Something I Forgot

August 8, 2009

Before I left the city for a yoga retreat a couple weeks ago, I did what I do best: I updated my Facebook status. I generally don’t think of my updates as deeply prophetic in any way; I assume those who read them would agree.  But it struck me later on that day that my subconscious may have declared my fate on the ubiquitous social networking site.

“Looking forward to getting on vacation and discovering what I forgot.”

Innocuously enough, I intended to mean the items I neglected to bring in my shit-storm of packing that morning. Once the double meaning occurred to me, however, it gave me chills. And immediately after reading my weekend schedule upon arrival I knew to what the prescience referred: 12:00-1:00 Saturday: YogaDance.

I had a sad realization a few weekends ago at a party in my neighborhood – without alcohol, I seemed to have forgotten how to dance. Dancing at parties was an enormous part of my life in high school and college.  As a former drummer (ok, until I was 13), I love rhythm, I love moving with rhythm, and I love that feeling of releasing to an experience, at least when I can capture it.

Now, I should note, I didn’t drink in high school or most of my freshman year in college – a time when I was spending two to three nights a week dancing at the campus bar/club.  But as soon as alcohol became a major force in my social life, I think dance became neurally cemented to it.  Emerging from the distilling vat in 2009, out on the dance floor with my buzzed friends at this party, it seemed my ability to move my body without debilitating self consciousness was beyond me.  So when I read the description of YogaDance, and had it described to me as “all about letting it all go and just moving,” I felt a shudder of dread go through me: that was the last thing I wanted to do, and I knew I had to do it.

So I went.

At first it was terrifying; I cried a little, I felt completely awkward for about 5 minutes, but eventually I remembered things I had forgotten.  I forgot I’m a great dancer, both trained and untrained.  I forgot that maintaining balance while dancing is much easier sober.  I forgot, no one else really gives a shit what you look like, and if they really do, they probably have plenty of their own suffering to deal with.

In general, these forgotten parts of  my personality bring up the reason drinking became such a facet in my life in the first place: to shut off that voice that tells me over and over again that I’m not good enough, not doing enough, look ridiculous, and judges, judges, judges.  Freud called it a SuperEgo, recently I heard it referred to as The Peanut Gallery, The Board of Directors, or, my new personal favorite, the Itty Bitty Shitty Committee.  By drinking, that voice is silenced temporarily.  Unfortunately, I’ve found whenever it wakes up, it wakes up with more vigor.  The real work that I’m attempting now is to foster a relationship with the Committee, and let it be what it is without letting it control me.  Reminding my body how it can move to music without judging itself was a big step in that process.

Issues of body, movement and self-judgment beg a much more frightening question, though: when the time comes to have an intimate, physical relationship with someone completely sober for the first time, what blocks am I going to face?  I have to say, though it’d be really nice to get laid one of these days (I’m coming up on a year now…) I’m pretty petrified of the impending experience…


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