The Past Revisited

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So a combination of two seemingly unrelated events have driven the need for a post.  What were they?

  1.  Facebook does this thing from time to time when they pop up a picture you posted a year or two after you’ve posted it.  Not sure why they do this but the one that came up was me in my smooth dance gear getting ready to do a heat at the Dance-o-rama.
  2. The Girl with the Tree Tattoo linked to a post on introverts and withdrawal.  I should probably link to it but I’m sure most of you already read and follow TGTT, so you’ve seen it already.  Its a good post though.

You see, I started writing this blog a little over two years ago a couple of months before I was going to do my first Dance-o-rama which is the comp like thing run by the Famous Franchise.  I really had no outlet to express and explore all the new feelings this was kicking up and I turned to cyberspace and just cast my thoughts out there not knowing where it would lead.

One line in the post on introverts that really resonated was that introverts have a fear of newness or the unknown.  Fear is the key word here.  I wanted to know all about what I was getting myself into so I could mentally prepare but all I kept hearing was “Its just like a Showcase” (more on that later) which really didn’t give me what I needed.

I had come off a couple of very successful Showcases and was starting to feel good about my dancing although those demons and insecurities weren’t too far beneath the surface.  But there is a quantum leap between having a good Showcase and having a good comp.  Suddenly, my instructor, who wasn’t the most supportive person to begin with, turned into a hyper critic and it felt like everything I was doing was wrong.  The demons escaped from their cages and started to torment me and my thoughts which just drove more fear of what was going to happen to me at this scary new place.

It was kind of like a dog who’s scared of thunder.  You can’t comfort them and they don’t know what they want.  They huddle near you panting like crazy but petting doesn’t ease the fear.  They try to hide but can’t find a good place.  It can get irritating and I’ll admit that I’ve snapped at my one dog before.  Of course, I felt guilty immediately after and now I try to just gently get her into her cage at the first sign of a storm.  I know you are saying that it is different for a person but it really isn’t.  Fear is irrational.  Fear can take over and make you do and say things that you normally wouldn’t.  At the same time, I was doubling the amount of time I was spending in the studio to try and prepare because I felt I had so much to do.  Between that and work, I had no real down time to collect my thoughts and get on top of the emotions.  And it eventually lead me to snap and lash out and basically tell Z that she had forced me to go to this event.  That’s what set off our first big argument.

(I should also mention at the time that I was still six months into my new body after the weight loss and I hadn’t fully adjusted so all the old body image issues were still really close to the surface.  Just another part of the toxic mix of emotions I was feeling)

So we get to the event and it is nothing like a Showcase.  Maybe to an extrovert, they are the same thing but not to a somewhat sensitive introvert.  A comp is noisy and busy with people moving everywhere and fast paced with people trying to get to heats and on and off the floor.  The stress level is incredible and you can feel the tension in people as they warm up and or wait to get on the floor.  The lucky ones have a group or team with them to help diffuse the situation, but I had nobody.  My instructor who I had counted on to be my protector, my guide, the one who was going to tell me it was OK wanted nothing to do with me.  In fairness, she was competing as well and so there was some extra tension for her and I was the first student she had ever taken to one of these things so that was a new experience for her.  Still, in retrospect, in any disagreement in a relationship like this when you have to work together, someone has to be the bigger person and that really should have been her.

I remember feeling so mentally overwhelmed and I couldn’t find a place to retreat.  I’d go to my room hoping for a little quiet but the voices just kept yelling at me and I couldn’t turn off the flood of things I was feeling.  I tried walking around downtown Chicago to try and find something else to distract me but it was just more people and noise and stimulation.  I remember feeling so alone and isolated which seems silly given that I was surrounded by people.  I ended up texting someone I knew back home and them calling me back because the text must have sounded a little desperate.  I remember times when all I wanted to do was just run away and I couldn’t.

By the way, thanks Facebook for bringing all that back in vivid color.

In retrospect, it was clear that Z had no clue who I really was an no real understanding of what it means to be an introvert.  I certainly couldn’t cop to the fear or even try to explain it because she wasn’t going to understand anyway.  After all, “its just like a Showcase”.  I think some of it was her attempt to maybe not freak me out too much before the event but that just made the freak out at the event that much worse.

I also know now that I accepted a lot of stuff that I shouldn’t have.  I took sole responsibility for much of went wrong when things did.  All that did was keep those demons close at hand and leave me doubting myself even more.  All those car rides home when I was second guessing myself for something that happened and thinking “if only I could be different”.  Yes, there was a lot of learning in those years but a lot of bad stuff came along for the ride.

It is why these last two months have been the most productive and easily the most fun I’ve had in the last two years.  I was finally able to build on some of the concepts Z drummed in to me because I was working with an instructor who was calm and clearly supportive and worked with me.  I don’t need the drill sargent to order me around.  It is also why I’ve felt the loss so deeply and why I’ve questioned where to go next.  But what I can also do is just enjoy the fact that I did have those two months to heal the wounds that were created through all the strife and tension with Z.  It was what I needed at the time.

In a way, I can thank Facebook for the flashback.  I’m not the same person I was in that photo.  I’m more confident about my dancing.  I’ve adjusted to and grown more comfortable with my new body and what it can do.  I have a deeper understanding of what being an introvert truly means and where and why it can cause problems for me.  The road for me just took an unexpected detour and I have no idea where we go next.  I just know I’ll be dancing down that road.  And, of course, telling you all about it.

3 comments

  1. Funny how all sorts of things pop up at the same time, when you least expect it. I just went to my first comp last weekend, and man, you nailed it on the freaking head. I only danced in a formation, but I stayed the whole weekend because I know that competing is something I want to do in a few months, but I also know that my capacity to deal with the new and unknown can be shaky at times, so I needed to get a chance to simply be a spectator without the additional pressure of performing constantly. It’s taken me a full week to ” emotionally detox” from the experience, and that article that TGWTTT linked was so on the money. (Thanks for that, btw!)

    Just being around all those people and all their energy and feelings and anxiety made me feel very anxious on their behalf (classic INFP, I guess?). Any advice on how to deal next time?

    1. First of all, congrats on going to a comp! That’s a big step for some of us. I will say that it gets better because having experienced it once, you are mentally better able to handle it. What I did was to bring my lap top because I’ve got a few games and things I do so I could keep myself occupied in my downtime. Just doing something familiar made it seem more like I was at home and not in a hotel room waiting to go on again. It doesn’t help completely but nothing has reached the emotional freak out of my first experience. Keep at it.

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