Dance and Recovery from Rape pt. 1

I’ve been going to dance for about 5 months now, and I have been writing and drawing again. I can honestly say that letting myself create something, participate in something expressive, is sometimes harder than remembering the bad memories I have. Recovery has been an odd timeline, and I’ve been progressing, as best as I can. I’ve slowly gotten back to the “regular” life -sort of- I live with my boyfriend, I’m seeing friends, I’m working regularly (from home, but nevertheless). Dance however has been a whole new challenge. It’s making me see, and I see more than I can bare sometimes. Here is some ways in which dance has changed me in these past months:

Creating and Drawing

In the past months, I’ve been regularly stretching and practicing for dance classes. Sometimes going there is the best part of my day, and sometimes it freaks the hell out of me. But I keep going. I’ve thought that I’ve left parts of my life, the unwilling victims of my bad past- like drawing. For me, it’s hard to draw when I’m in tremendous pain, or when I’m so torn inside. I know drawing is an expression, and therefore I should be able to use it to express the bad too…but I am not certain I can let myself do that. Every time I try, even since I can remember, to draw in a bad moment, I close up. For all you know, I’ve got no feelings, I’m so freakin’ bottled up.

But dance cuts open through the walls in my life, and I have to either let it happen, or let it go. As it is, I let it inside. And lately, a new/old instinct is coming back to me. The instinct to draw, now even more unrestricted and better. I sketch with no aim at all, for the enjoyment of it. I make a landscape drawing with no idea at all, just dabbing into the tempera colors and enjoying the mixture of bright colors, mixing them and painting like a child. It’s not really about the result- I’m like a kid in a candy store, and I’m making every minute matter. It’s unbelievably fun and enjoyable- and as it turns out, my drawings end up just as good as before, if not better. I’m in love with doing that- and it breaks my heart at the same time. The moment I finish I’m elevated, and then suddenly- I want to cry. My chest feels like it will break. I realize I’ve settled til now. I’ve settled for a good life- but not a great life. I’ve settled for safe life. I’ve left drawing and passions behind me, because they make me feel, and I think it will break me. Truth is, bottling up everything within me, it won’t break me, but it’s much more unhealthy. I’m like an emotional time bomb that explodes at the slightest touch.

And that’s what dance is for me, every time. It’s so beautiful and elegant, so out of the dark corners of what happened to me, that I feel something breaking in me every time I go there. It’s the most powerful thing I’ve found lately. Dance is a language, and I can not express anything into it, if I cripple all emotions in me. I’m new there and for now I’m just concentrating on even getting the ability to do the moves- and even so, I feel the walls in me falling down. I feel, more than I would like to admit. It hurts sometimes, and I don’t want to ever hurt again- but I have to let myself feel things, if I want to dance or draw or do any art. Or else, I have to settle for a safe life. It’s not a bad thing, truly, there’s nothing bad about a safe life- but dance has let me see a bit further than that, and I don’t want to give that up…even when it hurts.

Body-control

I’m learning ballet. I’m over 20 years old and I’m learning ballet for a first time in my life. I’ve let go of the idea that I control my body a long time ago. May be even before I was raped I wasn’t always in control, I can’t be sure. I have a friend that asked me once if I feel like I’m weaker and more vulnerable because of what happened. It feels like a cruel question, because I don’t know the answer. Sometimes I feel that I survived what happened- and I have recovered a lot lately- so I am stronger. I’m pretty sure 2 years before, if anything like that had happened, I would have felt like I want to die. But whether I am stronger or not is a valid question- I’m stronger, yet at times much more breakable, shaky, uncertain. I think it will be a long while more before I get out of that. But ballet doesn’t let compromises. It needs you to be 100% in.

I’ve never been 100% in anything…but, I need this. It’s a struggle, every time, but after the first few classes, I already see some changes, tiny muscles in my body, agreeing a little more with what we are doing in class, parts of me following the movements in class in ways in which I wasn’t able to before. I’m improving, and that isn’t just a thing. That is saving my life. Being in a dance where every muscle in your body is involved and your control is a test- and it makes me a failure from start. I can see already that I’m behind most people there. Even if we disregard the fact that most of them are teenagers and this is somewhat easier on their bodies- a year of depression and laying in bed has made me weak and inflexible. My body just refuses to follow things, even easy things. But slowly, I learn to. I stretch out of class, try things on my own, and slowly my body starts to obey me again. I’d given up on that long time ago. I’d given up on that while I was lying under that guy being unable to move an inch. I’d given up then.

