Reclaiming a Feeling
A few months ago, I was in the car alone when the song ‘Flashdance (What a Feeling)’ by Irene Cara came on the radio. I didn’t change the station like I always had done before when the song came on because I was in heavy traffic. But I’m grateful for that traffic because for the first time in close to thirty-six years, the song put a smile on my face. So when I got back home I put it on again, listened to the lyrics a bit more closely, and bawled my brains out in my kitchen over a plate of breakfast tacos.
Why the tears?
Well, there’s a line in the song about crying all alone silent tears full of pride. And that made me break down because I’ve done that since I was a little girl, before that song came out even. But that day in the kitchen those tears began a healing process that has me looking back at my younger self with love and kindness.
The reason I grew to hate that song and never wanted to hear it again was because I heard it five days a week for an entire school year in gym class the year it came out. Every day we started class with exercises done to that song and I was always at the back of the class trying to keep up. And I could never keep up or do anything right physically because I was an overweight girl with terrible balance and coordination. I would always drop something, trip and fall, and get picked last for any team.
So you can imagine my childhood had some pretty miserable times. What saved me from drowning in that misery was my imagination. I have always had a vivid imagination and have spent a lot of time in my imaginary world. I used to think that was a bad thing but looking back I see now it was a matter of survival. Because I have never fit in anywhere and was made to realize that from as far back as I can remember.
For the longest time, there was a part of me that felt like I was at fault for not fitting in. That I could have been less klutzy, learned how to talk to people, or just somehow found a way to fit in. But for some reason, the Universe deemed me to be someone who wouldn’t be like most everyone else. I’m fine with that now and I see that being the odd one out didn’t make me a bad person. And as for all the bullies and assholes back then both child and adult, I’ve left them behind.
Leaving someone or something behind is my form for forgiveness. It’s saying I’m not staying back in the past and I’m not going to let my past define me. I’m not going to think any good I do is wiped out whenever I make a mistake or have a klutzy moment. Because I’ve come to realize no one has all the answers and if they say they do they’re full of shit.
When I talk about reclaiming my past I mean I’ve begun to think like the little girl I used to be. Because back then I didn’t look in the mirror and see a fat, shy, and klutzy kid. I saw a girl who could smile, sing, and dance without fear of failure. I saw a girl who found the courage to stand up and speak even if it meant risking failure, ridicule, or ostracization. I like the fact that she was stubborn and proud, but would have apologized all over herself if told that.
What I like about my younger self was that she wasn’t hard and cynical. She hadn’t let the world grind her down yet and she did that by knowing deep down she wasn’t a bad person. Granted, as a little girl I spent a lot of time in my imaginary world but it was time well-spent because I think it was my way of surviving the bad things. Because when I’ve gotten away from that imaginary world I get hard and cynical.
The feelings I’ve reclaimed from my past are a sense of wonder, of imagination, and of joy in the simplest of things. It’s a feeling of knowing I’m not perfect, but that I’m not a bad person either. And it’s an acceptance that I’m not destined to fit in anywhere, something I’m feeling much better about than I ever have before.
My silence wasn’t a bad thing. It was a way of surviving sometimes. But it was also a way for me to find my own voice, even if it was inside my head most of the time. And though I’ll never really sing or dance very well (my vocal chords have been trashed by my all my years of chronic allergies and being on the phones, and I can’t dance very well because due to my scoliosis I really am off-balance). But that’s alright because my world hasn’t ended because I can’t sing or dance very well.
Like back then, I know life will go on. And I can decide how I want to go on with it. One thing I want to go on with is looking at myself and thinking that at least in my own imagination, I can sing and dance.