointment and keep me focused on what’s important. I am grateful for my wonderful dance teachers for implementing fun challenges and starting zoom classes next week to keep our training going. And I am grateful that this crisis has made me take a step back, evaluate what is important, and remember why I dance.

The short answer is, I can’t stop.


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