I talked a lot about last class feels with a variety of people: a friend taking the class with me, Ann, H, my mom. Really anyone would listen. I had a lot to process, and I also had the added burden of not wanting to make anyone feel like they failed me. No one did fail me! But I have to learn to wrestle with the things that trapeze brings up for me. Nothing comes without baggage I think, and anything involving my body is going to make me process a lot.
Thus in that spirit, let me begin with: I LOVE TRAPEZE. I really do. The few weeks I've been doing it have been life changing. It's centered me. It helps with my body image and most times it helps my mental state. But all that doesn't mean I'm not going to struggle with the hard stuff not just the physical but the emotional. I made up my mind when I started this series that I would be above all things utterly honest about the experience.
Here's where I struggled last week:
I hate being the fattest girl in the class. Note that I don't hate being fat. I just hate being the only one. My classmates are for the most part supportive and if nothing else the ones who might not be just don't say anything. Still it's hard to not feel like my struggles are because I'm fat or to think that others are not thinking this as well. It's likely paranoia on my part but it's a paranoia that comes from real experiences: not just mine but from many other fat people who love to exercise. Comments that some might think come from a supportive place often feel condescending when you're overweight.
Amazingly I've not felt this from the teachers which is big and what keeps me coming back.
And all that leads to the biggest struggle: insecurity. It's not just in terms of my body but in terms of my writing, my parenting, etc. Low self-esteem is a bitch and it sucks up a lot of energy. I feel as if I spend much of my day working myself up to do things. Sometimes it's little things like getting dressed and going out in public (what are people going to think? will I be the fat friend?). Other times it's bigger things like sending out a query letter or..taking a trapeze class.
This is important I promise.
While getting my hair cut, my awesome stylist, friend, and fellow writer told me about how she meet a woman who feels competitive with all other women she meets (no names were exchanged). I said almost offhandedly, "I think that feeling competitive comes from insecurity." Ahhh.
I talked this out with H over coffee.
"Do you feel competitive during trapeze?" he asked me.
I had to think about it. "Yeah I do. I don't want to but I hate being the only one who can't do things." And last class unlike the other classes I found myself looking at the other students. I compared myself to them and found myself lacking. I had not done that before.
"Do you want to feel competitive?" H asked me next.
And just like that an epiphany. There should have been lights and angel music. My insecurity is what is driving me to feel like I have do what everyone is doing and do it as well. It so overshadowed my experience that I couldn't think of anything else. I couldn't think of my successes because I was so busy focusing on everyone else's successes. When I talked to H, I could think of a lot of things I did better than in my first class. I got up on the bar to standing in only two tries instead of the five it took during my second class. I did Skater without my hands on the robe even if only for a few terrifying seconds. I did get up on a waist high bar, and with help I did get up in the underbar way. Pretty impressive when you think about it.
I've always loved how my girls don't see trapeze as competition. They only push to make themselves better. Not better than anyone else just better. And that is what I want for myself. I don't need to compete against any thing but my last class. As long as I'm working toward being better that is enough because I'm not doing this to perform or to be a top student. For once I'm doing something where the only thing I want from it is the pleasure of doing the thing. There's no job waiting for me at the end. No report card. It's just something I can do because I love it.
Insecurity is a real bitch and we're trained from early on to feed it with competition. We're encouraged to be the best in school. We have to get into the best colleges and find ourselves making excuses when we don't get into those schools. As women we're supposed to compare ourselves against other woman in terms of beauty, thinness, how much we juggle, how we parent, and so on. It's no wonder so many women don't like being friends with other women.
Ann asked me on Saturday if I would feel more comfortable with two tracks, one for those who need more modifications and those who don't. My gut reaction was "Yes oh yes" but then I felt a pang. Would I have to leave my class to do this? Because I realized in that moment I didn't want to leave them. I don't want to hold them back either. I've come to feel like these seven other woman embarking on this journey with me.
"Part of me would love it," I told Ann, "But another part of me doesn't want to leave my group. They're so encouraging and we all cheer each other on."
Ann nodded "Yes," she said, "That's the sisterhood."