My heart’s a dancer – tears and smiles from digging through the memory box

Laurie at age 7 wearing a rainbow colored tutu
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My favorite ballet costume circa 1966. I was 6 and a half. A year or so from this photo I will become obese and quit dancing, because my teacher told me I would never medically qualify for toe shoes. At the time of this photo, dance moms were already remarking on how my legs were ‘too’ big for me to study ballet. My teachers loved my creativity and musicality, but it’s true, my shape made classical technique challenging. How I wish I knew about modern dance at that time!

Here’s what I posted this morning to Facebook

Stiffness in my back today – even after my AM back exercises. So chillin’ – literally with ice-packs and watching So You Think You Can Dance on Hulu Plus. Because we don’t have regular commercial or cable TV, this is a show I’ve never seen before. Wow! Besides enjoying all of the dancing, I am so struck by the joy of the dancers. This is passion! I love to see them in their moment. This is life at its finest I think. When you are in your moment completely with your whole heart. I’ve seen it in gourmet cooks, in mothers with their kids, in singers in little kids at play. I have it at times when I’m recording my show – especially those from the mountain. I can safely say, I’ve never had that moment in the middle of dieting or bingeing.
Hmm, think I might go write a blog post on this while I’m chillin’ with my ice.

Two sides to memories


At the time I had this idea, I felt happy and excited to go find my ballerina photo. I LOVED to dance. It was one of my early passions. I still love to dance. I met Mark at square dance lessons, we ballroom dance and I even dance around the house while cleaning and singing to my cats. I’m the cat Beyoncé!

I have what I call the memory box. I toss photos, special cards, my old drivers license from Washington, my student ID from university, letters from my best friend who is now passed away, tickets from trips, old ribbons etc. This is the place for stuff I don’t want to toss, but don’t like to look at much. It is telling to me. You can see, brave companions, even from this random sample, that the memories I toss in the box are good and sad, painful and joyful, all mixed together without classification, rhyme or reason.

If it’s something from my past, I toss it in the box.

As we travel together, you and I, on this experiment where I talk or write about my feelings rather than stuffing down the chips, more and more of my feelings are coming to the surface. Random, weird, happy, sad, painful, embarrassing, moments of pride and love I’ve forgotten.

I have self-imposed amnesia.

It is true, I have much pain in my past. Much much pain. Enough that I would classify the entire first half of my life as something I don’t want to remember. But the memory box shows me that there are these other bits I push out with food and numbness.

My dad sitting me on his lap on our old boat to “let me steer” under the Narrows Bridge.

My many cats and dogs and ducks and geese and guinea pigs – all of them my friends and babies and sources of joyful fun.

My grandpa and grandma smiling while I blow out candles on my birthday cake.

My many trips to Disneyland with family, friends, old boyfriends etc. All different years and in each photo, I’m a different size.

Swimming in the Puget Sound, swimming in many motel pools, diving off our boat. I always loved the water. No matter my size, I felt free to move in water. Light, nimble, a mermaid of the deep.

Summer days at my grandma’s blueberry farm where I’d hurry to pick my 10 pounds of berries so we could rush to a lake to go swimming. We’d take two buckets while picking. In the morning you’d stand on one bucket to pick the top of the berry bushes, their size like small trees. In the heat of the afternoon, we’d turn it over and sit on the bucket to pick the underside of the bushes in the shade.

Blueberries pulled straight from the bush in warm August burst on your tongue like liquid light and explode with flavor that you cannot buy in stores. I never picked fast, but I picked very clean. My Grandma always said she could sell my bucket to the customers without having to put my haul through the berry sorting machine where leaves and unripe berries were removed.

I guess I was a perfectionist berry picker even then.

Today my search to find my inner dancer in the memory box was very painful. Both because I dug through items that remind me of the painful times, but also because I realized just how much of my life I’ve locked away out of reach.

Maybe the dancers I watch on the television, exploding with vibrant movement and freedom are using all of their emotions to create their moments. Maybe they too have darkness in their paths, but they are flying right now, tipping their wings toward the sun.

