The Dancer that I Used to Be

I feel like I have been saying ‘I used to…’ a lot lately.

Somewhere in the middle of all of the health struggles I have been dealing with lately, something interesting occurred to me.

In many ways, I have been trying to go back to being the dancer I remember before I got sick.  I was faster, sharper, fitter and more grounded. I think my thinking was that if I could get back to that place, then I would be able to move forward again to become the dancer I want to be.

But it is time for that thinking to be put away.

I will never be the dancer I was again.  Simply because you can’t go back. The past is the past and while it may seem a bit like the ‘glory’ days, by always wallowing in ‘what used to be’ you will never be able to move forward.

I need to take a giant step back and have a look at the dancer I am now. And accept her. Only then can I figure out how to become the dancer I want to be–by figuring out where I am now and leaving behind where I was before.

Sure, I am slower, out of sorts and struggling with several things that used to come easily to me.  But there are also some aspects to who I am now I didn’t have back then.  I have more control now of my body in general.  I have improved technique and styling.  I am able to do more complicated patterns.

I have been focusing a lot of what I lost instead of appreciating what I have gained–simply because somehow I convinced myself that the gains don’t count if they aren’t done with the speed, precision, strength and fitness I had before.

But they are still gains. There is still a strong foundation to my dancing that I have built up over the past 6 years.  I haven’t lost that.  I just have to figure out how to work with what I have now, and how to use the different strengths I have now.

Once I understand the dancer I am now, I can work better to become the dancer I want to be.  And I am not sure it is still the same dancer I wanted to be before I got sick–only because there are limitations I have to work with now I didn’t have before (like having no feeling in my chest, lower belly and upper thighs).

Among other things, I need to figure out how to take the strengths I have now and build on them for the future.  My strengths used to be my speed and endurance, and those were things I focused on and took advantage of previously.  But I am older and wiser now and that means making adjustments to use my assets to my advantage.

I don’t really know what those assets and strengths are right now because I am still experiencing too much flux to really settle into them.  Something that is good one day is not so great the next.

But this is an opportunity to explore.  With any luck, after I see the specialist next week I will be able to start on something that will lead me to start feeling better again.  Even having a plan in place would be much better than what I have now which is nothing.

But the main thing is that I am recognizing and putting aside the dancer I used to be.  She had her strengths, she had very ambitious goals. But she is now a ghost of the past.  I can only get better from where I am now, not by trying to go back to where I was.

It’s interesting that this revelation of sorts came about through working on the open smooth routines.  They are slowly starting to come together, and as I work on them it occurs to me that while I might feel myself missing some aspects of the dancer I was, I am very glad for aspects of the dancer I am now–the dancer I used to be would not be able to do these routines as well as I can do them now–and I think that is something I really needed to figure out.

My struggles continue and likely will for some time.  But by letting go of the past and the dancer I used to be perhaps now I can focus on the dancer I am now–even if she is not what I had hoped or expected before I got sick.

It’s time for some new hopes and goals that look to the future and leave the past behind.


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