So I’m sat here in the living room of the flat I share with my beloved fiancé I know exactly where we are in the geographical sense and I love living here it’s spacious accessible with fantastic travel links to everywhere we need to go to…it’s perfect and is a great foundation for laying down my roots for the rest of my life, my question then why do I feel so lost.in one simple sentence I allowed myself to say about not being over not being a dancer anymore even though I have spent years dealing with my feelings about this and thought I was past it all, clearly I am not.It has become obvious to me that the power of being a dancer over my self esteem was enormous the feeling of being “somebody” being recognise, and respected for my art seemed to be the big push I needed to turn over all the negativity I had felt about myself growing up I had turned “don’t stare at me” into “look at me I’m centre stage celebrating all that I am “. The timing of the end of my dance career was forced appon me, by a freak accident causing me to sustain a serious long standing back injury and the decision by central government to withdraw all funding from the company I danced with. Being a dancer gave me a whole new status a profile of being a role model to disabled people and I revelled in this position although this had its pressures I felt like someone who mattered who’s ability not disability was encouraged and celebrated and not patronised.All the time growing up I stuck out like a sore thumb but was instead of the centre of attention a loner, sent eventually to mainstream school as the only disabled student the isolation was only magnified even more and my tiny spec of self esteem was by now non existent.so the importance of my new found status as a dancer had so much behind it and was over powering. trends within the dance world like always was ever changing and disability art was flavour of the month all of a sudden so many new opportunities were laid out in front of me I felt finally I had a choice with my life and wasn’t restricted to dreaming of a soul destroying career behind a desk like I had become accustomed to.i had been encouraged as a child to be onstage as a singer in my local community, this continued into my early special school days and on doing some family research I discovered that my great grand mother was a well respected singer in her local quire which was featured during the 50’s in a Hollywood movie.my confidence with academia was so low I could finally see for myself that the arts was were I would excel and ‘fit in’.
Dance gave me so much a new career, new friends, travel, skills, discipline a new relationship with my body, a confidence in my own skin which all I had not experienced before loosing all of this came as such a massive blow one day it was there, next day, gone.I plummeted into a deep since of loss, a grief which was over baring I felt like I went from having everything or so much, to have nothing. By this time I was finally living independently and I just wanted to disappear.within months of my injury and loosing dance I also lost my first long term girlfriend dance had also given me the courage to come out as lesbian and I very happy in a relationship at the time of the accident, but as I declined physically and emotionally, so did my relationship and I was left alone to pick up the pieces. I’m not denying that I was partly to blame for the breakup I know my actions were wrong but the separation left me feeling abandoned, a loner again, unworthy of anyone attention no career and vulnerable unable to maintain meaningful friendships.
Rightly or wrongly I made the decision to cut myself off from all aspects of dance and the arts I no longer hung out with ex colleagues it was too much of a painful reminder to around them.
Years went by and I spiralled into an emotional wreck drowning out my feelings with alcohol. I yearned for something else in my life I loved being part of the arts, I began to sing write and play guitar but this wasn’t a realistic option of a new career. I always enjoyed English language at school and it ended up being my best graded GCSEs. In a crazy but beautiful turn of events I had the idea to write a book three years ago. This is what I am doing to this date, I have two published novels a string of public appearances a website and I regularly write poetry. My career is two years on it’s a slow process but like the hours of learning and experimenting in the dance studio I am learning and training myself to be the best at this as I can be. In the same conversation I had about the spence of loss of my dance career the same person made me realise what I have actually done is re invent myself I have used all the skills from my dance career and mounded them to fit into new skills in being a writer. I was so hung up on the feeling of loosing dance and mourning my dead dance career that I failed to see the new birth of myself as a writer. I yearned to find a place I felt I belonged I found it in dance, felt shut out when this time ended but made myself a new career still within the arts as a writer. What I have learned from the grieving process of grieving for my dad and best friend is that people only die if you tell yourself they are dead I still feel a presence from dad and my friend so although in the flesh yes they have gone but their memory their impression on me will be there forever, and, now I can begin to treat my time as a dancer the same way everything it gave me I can still use to slowly maintain a happy career as a writer for however long I want it to be.