I’m thinking that part of my journey toward experiencing life instead of sleep walking through it numb, but safe, in the haze of food/diet/weight compulsion is to bravely look at each photo in this box. To remember. To regain my joy as well as my pain.

How about you, brave companions, when have you had YOUR moments? Do you also have a memory box? How do you deal with it?

Comments box:

5 thoughts on “My heart’s a dancer – tears and smiles from digging through the memory box

  1. Cheryl

    I love this post so much. I can relate to everything you said in it. (I’m also very glad you discovered SYTYCD! I’ve been watching it since Season 1 and even have a scrapbook with tons of stats from the shows in it. I’ll have to send you the link to my favorite dance of all time!)

    When my mom passed away I was absolutely shocked, like you, to realize there was a lot of good stuff in my past with her, too. From the time I was a teenager I felt like my mom didn’t like me, never had. So imagine my total discombobulation when, while going through things to make a memory board for her funeral, I found all these pictures of her with me. She was laughing and smiling while she held me. It totally did me in. Another thing that came to the surface during grief counseling. We don’t realize, I’m finding, that when we totally black out the bad stuff (or induce amnesia, as you said), we lose all the good stuff, too. I’ve been telling Arn that for years. His dad was an alcoholic, and he has NO good memories of his childhood, but every once in a while he’ll talk about one. I keep telling him he has them buried.

    You said: “Maybe the dancers I watch on the television, exploding with vibrant movement and freedom are using all of their emotions to create their moments. Maybe they too have darkness in their paths, but they are flying right now, tipping their wings toward the sun.” THAT is exactly what I was getting at in my blog post the other day. I so covet that gift they have of being able to externalize all their emotions, good and bad. Yeah, it may be painful for you to go through that box, but it also may be time. I’ll be curious to see how you feel afterwards. I hope you make notes or something as you go through it so you can post about it or do a podcast about it. I’ll be interesting to see if it affects your food issues.

    Reply
    1. Laurie@CompulsiveOvereatingDiary Post author

      We don’t realize, I’m finding, that when we totally black out the bad stuff (or induce amnesia, as you said), we lose all the good stuff, too. I’ve been telling Arn that for years. His dad was an alcoholic, and he has NO good memories of his childhood, but every once in a while he’ll talk about one. I keep telling him he has them buried.

      I’m finding that I have this too. I am so angry about things from my past that I could not allow myself to think on the good things. It made me too sad that my growing up and young adult years were so screwy. I still struggle with the whole “Why me?” feeling about things that happened. I’m trying to focus now on the good things and to forgive the rest, because the anger only hurts me.

      On a lighter note, I’m REALLY enjoying SYTYCD. 🙂

      Reply
      1. Cheryl

        Just wait till you see the Las Vegas callbacks (SYTYCD) and then get into the competition. You’ll love it. I am so amazed at how emotional some pieces can make me…

        Reply
  2. Sue

    Oh wow. What an emotive post. I’ve been trying to deal with stuff from my childhood for two years now. It is so hard. I’m glad I faced it, though, and now have tools to deal with other painful things that are brought to mind.

    My musical participation really hits one of the raw nerves and eventually i will believe I can do it, maybe not brilliantly, but good enough to enjoy it and be an asset to a choir or orchestra.

    That dancing idea of yours sounds like the sort of thing that you and Mark can enjoy together whilst slaying those memory “giants”.

    Reply
    1. Laurie@CompulsiveOvereatingDiary Post author

      I’m so hoping Sue, that you will gain more and more pleasure from your music. I’m looking forward to my lessons. I am having to wait however, until Mark gets his Social Security pension in a few months. We are having to budget pretty tightly at the moment. The joy of early retirement! Overall though, I’m pretty darn happy. I’m glad I’m going back to therapy to help me deal with the past. As you say, it also impacts the future. So tools to deal with that should also help me deal with life in general. Hugs. And thanks again, for your support and friendship. xoxoxo

      Reply

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