Have you ever been in love?
The kind of love where you want to be with someone ALL THE TIME, and no matter what you’re doing you feel more complete when they’re around? When you want them there for the fun times and you need them there for the hard ones?
The kind of love that makes you feel deeper and become better every day? The kind of love that pushes you outside yourself, where you grow as a person but you’re also helping others grow? The kind of love that makes you feel like the best version of yourself?
That love that you never get sick of? Where you can’t imagine your life without that person? The type of love that draws all of your attention and holds on to it? That crazy love you’ll sacrifice ANYTHING for??? Have you ever loved someone so much that even during those hard days, when you didn’t get along, when you didn’t really “like” them, you still loved them so much that the thought of leaving them never even crossed your mind? Even if those hard spots lasted for months on end?
Have you ever loved someone who made you grateful just to have the privilege of experiencing their presence in your life? Have you ever been so in love that it made you excited just to be alive????
Have you ever broken up with that love of your life?
Maybe you realized your values and priorities were a little too different. Maybe you were moving in different directions and drifted apart. Maybe it wasn’t your choice, it was theirs. Maybe the life you always imagined with that person wasn’t in reach anymore. Maybe the relationship had turned toxic, even abusive. Maybe you realized that no matter how passionate you were about that person, your relationship just didn’t make sense logically. Maybe you fell out of love. And maybe it all still made sense, and it all still felt worth it – but you just knew it wasn’t right.
Have you ever felt heartbroken, no matter how right you knew your decision was? Have you ever hoped and prayed that somehow it was all a test? That maybe this break up wasn’t permanent? That all the problems that made you separate would disappear, or suddenly become irrelevant???
Have you ever had to run to the bathroom in public, just to catch the fountain of tears that would escape after a random flood of memories? Have you ever been so sad that you couldn’t eat? Couldn’t sleep? Couldn’t move? Sometimes couldn’t even breathe?
Have you ever lost your friends because your relationship was what tied you to them? Not because they didn’t care about you anymore, but because you didn’t just didn’t see them anymore? Have you ever lost so much more than just a person you loved when you lost them?
Have you ever felt so much pain at missing someone that it paralyzed you at times, but you somehow still felt grateful to have had the privilege of loving someone so much that it was still causing you pain far past the time it should have ended?
Have you ever wanted to cry with a friend but known that they would never understand unless they experienced the exact same thing? Have you ever wondered why other people could make it work and you couldn’t? Have you ever questioned why people seem to recover so much faster from a broken heart than you do?
Have you ever struggled to understand why you broke up with someone? Have you ever had to deal with people telling you how perfect you were together? Have you ever been unable to find a reason to disagree?
Have you ever longed to get that love back? Have you ever constantly thought about calling up that person who made you so happy, but decided against it – knowing that catching up and trying to be “just friends” would only make you remember how great they are and how wonderful they made you feel?
Have you ever wondered how you’re supposed to go on without the person who made you feel so completely, perfectly, whole? Have you ever felt like you’re wandering around with a big gaping hole in your soul, that you’re not sure will ever be filled?
That’s the best way I can describe the heartbreak I feel about dance.
I LOVE dance. I dreamed of being a professional dancer from the time I first stated my career goals in a kindergarten journal. I took as many classes as possible as early as my mom would let me. I often arrived early at the studio to watch the other dancers practice. I replayed old VHS tapes of my recitals over and over again until I had learned every dance routine the advanced girls I admired had performed. I taught dance to other students as early as I was allowed. I saved all my money from the time I was 10 years old and spent it on summer dance intensives, and I never regretted my decisions.
I went to rehearsal even when I was too sick to go to school. I chose dance over friends without ever considering skipping a class. I performed through injuries and illnesses, never questioning whether or not it was worth it. I skipped family trips. I missed birthday parties and school dances. I majored in dance in college and can count the number of non-dance-related parties I went to on one hand. I lost interest in guys the second they asked me to skip rehearsal. I gave up everything for dance and never questioned my choices.
It’s been a year now since I’ve taken a dance class.
Sure, I’ve danced in my living room or even improvised at a dance studio, but for one whole year I have not taken a single class.
Since I was three, I’ve never gone more than 3 months without taking a dance class, and even that felt unbearable.
For a year now, every single day, I have missed dance.
–I’m not going to talk about why I’m not dancing now, partly because it’s too long of an explanation, partly because I still don’t completely understand how this happened, and mostly because right now it’s still a little too real and personal for me to throw out over the internet. I don’t mind if people ask me about it, as long as they know that some days I just can’t talk about it.–
Not every day is a breakdown, but I have regular dips in my emotions where I realize just how much I miss it, and this weekend was one of the worst yet.
I’ve been crying for three days straight.
It started at work on Friday with no apparent trigger, when 8 of the 10 times I had to use the bathroom, I really just needed to run out before anyone saw a tear escape my eyes. It didn’t stop until a few hours ago. Sure I’ve cried hard enough that I’ve drained myself of tears long enough to make appearances in public over the past few days. Yes I’ve smiled and had happy moments where I wasn’t thinking about how much my soul is aching for movement. I wasn’t literally crying nonstop the ENTIRE three days… but the term “complete emotional breakdown” is definitely not an overly dramatic description for what I was experiencing.
On top of my heartbreak over not dancing at the moment, I was upset with myself for being upset. Although I was not successful, I was constantly attempting to fight off my emotions because I felt like if I was upset and missing something from my past, I was focusing on the negative. I felt like a Laman, a Lemuel, or Lott’s wife. I was embarrassed at my inability to ignore the loss I was feeling.
