What a weekend?!?! Only now, after so much work and so many emotions and finally some rest, can I look back at all of this and say that I am so grateful for all of it. I’m sure I freaked out similarly last year, but I have situational amnesia. Ha-ha! Somehow this year just felt very different. Tigress and I have been through so much. We have leaned on one another and have stood back and looked at the world we live in and just shook our damned heads.
I watched as she went through some very public drama and I’m still in awe of how she handled it all. I don’t believe that I would have been strong enough to be so graceful under fire, but she’d say she couldn’t have done it without her community, family and friends. I don’t want you to think that I don’t have that myself, but this year more than ever I have felt completely on my own. I didn’t feel supported, except by her and my fella and my bff Vee. It was a difficult and trying experience, but I wouldn’t un-do what’s done, either.
Unless you’ve been in a show of some nature, you just don’t know how much work, effort, energy, time and money goes into putting on a show. And all I had to worry about was our little four minute performance. Tigress was in another number with her FFE models (it was fucking awesome) on top of ours. Not only that, but she made all of the lovely and colorful adornments for her girls to wear. I am still in awe of how it all came together for show time.
Tigress and I rehearsed in my living room, with the couches pushed into corners and rugs rolled up to reveal the hardwood floor, for two months. We laughed and cried and watched tons of 80′s & 90′s videos for inspiration and mood lifting. I would panic about not having our choreography down and she would insist, “We’re going to be fabulous!” Why can’t I ever trust in the process? My body rebelled as my mind spiraled into dark places. Towards the end my work situation grew ever more stressful. I felt broken inside and out.
Then, with a week left before the show opened, I couldn’t believe it was happening. It felt like it was happening without me somehow. Difficult to explain how that felt, like I was watching it from the outside or something. Ice packs were always on my bed and I had more headaches in the last two weeks than I have in the last two years! Through it all, Tigress kept it and me together. My boyfriend was so supportive and encouraging. A couple of my coworkers became my own personal cheerleaders and next thing you know, we were there on the stage!
Once again I found myself in that cramped dressing room with ten other women. I withdrew and became very quiet. I wasn’t just nervous, I was afraid. I felt that old familiar tap on my shoulder, depression, beckoning. I didn’t have the strength to fight it on my own. I didn’t even have time to seek out a substance to help. I just sort of muddled through. Opening night, during our performance, I went the wrong way on-stage, twice! The moment we left the stage I said to Tigress, “I’m so sorry!” I felt like the biggest failure. “No one knows!” she insisted, but memories of last year’s No Lose performance and bullying all came rushing back to me. I had an emotional meltdown in the dressing room.
The only thing that kept me from a full-on panic attack was Tigress and the models of FFE. They were so kind and comforting. They helped me breathe and put fans on me when my throat closed up and the tears poured down my face like a waterfall. I was so near the brink it’s nowhere near funny. I beat myself up pretty damned bad that night. After the show when we all went out to the lobby, I was hoping to see those familiar faces that had supported me before. Instead my two personal cheerleaders from work were there, all smiles and hugs, to greet me.
This may sound selfish and rude and whatever, but the truth is (and I do my best to never lie) I was hoping and wishing that some of my friends might show up to support me. I thought maybe just maybe I wasn’t on my own. When my two coworkers left I felt so alone, more so than ever before. I immediately went backstage, grabbed my things and drove home sobbing the entire way. I was hurt and angry with myself. How dare I wish or hope or want people to be there for me, to show up to my show, to see me and all of the work I put into it. Why? What the fuck for? I was brutal to myself. I left a Vox message for Vee (we always vent to each other) and she was so kind to me I was humbled.
By the time I got home I was deflated and in so much pain, I grabbed my ice packs and went straight to bed. I’d only eaten one meal that day, at noon, I didn’t get home until 11:30 pm. I secretly found yet another way to punish myself. I felt so low I was nearly numb. When I woke up the next day I felt more pressure than ever! I nearly text my guy to insist he not come, but I knew he would anyway. My best friend text to encourage me even though she was stuck out of town with a canceled flight. Another friend who was sick wished me well and said they wished they could be there.
My head was a mess. My body ached and everything hurt. On top of it all my eyelids were red and swollen. I’ve been struggling with them for weeks and putting make up on them for the show the night before made it all so much worse. I took a hot shower, followed by an ice pack for thirty minutes, hoping they would improve, I wasn’t so lucky. I tried to apply my eyeliner and shadow and mascara, but I looked like I was beaten up by an alligator (the texture of my lids by that point). I got dressed and headed to the show.
I went through our choreography a thousand times in my head. When I got to the dressing room I merely sat down and shut up. People were concerned, but I insisted I was just tired. Some of the gals had gone out partying the previous night and many assumed I had as well. Nope, just me and those ice packs, with my puggyman asleep between my feet. I started to hate myself and question what it was all for. Why put so much into something no one gives a flying fuck about (or so I felt in that moment). Then Tigress said, “He’s here!” and I said, “What? Who?” and she said, “Your man!” and smiled. That’s when I became nervous. This was real and it was happening whether I hated myself or not.
I remained silent and focused and ran through our moves in my head, over and over, it had to go better today! As our music began I just let go of everything. I took a deep breath and stepped out on the stage. Without my glasses I couldn’t see Tigress on the other side but took for granted that she was there until she came into view. Then it all came together and it was fantastic! I was reminded of how good we were together and why we do this to begin with.
Backstage I ran into a girl who was in the FFE number last year. I remembered how nervous she was in the dressing room before the show. She wasn’t confident and felt that she didn’t fit in. This year she was part of EmFATic Dance and danced in four or five numbers! It was inspiring to see how she grew and changed and pushed herself so hard to be there. When I saw her after the show I thanked her and hugged her and tried not to cry. When we had the last curtain call and she came out I screamed my head off cheering for her. She learned all of those numbers and shared her struggle on her facebook page, all the while she’s a mom and a teacher! And here I was having a pity party the night before for fucking up a couple of moves. D’oh!
After the show when I climbed those stairs again up to the lobby there was only one face waiting for me, but it might as well have been a thousand. My guy was there beaming and so proud of me. He said I was fantastic and gave me the biggest hug! And then he gave Tigress a hug and she took our picture. It was the perfect ending to a difficult weekend and week. I found myself starting to question it all again and snapped myself out of it.
It is for my fat community that I do it. It is for myself that I push myself out of my comfort zone, even when it scares the hell out of me. It’s not an easy feat for a 325 pound, 36 year old woman to get out there and do what I do. I forgot to be kind to myself through this process. This was the biggest difference between this year and last. Last year I’d just been laid off! I had time to heal and process. This year I was stressed to the max from everything.
If I can reach one person by doing these things that scare me and push me to my limits, then I call that a success! In the end I am alone and no one can be there for me in those wee hours of the night when I am left to my own thoughts and emotions. I am choosing to see this realization as a good thing. I’m far from full of myself, but I am one of the most loyal people I know (even when it’s not right for me to be). I know some of my friends wanted to be there for me but couldn’t. To those who came to this show, for me or not, I am grateful for the support of something that means so much to me. Big Moves and their annual show have been such a light in my life and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.
I encourage you all to step outside of your comfort zone and see what you can learn and do. You will be endlessly amazed…I promise!
P.S. The photo above is amazing! It is of Tigress and I mid-kick. I don’t know how they got this shot but it’s great! I had no idea how lined up we looked from the audience!