But now…now my body is becoming mine again. Sometimes when we try to do a certain move, it’s not even that I can’t move that way, but that I don’t feel my body there, like that guy removed all feeling I had in me. I’ve closed myself a long time ago, and ballet just needs me to open up. There’s no way around it. Slowly I begin feeling my back, my toes, the arches of my feet. Slowly I begin reconciling with my body again. It had betrayed me long time ago, when I couldn’t stop that guy from forcing me to sleep with him. I have betrayed my body my laying and eating junk and hiding myself ever since. Now we are finally reconciling.

To see my body do things I couldn’t do before the rape even, it’s the best recovery tool.

It shows me that I can still grow.

(to be continued)

Art Therapy…or something

“I need the darkness

the sweetness 

the sadness the weakness,

oh I need this… ”

-Natalie Merchant, My Skin

I have read that expressing your feelings in some artistic way may help with things like abuse and so on a long time ago, but I didn’t have to read it to use it. At some point, there is only so much you can do when you are dealing with rape.

Talking gets old and only hurts more. Reading can’t save you from thinking, and thinking about it prevents you from being able to do any other work. There is this deep, bleeding void within you, and you simply have to do something. Continue reading

{my} Africa

I was going to first do a post on what happened during the last 2 years before I stopped denying my trauma, but if I go chronologically, this post comes before.

This is about the reason I made this blog besides getting over the rape.

This is about who I became and the dream born that very same summer.

*

As I said before, when I went there, I needed to make money. In combination of things, including being in the middle of financial crisis years, I found finding a job increasingly hard. And with everything else happening that summer, in the middle of addiction, abuse, homeless people and gunshots I saw that summer, I knew I had to make choices for myself, and I was reluctant to let this world chew me up and spit me out. I knew I was smart and creative, and I thought I can change things around.

As it turns out, that was too naive of me. I was facing something bigger than the knowledge I had. Either way, I was there, and I had to do something to preserve my sanity.

So I thought- long and hard- of the life I want after I get out of that hell hole. I have been raised not really thinking that I can make a living out of creative things. Artist life was for hobbies, not for actual making living out of it. That summer assured me that life is too short to live it in a way you don’t enjoy.

I wanted to do something creative. I was going to try to do it part time while being there, to make some more money. At first I thought of the most obvious (for me) – making drawings and greeting cards, and trying to sell them to tourists (it was the middle of the summer, I loved drawing, and that made sense)…but in the middle of the emotional turmoil I was feeling, I couldn’t find inspiration to do that. Unlike some people, feeling low usually completely froze me when it came to drawing. I can draw only when happy.
I even tried pushing myself- I went to a crafts store and bought things for drawing in vague attempt to inspire myself. The fact that I spend some of my last money for supplies for something that I wasn’t sure would work, produced the opposite result. But I kept trying and praying.

Drawing did not work out for me. I stopped drawing that summer and none of my attempts to get back to it these 2 years succeeded.  But in my second visit in the store, I completely randomly stopped in the isle with beads and things for creating jewelry- they were all so different and colorful and I was fascinated. I must have been there for an hour, looking through things, materials, books with beading basics…that day I bought my first supplies for jewelry creating.

Later on I will create my own etsy store and decide to sell them online. And it will take 2 years for me to figure out that I want to take it and make it main source of living.

But for that moment, I just bought supplies, not even sure what my plan is, and not knowing much. But between different types of pliers, head pins, and my first pale pink crystal beads, I fall in love with jewelry making.

And 2 years later turns out, it isn’t a fling-it’s a life-long love affair.

p.s. yesterday I missed adding post for the day, but just like missing a day in a diet should now stop you from completing it, I’m not letting this one day derail me from posting each day from now on.