It’s only one week into the new year and everyone is still excited about their New Years Resolutions. It’s the the Honeymoon phase of 2019. Gyms are beehives of people trying to work off holiday pounds and exotic, overpriced detox drinks are flying off the shelf at Whole Foods. Even if you’re not the resolution type, it’s hard not to get a little starry-eyed at the prospect of a clean slate.
In the past, I’ve found resolutions notoriously difficult to maintain. I’d set an unattainable goal that should be more like a 5-year plan, beat myself up for not achieving it in twelve months, give up, and then promise to repeat this cycle the following year. So, a few years ago I decided to pick themes instead of resolutions. I’ve had The Year of Health, the Year of Creativity, the Year of Professional Development, and the Year of Not Giving a Fuck. That last one- 2018- was the year that I focused on not being a people-pleaser and instead being as truthful with myself as possible. Incidentally, I discovered that discomfort is a normal byproduct of being truthful to oneself and my Year of Not Giving a Fuck was no exception. But every uncomfortable situation, conversation, and reflection has lead to something exponentially better on the other side.
So I have declared 2019 The Year of Getting Comfortable Being Uncomfortable.
As a Reembody-Certified Apprentice, I spend a lot of time thinking and talking about the myriad ways in which we embody our emotions. It’s a very important component of The Reembody Method (I mean, it’s right there in the title: Reembody), as emotions have a profound impact on movement patterns and how we experience pain. (For a fascinating read on this topic, I recommend The Body Keeps the Score by Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk.)
During the Holidays, I experienced a frustrating flareup of back pain that I’d been grappling with since I was thirteen. (That’s twenty years, for those keeping track at home.) It affected my ability to work out and take class, which sent me into a downward spiral of anxiety. During a practice session with another Reembody-Certified Apprentice who is a personal trainer, I explained my pain and expressed frustration at its persistence. As I demonstrated the movements that bothered me the most, she watched me move, did a few corrections, manipulated my femurs, and asked a series of questions about how I move in dance class.
“I know I don’t use all of my length when I dance,” I said. (I’m quite long-limbed.) “I think that part of me holds back because I feel like I’m not good enough and the bigger I move, the more likely my mistakes are to be seen.” I was very confident about this narrative. It’s what I’d been telling myself for years, along with its companion narrative: I just need to get over it.
“What if. . .” she said without missing a beat, “. . . the part of you holding back isn’t the part that wants to hide, but the part that wants to be seen?”
I had always judged my own fear as something to ignore, suppress, or get rid of altogether. It had never occurred to me that I couldn’t disconnect it from the part of me that desperately wants to dance. It was a new idea and, I’ll admit, one I resisted at first. On the drive home from my colleague’s studio, I felt a burning rage well up inside of me. I don’t typically get angry, even when I probably should. It was a new, unfamiliar, and extremely uncomfortable thing to feel, but I couldn’t pretend like it wasn’t there. I was angry with myself, but confused about why. The answer was undeniable: She was right.
Sitting with this was uncomfortable. I cried. I wanted to punch something. It was difficult to accept that I couldn’t just get over it because my fear and my desire are one voice and if I want to continue dancing without pain, I’d have to accept all of it.
2018, The Year of Not Giving a Fuck (aka, being truthful) has sent me barreling headfirst into The Year of Getting Comfortable Being Uncomfortable. I can’t wait to see what’s on the other side.