I’ve been sitting on this post for a while, knowing it was one I would have to write but having no clue how I would actually do it.
It feels like such a big and heavy thing, but also nonchalant. Do I really need to write about it? Does this really matter in the grand scheme of this ballet story of mine?
It does. And I do.
As y’all know, I have Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, as well as a list of other ailments. It’s caused me to have to slow down most everything in my life, including quite a bit at dance. I did my best to give up everything I could so that I could somehow muster enough energy to get through the work days required of me. It was a slow fade, one that took a little more of myself with each inch it required me to give. One less class here, then no shows, then no classes at all. While all this was happening, I was subconsciously sacrificing things in my personal life as well. Dishes would pile up for weeks, laundry would stack, before I knew it I couldn’t see the surfaces of my house and I didn’t have any bit of strength in me to do anything about it. I found myself hiring kids from dance saving up for summer intensives just to do my dishes. This became my reality; commonplace.
When I slowed down long enough to truly evaluate my life and where it had ended up, I realized I hadn’t been to a grocery store in three months. The thought of walking in, going through and getting what I needed, walking back to the car, driving home, and putting it all away left me almost in a panic at how exhausting it was, let alone the thought of cooking and having to clean up afterwards.
I couldn’t do it all.
But this isn’t stuff I can sacrifice. These aren’t the things people judge me for, by saying it’s not necessary, or it’s frivolous and I should give it up to better myself in this way or that. These are the basic needs of life.
And this isn’t working out.
I knew I had to stick it out through our busy season at the office, and told myself once it was over I would reevaluate and see what my doctor had to say at the appointment I had scheduled the day after tax season ended. (that was a nightmare I don’t feel like reliving, so we’ll just get to the point here.)
I am no longer physically able to work a 9-5 job.
In fact, the worst thing someone with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome can do is push through on “good days,” and even worse on the bad ones. The best thing to do is things in small bursts, with lots of rest in between, and to let yourself sleep when you’re tired, even if it’s in the middle of the day. I have to strategically eat smaller meals, and do what I can to conserve energy when I can. Coincidentally, lack of physical activity makes it all worse. The fact that I’m not dancing is only dramatizing what is already in sharp decline.
My last day was today, which is exactly two weeks from the day I told my boss what my doctor said. I wasn’t sure if I’d leave this soon or if they’d keep me on part time for a bit, but this seems to be the best case for everyone.
It’s bitter sweet, and terrifying to say the least, but I’m truly hopeful it will be beneficial.
And honestly, I have no choice. When I listened to my dear friends who encouraged me to stop long enough to see where my life was and where it was heading, reality screamed at me. This isn’t normal. I should be able to walk through a grocery store, I should be able to handle washing some dishes or doing a load of laundry without passing out, I should be able to eat food without feeling so incredibly nauseous and exhausted, as though my body was using every ounce of energy just to try to digest, I should be able to get through a day without feeling like I could close my eyes at any given moment and sleep for a couple hours. My life isn’t normal anymore, and I can’t fool myself into thinking I can keep going as if it were.
The hardest part of all this is going against the expectations I feel have been placed on me. This isn’t something I really ever thought I struggled with, but the deeper I’ve gone in myself to fully grasp and understand what I’m doing and why it’s necessary, the more I’ve realized how much I’ve let people’s opinions of me and my life hold me back. I’ve known that I struggle with fear, but this was more than I had let myself realize before.
It’s taken quite a bit of soul searching to be even remotely sort of okay with it all, but I can’t help but feel hopeful at the prospects I have ahead, even if they don’t all seem to make sense or have a place yet. I know this is something I need to do, and that the pieces will come together as they need to, I just have to make myself keep walking in the direction of what my heart is telling me and where peace is leading. God has never lead me wrong before, why would He now?
I’m an ambassador for LIVE and we have weekly challenges. Last week’s was to create a “Life List.” It’s like a bucket list, but instead of big and drastic far-off things, its a list of things you want to do with your life right now, or small things you can do to get you closer to the big goals. I’m posting mine a little late realizing that so much of what was on my list isn’t what would have been on a list a year ago. These are things that I’ve lost ground on due to illness and that I’m hoping to get back with all these changes I’m making to better myself.
I’m hopeful that these changes will allow me to be able to take classes again. My hope is to be able to teach more classes of tiny baby nuggets, as the layout of teaching is actually ideal for everything I’m dealing with.
I saw my chiropractor last week and let him know everything that was going on. He agreed to sign off on a disability parking placard for me to help with going to the grocery store and other things that involve sometimes having to park in the back of parking lots, which drains energy I already only have in limited supply. This has caused me to have to do a lot of reevaluating of mindsets I have and how I will inevitably deal with people who are of the opinion that my issues aren’t good enough if I don’t fit the mold of what they think someone should look like to be able to use disability parking spaces. We’re going to start with a short-term placard and see if all these changes help me eventually not need it, but if not he’ll issue a permanent one. He also suggested scooters for me to look into getting to help me not have to walk around stores and venues, which also lets me sit instead of stand. Being that I won’t be working a full-time job, I’ll obviously have to save for one, and in doing so if I find I’m well enough to not need one before I have enough saved up, then I’ll just have all that money set aside for something else instead, but if I do need it I’ll get it.
It took me a second to get past the irony of how someone could be a ballet teacher, but also need handicap parking permits and scooters to get around, and I can’t expect everyone to understand it, but this is my reality. I have limited amounts of energy, and any way that helps me conserve that to use it where I most need to, like teaching ballet, I want to use to my advantage instead of wasting the limited amounts I have on something like having to walk from the back part of the parking lot.
Thankfully, I have met some of the most incredible people through social media that have helped me realize that this is something I need to do. That I’m not crazy or being dramatic, and that putting myself first is not only okay, but necessary. It has made all the difference in the world to have their examples to follow, and their stories to hear that help me see mine for what it truly is instead of what people have told me it should be.
This has been a hard post to write, not necessarily because I’m uncomfortable about talking about all this, but rather it’s just so much to say in such few words. Still, I wanted to give y’all a sort of reference point to come back to when stories inevitably come out of this change. I’m nervous as heck to make such a huge leap, but I’m excited and hopeful to see where I land.
Started ballet late October of 2011 at the age of 23.
Began pointe training late August of 2013.