I’m used to covering up. I do it every day for work in one specific way. The scars on my arms are always covered at work. Always. Outside of work, I couldn’t care less if they are seen. They are simply part of who I am. I have left behind the shame and the self-consciousness that I carried for so long about them. They are, along with the rest of the markings that my body carries, the telling of my story on my skin. Yet I also know the judgement that people make about them. So, for workdays, they are kept covered. It is a constant annoyance to me that I have to base my clothing choices, at work, on what can be worn so that I won’t show a part of myself that could be an issue in people’s perception of my capability and even my stability. But that’s the way it is and I have learned to accept that.
In the same manner, I take out the visible jewellry of my septum piercing on Sunday nights and replace it with a retainer. Invisible when I work so that the facial piercing is, like my scars, hidden away and not seen – so as to not cause judgement or perceptions that aren’t accurate.
This past Tuesday morning though, such a harder hit of covering up. Returning to work Tuesday morning after a weekend with my chosen family and tribe. The ferry ride, the drive, the feeling of being alone again settling in. After a long weekend of feeling so wrapped in people who understand and accept, it’s hard to hold onto that as I dive back into the need to cover up again. Walking into my house and immediately my mind goes to changing my clothes to be able to be presentable for work. Considering not only covering the scars on my arms but also choosing a shirt that covers the marks of the piercings in my chest and the slight bruising from the hooks placed there. Easy enough to find clothing but it’s the feeling of also having to cover up so much more than the physical this time that is hitting me deeply.
Not sure how to cover up and slip the mask on as I always do. Feeling it is harder this time than it has been. Feeling the cover up not just physical but on an emotional and base level that is leaving me feeling a bit sad. I am who and how I am, and I am blessed and grateful that I have so many in my life that see me and honour that.
The place, there, where I am simply exposed and unguarded, accepted.
The place, here, where I must delicately place a filter and keep some parts of me hidden discreetly.
There is an edge that is walked, between here and there and tonight it feels sharp.
I recently went to a step aerobics class after not having done one in almost two years. To say that I am sore would be a gross misuse of that word. While I had a great time and will definitely be starting that up again, I can’t pretend that my mind and body were far from united in their bliss during the class.
Now, I love a good top ten list, and my head works in lists and they make me happy.
Cases in point to reflect on:
Mudd Sweat and Tears aka WTF made me think this was going to be fun?!
By the Seat of My Pants aka Lesson from Lucy
Nope, not going to run aka the messed up mind of a runner
So, to round out the experience (and to help me stick on the “yes it WAS a fun time and I WILL go back train of thought….) a top ten list of my mental entertainment during the ordeal:
- Stretching is like the dessert of exercise classes so why are we not doing it more and for longer??? Yes I love cardio and strength training but let me be perfectly honest when I say I am blissed out when it is time to lay my sweaty self on the mat and not move. At. All. Ahhhhhh
- As much as things change, they stay the same. I have been teaching fitness classes since, literally (and yes I am using that word correctly), Step Aerobics was invented so I know what I’m talking about. There is comfort is familiarity. My L step is your L step. Happy.
- I still don’t follow well. I try, I really do but I have taught for so long and been the leader for so long that it’s just too hard to break that. I mix up left and right and have a tendency to let my mind wander and when it comes back, I am not where everyone else is (physically sometimes – ooops, Zumba is hell with the non-verbal cueing for me). I am polite enough to stand in the back because I know my failings here. I promise I won’t crash into anyone, that’s the best I can offer.
- Loud music with a beat makes me move. No matter how bad of a mood I’m in or how tired I thought I was. The louder the better. If you dare to complain that the music is too loud in the class, expect me to comment that earplugs are a great option. Do not mess with the one place I don’t have to worry about noise complaints from my neighbours. I will growl at you and your sensitive ears.
- Along those lines… you can take any song, no matter how retro or how current, adda 32 count beat and voila, they all sound oddly the same. Comforting yet disconcerting all at the same time.
- I still sweat 40 seconds into a class. I do not, and never will, be one of those people who “glows with perspiration”. Nope, I sweat. A lot. Like a lot a lot. And I love it. A lot.
- I still smile and encourage the people who will never hear the beat. You are doing it and loving it and I applaud that. Now go in the corner where you aren’t a distraction, thank you.
- My germ phobia issues are no better in a group setting than in the quiet weight room. Nope… oh goodness how many hands have been on these weights?!
- Gliders are the demon spawn of frisbees and as such, should be thrown hard and far. If you don’t know the wonders of these little tidbits of hell, youtube it. You’re welcome.
- Why are we still doing exercises like reverse crunches?! Didn’t we, in our secret fitness guru meetings way back in the 2000’s decide to outlaw these exercises that no one does correctly anyways!!! Sigh, that’s ok, I am more than happy to boycott them and enjoy an extra 5 minutes of stretching/napping on my mat while everyone else jerks their hips up in what appears to be intestinal seizures. Just please be quiet , I’m napping.
Trying to make sense of the swirling, spiralling mind that is mine right now. The near constant feeling of things being not right as I search for what will make it all ok.
I am fighting to both hold on and to let go at the same time and it isn’t working. Holding on , how do I keep it all together when every day the yearning to just fall apart becomes stronger? Not just a yearning but a need it feels like. Knowing at my deepest level that what I need is to fall apart, to not hold it all together anymore. To just once admit – to myself more than anyone else – that I am not ok and that I am not in control. That I haven’t been for just over four years. Knowing that to let go is the only way that I am going to come back from this edge. The edge that I’m barely balanced on right now. All the time though fighting to not give in to what feels like failure if I do let go. My sense of self so entwined with being strong and independent that to let that veneer crack is unspeakable to me. The rare times that it is released, it is almost immediately sealed back up again. A moment of surrender slammed closed with “I’m ok, I’ll be ok” through the tears as I take deep breaths and tell myself silently to pull my shit together. The fear of knowing that even when I have leaned on someone else for those moments, nothing is actually fixed for long anyways. The well of feelings that hurt and scream inside of me just fills back up again. Happening without exception every time, until my mind yells at me “See, there’s no point in letting it out! Shore up the barricade better this time and bury it more deeply this time.” The pain laughing at my stupidity at thinking that it could be healed.
How do I stop the feelings that whisper inside of me? The feelings that get so dark and so huge sometimes that their shadows block out all of the light. The feelings that are heavy and weigh me down with self-doubt and fear, insecurities and hesitation. Feelings that have stolen the lightness of being that I so desperately miss in my life. How do I unshackle them and lift them off so that I can dance and play and explore and live? How do I leave those behind and find the “me” that I know is still there. She’s still there, I know she is, too tired and too weak to fight is how she feels right now, but still there.
I don’t have answers tonight. I can’t see them through the shadows. The fear that the darkness has taken what I need to find scares me. The fear that I won’t find me again, in those shadows, is what screams inside my head. My biggest fear right now though is that the few people in my life that can see past my shadows and are holding my hand to guide me, give up and walk away. I know that they won’t and that I can trust that, but the fear is there, and on nights like this, it plays in the shadows loudly.