Sunday night I was talking to my mom on the phone about how our weeks went. Among all the usual great things that happened last week to give me a typical amazing week, I tried to casually slip in something about how I’d been really missing dance lately – and instead of a smooth subtle remark, I found myself crying uncontrollably as I told my mother about how I feel like a giant chunk of who I am is missing. I explained that I also felt selfish and faithless because I know Heavenly Father is guiding my life and He has blessed me SO MUCH. I have a job I really like, lots of amazing friends, and the one thing that really matters – The Gospel of Jesus Christ. Through choked sobs I explained that I just felt guilty for being such a drama queen, and I didn’t understand why I was still getting extreme tidal waves of emotion one year later.I felt completely out of control and upset at how much I was allowing myself to hurt.
I don’t know what I expected her reaction to be, but I certainly didn’t expect what came out of her mouth next:
“That seems like a completely normal response and it makes perfect sense.”
I sat shocked on the other end of the line as I asked “It… does?… a year later? for three days straight? feeling like I went through a MAJOR breakup? you think this is normal?”
My amazing Mom sat on the phone and explained to me that OF COURSE this still hurts. Dance was what my life revolved around for 20 years. While it didn’t define me entirely, it certainly had a huge impact on creating the person I am today. Dance is what I spent all of my time focusing on. It’s what I LOVED to do. It gave me goals to work towards, people to serve, a way to express my creativity, an outlet for my emotions, an insane amount of exercise, and something to be passionate about. Dance was my everything.
“You loved it so much. Of course it still hurts to give it up, of course you are heartbroken, of course you’re still having breakdowns about it, you gave up a part of you, and that’s hard, and it’s okay that it still hurts.”
In that moment, it dawned on me, that throughout these three days as I had been shaming myself for being upset, and considering myself faithless because I was sad… I had never been getting that message from Heavenly Father. The only thing I had felt from Him was a mourning with me at my heartache. I had never felt Him tell me that what I was feeling was wrong, un-Christlike, or sinful in any way. In fact, in a way… all this pain felt sort of beautiful… almost like it made me more whole. God knows I trust Him. He knows I’m moving forward. He knows that my confusion and sadness at abandoning something so important to me is hard. He knows my heart.
After that conversation, I came inside and I let myself cry as much as I wanted to. I let myself remember all of the strength and confidence that came from dancing and I let myself miss it. I mourned the loss of something that brought me closer to God and made me a better person for so many years. I just let myself be sad for a while.
I cried into my pillow until about 4 am when I was finally so exhausted from all of the emotion I had dumped out that I fell asleep. I woke up 3 hours later and cried a little on my way to work before making it through the day with only one necessary timeout to run to the bathroom and breathe for a moment.
After arriving home after work, I went to my mailbox and found a package from my parents containing presents from their trip to Hawaii and a late Easter present of Cadbury Eggs. I felt a grin come over my face as I realized how grateful I am for my parents, and I thought “This is such a small thing, but it’s making me happy, and I’m going to allow it to do that. I am going to allow this small package to change my mood.“. I let my happiness at this unexpected package take over and push out the remainder of my sadness. As intense as my emotions were these past few days, and as ridiculous as it seems for one small package to mend up my broken heart, I simply let it do just that, I allowed myself to feel better when I was done grieving.
I am positive this will not be the last time I cry about this. Even as I work on being “just friends” with dance, and doing it on the side as hobby, I am positive that I will still experience giant tidal waves of missing it as such a central part of my life. I honestly don’t know if I will ever completely stop missing dance, but what I do know is how I’m going to handle it when those emotional tsunamis come. I know that I’m going to let myself feel whatever I need to feel as completely as I can. I know that when I’m ready, I’m going to let myself come out of that hard spot and keep moving. I know that I’m going to trust God and remember that even when I feel like my heart is breaking, He is right there with me.
I guess as I’ve written this extremely long post, I’ve realized that my reasons for writing it are three-fold.
- I miss dance. I know the world has kept turning, and that no one else’s life was really effected by my choice to change career paths. By no means was I a prodigy or extraordinarily talented. I don’t think anyone has been sitting and waiting for an explanation from me. But somehow I feel like I owe dance something. I feel like I just want dance to know how much I loved it. I want the world to know that leaving it behind for the time being hasn’t been easy. I want any dancers out there in the same boat to know they aren’t the only ones hurting this bad, feeling guilty after leaving their passion behind. I guess I want people to know that it matters to me.
- It’s okay to be sad. It’s not bad to miss some thing, or some one, or some place that you love. It’s not sinful to be sad when something important to you is gone, even if that sadness comes when you don’t feel ready for it. If Christ never wanted us experience sorrow He wouldn’t have counseled us to “mourn with those that mourn”, and “comfort those that stand in need of comfort”. We are sometimes meant to grieve, and that process doesn’t have a Universal timeline or a definite ending. Steer clear of anger, blame, and resentment, but don’t place grief in that same category. you’re unsure of whether your sadness is a healthy form of sorrow or a toxic focus on the negative, just ask Heavenly Father, He will let you know.
- Let the little things make you happy. As I’ve said before, choose to see the sunflowers. That doesn’t mean completely ignoring your pain, but it does mean that when happiness is trying to enter your life, you have to choose to let it in. You can choose to ignore the little things that bring light in to your life, or you can choose to focus on them and make them the big things.