I hate today. It’s my mother’s birthday. While I would never ever contact her, it is a reminder that she has made it one more journey around the sun. Why do the biggest monsters seem to live the longest? I thought my grandparents would never croak. They seemed to stick around forever. With all their trauma, you would think they would have died an early death. I mean really. My body started falling apart in my 20’s. If I hadn’t started emotional recovery work, I am sure I would not be able to stand today. So what the hell? Needless to say, September is not my favorite month from an anniversary perspective. There are too many birthday ghosts to contend with. Some years I am not very impacted. But this year, I am processing some contracts. And breaking them has been intense.
When I say intense, I mean futile. My controller HATES futility. You may have noticed I like to be productive. I like doing things. I am an extrovert. I would interact with people all day if I could. Futility stops that. (So does single motherhood but that’s a different story.) Don’t get me wrong, I like quiet time alone, but only when it’s peaceful. Futility is not peaceful. It is an inner war. But as I attempt to embrace my true inner self more, I must release the futility associated with my contracts and that sucks (technical recovery term). This weekend was certainly no different in that regard.
I danced again this weekend. I went to a regional dance competition and I participated in competition heats. Let’s be very clear. I wasn’t trying to win anything. I was trying to stay on my feet and straighten my posture. That’s it. Others were there to win of course. There were dancers who had started dancing in their toddler years (mostly the professionals). They were very inspiring to watch. And there were dancers who were there to inspire me in different ways. There were dancers fighting through chronic physical illness. There were dancers who were in their 80’s. There were dancers who were coming back from back surgery or fighting anxiety or the fear of being visible. And there were dancers who were just hoping the one problem area of the body would hold up for the day. They were great people who made me feel less alone.
There was certainly trauma in the room although nobody admitted it, and I never point it out if people haven’t asked. But my trauma was in full effect in my mind and body. There was self-sabotage from the very beginning. There were triggers before I set foot in the ballroom. And my mind was interpreting everything in the worst possible ways. No matter how much prep I did, the trauma was there. The contracts were there. At one point, I left and went to my room to write. There was plenty of toxic sludge coming forward. It sounded something like this:
“Who do you think you are performing like this? You aren’t good enough for this. You are making a fool of yourself. You look stupid and everyone is better than you. You will never be the best or the prettiest. They are all just tolerating you. They don’t even think you should be here. Just give up.”
My karma kid was speaking, but this was a flashback. It was a flashback of a dance recital from when I was younger than 10. This was my mother’s opinion of my abilities on the stage. And while I have known for a while that my mother was jealous and in charge of destroying my confidence on a daily basis, something else became obvious to me. She was scared. She was scared that my trauma was showing. I was dissociating. I was messing up. I was slouching. I was truly not as good as the others, but not because of raw talent. And my mother was worried people would figure it out. She wanted me to quit before it became obvious. And I did. With that level of discouragement, of course I did.
But I did my best on Saturday with all this whirling around in my system. It wasn’t perfect, but I stayed on my feet. I remembered my routines (sort of). And with enough instructors gently reminding me about my posture, I remembered to push my shoulders back for about half the performances. In general, it was a success despite my inner world. At the end of the day, I had to begrudgingly admit that I had spent the entire experience in a flashback. And that meant there was dissociation. And that sucks. Of course I wanted better. As I sit here today (and yesterday and the day before), I have been hit with futility for a different reason. It isn’t about the contract with my mother to never dance again. It is about recovery.
Clearly I am here to heal. This much I know. But sometimes, I get tired. I get tired of going out of my way to take big chances only to be met with unbroken contracts on the days when I need the most presence. I get tired of the self-sabotage after working so hard to overcome it. I get really tired of the dissociation at the wrong moments. I am just tired. And I can hear this part (controller of course) saying that’s enough. I’ve done enough. I’ve pushed enough. I don’t have to keep putting myself out there in new ways and fighting through all these obstacles. But I also hear the part of me who knows there is more to life than hiding away because things are hard. So for today, I will rest from my intense ventures to free myself from my contracts. And tomorrow or next week or next month, I will take another step because they don’t get to win. And one day, I will dance without the resistance. I know it.
Come join me in Survivor’s Guide for Life this October as we discuss Breaking Contracts to Live Authentically.