Dance saved me, but in a very unconventional way.

It held up a mirror for me and reflected back unhealed parts of myself.

It revealed how much I truly hated myself and unworthy I felt. It showed me how I betrayed myself by people-pleasing and over-giving to gain the validation of others. It showed me I was desperate to be accepted and loved. It showed me how catty and mean I became towards others when I felt insecure, hurt, or threatened. It even revealed to me how afraid I was to tap into my own creativity and unique movement to “stay in community,” and avoid threatening people’s ego and losing friendships.

Shit…it showed me my ego too! That feeling that I was better than others… I put the blame and shame on everyone else but myself.  I thought… It wasn’t my fault, it was the dance community, instructors, dancers, lack of who knows what. You name it, I said it. I talked a lot of shit.

When I realized this, it was painful. I wanted to deny it, but once you know, you know. So, I chose to lean in and get curious. This is not who I wanted to be and it also violated my core values. As I unraveled more, I realized these wounds ran deep and leaked over to my personal and working relationships.

They showed up in everything I did, including my movement and freedom of self-expression.

See, none of this had to do with dance. My self-hate started when I was a child. I remember the first time I felt ugly for being black. I was 5 years old. I hated my skin and hair. I even avoided eating wheat bread or being in the sun for too long so I wouldn’t get darker.

My sense of unworthiness came from my dad abandoning us before my twin brother and I were even born and the indirect and direct messages I received from outside sources that I wasn’t good enough.

My destructive ways of relating to myself and others were learned as a child as a means of survival; as a way to love and be loved. But, the truth is, I have always been worthy of love, joy, and abundance.

I knew this when I was born until society came in and convinced me otherwise.

So, I started reclaiming myself through dance. I used every opportunity to practice self-love and self-compassion. I paid attention to my reactions in every situation to become aware of my emotions, my needs and desires, and overall honor myself.

I applied therapeutic strategies to retrain my brain.

Over time, I became more conscious about my thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. My insecurities and dark moments still show up in other areas of my life, but I pivot faster and choose love.

I have the tools to get grounded and engage in behaviors that serve me. I choose healthier relationships and reach out for support when I need it.

This is why I am so grateful for dance. It guided me back home to my soul, spirit, and truth. I am loved, I am worthy, and everything I need is within me.