Dec 31, 2021 we heard the news about Betty White's passing. What devastating news with which to end the year! My sister and I decided to honour her that night by watching the Netflix documentary on her life. Such an icon and such a life. The film crew captured a moment in her later years that will forever stay with me. Betty White was backstage preparing to go on and she was having what I can only call a moment of anxiety. To be honest maybe even a panic attack. As we watched, her young assistant talked her down from the ledge as we sometimes say. This woman had over 70 years in show business yet still had moments of uncertainty. What a revelation! As strange as it sounds seeing this brought me such peace. I will explain why as I share the truth behind this picture.
I have shared this picture because I love how this costume turned out and I love how I look in this moment. I also share it as a reminder to myself. The truth is this picture is during one of the worst rehearsals I have ever had. I was preparing for my first professional job in over 18 months, it was also a fast drum solo which I have been avoiding due to my health issues and it was a performance that was going to be filmed. There was a lot revolving around this piece. I had been wrestling with my demons on a fairly manageable scale up to this point. As we dancers know there comes a time in preparing for a performance where we must bite the bullet and do the costume and make up and hair and see if there are any problems. So this was it. All I can say is that it was a train wreck. My wristlets got caught on my fishnet, my bedlah got caught on my fishnet, I kept going blank. My carefully crafted choreography was gone out of my head. Fatigue and my health was draining me to the points my legs were not keeping up with the program. It was truly awful. I had a moment of asking myself what did I think I was doing? But then the next moment, I shrugged it off and recognized that what was required was practice, practice, practice, rest, rest, rest and have faith that my body memory would kick in. The next several weeks I practiced, then rested, then practiced again still feeling okay.
I didn't realize it at the time but that rehearsal set the stage for a truly massive battle with anxiety and my inner demons the day before the show. I had been forced to rest completely the three days before due to my health. That day I can't remember my inner dialogue but I must have looked like a madwoman talking to myself and off the ledge literally the entire Sunday the day before filming. This is where I have to thank God that I have read and listened to Brené Brown. I had to decide whether I was going to show up to the arena. I had to decide whether I was willing to risk failing. I realized that turning tail and running was not an option. I had given my word, signed a contract and one of my previous students had referred me. I would not let her down. I would not let my existing students down. I would not let myself down. This sounds so easy and pat now. Not that Sunday. An exhausting, day-long battle inside my head. I don't know that I have ever experienced nerves to this level in my entire dance life. Not even when I had full blown PTSD. Then it was different. This time I doubted my memory, my stamina, my ability.
As many of you know, I did do the performance. I feel I rocked it. Those who know me know I rarely say that. What happened? I decided I wanted to experience life and dare greatly. I decided if I was going to fail I was going to fail gloriously. My best friend was at that time fighting for her life. Nothing that I faced compared to what she was going through. I set myself up with rewards. I knew I would be seeing my friend and spending the night at her place. I did not know it would be the last. I knew I would be seeing my youngest son for more than a few minutes for the first time in a very long lockdown time. The entire drive up my mantra was, "Whatever happens, happens. I will do great! I get to see my Judy! I get to see my Aidan!"
I share this with you in case it might help some of you. I share this so that you know I understand. I share this because sometimes this is what it means to perform in any arena. I know there are some performers that do not have these battles. I do. There are huge highs and huge lows. Performing can be lonely because only you can overcome these issues. No one is coming to save you. You have to decide for yourself what hill you will die on. How much you are willing to risk. To know that an icon such as Betty White sometimes had these battles helped me.
So with this I say goodbye to 2021. It was an amazing year. It was a horrible year. It held such happiness and such sorrow. Screw you for taking my best friend. Screw you for taking Betty White. Thank you Betty for this final gift. Thank you Judy for your love, support, caring and friendship. Thank you 2021. Welcome 2022. Here we go everyone!
#anxiety # BrenéBrown #Dance4Life #BellyDanceLife