I Don’t Belong To Me

Well, hmmm. I always feel awkward writing the first post after a hiatus. What a blogger I am, right? Life progresses at warp speed. I run from hell to breakfast, and go long periods without posting then…BOOM…here I am. Sorry about that. Believe me. My mind is CONSUMED with thoughts, and I think of writing pretty much every hour of every day. I want to be better at it (both at writing itself and actually getting around to it).

But I’ve been on the struggle bus. I am actually a weary passenger on the bedraggled bus of misery right this minute. I don’t tell you this to make excuses for having not posted, and I certainly don’t tell you this as a sympathy pitch. I tell you, because it’s real. I am real. And I feel like that has gotten lost.


You know, it’s funny. I’m a dance teacher. Big freaking deal, right? I’m not a heart surgeon trying to keep someone alive. I’m not rescuing trafficked children from the clutches of evil. I’m not an undercover drug cop risking my life to get meth off the streets. I teach dance. I sell tap shoes. I produce shows on a stage in a theater in small-town Mississippi. No danger. No threats. I work in air conditioning. I get to wear spandex. I hug children. Cushy job.

But I am lost. I am tired. My identity has been blurred. My brain, as I say to the children I teach, has turned into mashed potatoes. I have cried a lot. I mean, I do cry a lot. I am not well.

Why? I don’t belong to myself. I stopped. It stopped. Through the sequins and the rehearsals and the props, I became a commodity. A product. A means to an end. I stopped being a real person, I think, to myself and to a lot of people.

I gave so much of myself to the studio, the children, the parents, the stage. I ate, breathed, and slept all things dance performance – costumes, fees, line-ups, the set, tickets, security, music, lighting. I became the answerer of all questions, the solver of all problems, the creator of all magic, the fairy godmother of dreams, the master of ceremonies, the idea generator, the crisis manager, the fire putter-outer.

And on the regular?

I am perpetually the one with purple hair and assorted tennis shoes. I am the “dance lady” at the grocery store. The parking guy at the rodeo asks if I’m the one who teaches dance. I receive daily dance memes in all my social media inboxes almost daily. I get dance-related questions at all hours via email. I am told I “look funny” when I’m not wearing black leggings. I am dance. I am the studio.

I am looked to for all the answers. Immediately. I am expected to accommodate schedules. I am held responsible for forcing anybody to (or preventing anybody from) having to make tough decisions when conflicts arise. My mistakes are not only noticed, they are pointed out emphatically and with little grace. An error I fail to catch might make a child cry or become the next topic up for discussion on public social media pages. My policies are questioned. Technology and software systems can not fail. Mishandling a transaction can cost me business. I am praised for a good experience year after year, then abruptly bid adieu when cheerleading becomes the desire du jour. People make a face when I tell them we are not having classes, camps, or intensives right now.

That’s my business. I am the business.

But I’m not.

I’m a person. A real person. I have a husband who is my best friend, and we are just working to make it like everyone else. I pay bills and wear socks out of the dryer. I have a son and a daughter who are each full of delight and wrought with challenges. I like to read and travel. I like to eat. Hell, I like to fish. I get sad and mad and frustrated. I screw stuff up and forget things. I need sleep and hugs and laughter. I want friends and wine and charcuterie boards. I throw a mean frisbee. I’m good at board games and Jeopardy and crossword puzzles. I have a dog, two cats, and a horse. I get sick, have migraines, wrestle with anxiety/OCD and ADHD, all of which are super fun to deal with. I like to kiss and snuggle and hold hands. I like make-up and eyelashes. I don’t eat meat anymore, and I’m on a quest to not look all cripped up like Fred Sanford when I get out of a chair and walk across the room. I’ve lost 23 lbs, and I’m still fat, but I’m trying.

So that’s it. I looked up last week and realized that I don’t belong to me. I stopped. I became the property, the go-to, the work horse, the doer, for everyone else. It’s why I am so mentally and emotionally exhausted. It’s why I cry 3 times a day and can’t get myself in check. It’s why I only want to sleep. It’s why I’m bitter…really bitter…and sad…and having a hard time celebrating my own success.

Yeah, so after not posting for an eternity, there it is. You want real? Here you have the hot mess wreck of a 46 year old who doesn’t really have her shit together right now and is just trying to figure it all out…and thankfully I just may be on to something which will help me get some perspective, fight the feels, and get back on track.

I will rest. I will get back into my Bible (HUGE!). I will hermit in my house and avoid people-y places. I will ignore emails and social media as long as I can. I will blame nobody but myself and work harder to not get lost like this again. I will focus on gratitude and all the good things and supportive, wonderful people around me. I don’t want to dance right now. I want Keith and my kids. I want soup. I want a blanket. I will focus on those things only.

Y’all do the same. DO NOT get lost. DO NOT become a commodity. DO NOT assume sole responsibility for others’ happiness and success (and for the happiness and success of others’ children, for God’s sake). Don’t be a me and stop belonging to yourself. Protect you. I am learning to protect me. I let it get out of hand…and that’s taking some major recovery. I need time, and I just pray that world’s merry-go-round will let me off for a bit so I can stop spinning and regroup.

I don’t think I will convince the world that I’m a real person, so I need to figure out how to preserve myself unapologetically on my own. If you need me that’s where I will be. On second thought, please don’t need me…for a little while. I need myself. I want her back. I love her.

Published by Amanda Herring, Writer

Practical wisdom, joys and pains, motivation and tough love, from the perspective of a Mississippi mom, traveler, business owner, goal crusher, substance seeker, and full-time dreamer

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