So my story is starting with Adele. I’m sat here having just watched the rolling in the deep by Adele video. It always makes me stop. I love it. I love the song, I love the way the china smashes on the beat, the vibrating water glasses. It’s awesome. But it makes me cry inside, and I can’t switch it off or walk away. I am frozen and I have to watch the whole thing, even though it opens the cracks inside of me.
It’s the dancer. The dancer with her stick and the flour (or whatever powder it is!) I don’t know why this dancer has this affect on me, I watch other dance and I feel. But this one stops me and my heart every time.
It’s the what ifs. It’s the memories it brings. It’s the anger, that will and has faded but I know will never completely leave.
I trained as a dancer. I’d had to fight for this, I’d always loved my dancing. I didn’t get on well with my dance teacher when I got half decent, she wouldn’t do the exams I needed to do, we went the other non professional exam routes because her favorite wanted that. I should have switched schools, but didn’t have the confidence. This teacher drained my confidence, but I still loved it. I did dance at A-level, my dance teacher at school was the only reason I got any A-levels at all! My parents didn’t want me to do only arty subjects. I had an amazing career advisor who told me I was an idiot for not auditioning to dance schools at the end of year 12. I was! But I did it the next year and got into a fantastic school. It didn’t work so well, I was a round peg in a square hole. Again more confidence lost. I auditioned to other schools the next year and moved to another city to attend another school. A much much better fit. I’d lost so much confidence by this point my self esteem was a daily battle, it held me back and I thought I was rubbish, when in fact I was not! I toyed with the idea of leaving every year, because of my self esteem, but deep down always knew I wouldn’t.
The thing is, I didn’t complete my training, not far off it, but still I never finished. I had to drop out. I fully intended to go back and finish a year behind. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t heal fast enough.
Why? Why couldn’t I go back to finish something I loved?
I was raped.
I was drugged by someone I had no reason to distrust, and I was raped. I don’t remember most of it. I remember walking and everything becoming intensely more colourful, before the drugs rendered me completely physically useless I was pretty much mentally out of it, I felt beyond confused, I couldn’t make sense of what was happening, I couldn’t work out what to do or how to respond. He had got my top off, he was going to town on my breasts, it felt nice, I’m embarrassed to say that, but my body responded and it was pleasant. But I didn’t want it. My brain wasn’t working, it couldn’t cope. My memory from here is just flashes between the blackness of unconsciousness. His body heavy on top of me, I was unable to move, ironically at this point my mind was clear enough to want to push him off and tell him to go away, to fight, but my body and mouth no longer worked. Blackness. Being held flat on the bed, a forearm pinning me across my chest. Blackness. His silhouette crouching on the bottom of my bed. Blackness. Why he felt the need to pin me down I don’t know, I couldn’t move, I couldn’t fight.
I woke up with him still in bed with me. I had no idea what had fully happened, had he actually had sex with me? Why was he still here? Was I just too drunk? I must have been, that’s why I blacked out. I must have flirted too much and given him the wrong idea. Oh god this is all my fault. I managed to get him to leave. When I moved my chest hurt so so much – the horrific bruises would soon come out, my vagina was sore – so yep something had gone up there. After he left, I lay in bed shocked and feeling dirty. I showered, the longest shower I’ll ever have in my life, I’m surprised I didn’t blow the fuse I was in there so long. I washed my sheets. I tidied my room. I tried to get on with life.
Being raped left me blaming myself and doubting what actually happened. I overcame the doubt within a couple of months, there was enough evidence to show me what had happened. The blame stayed with me for years, I was too flirty, I dressed to provocatively, it was my fault. It was his right to fuck me. I became really very promiscuous. I’d always been a flirt, I couldn’t help it, it’s natural. But I started having liaisons I wouldn’t have dreamed of before. Always men, I needed to be in control of the situation. I had to start the sex rolling, then I would be in control and I wouldn’t be used. I was almost repeating the ‘experience’ to try to change it. But I also believed it was a mans right to have sex with me, so I have to do it. It affected my dancing in the opposite way, I couldn’t cope with people touching me. Especially during improvisation. I had no control. This was not good, watch dance, it’s a lot of contact!
Maybe I would have gotten over this. Maybe not.
Throw in my undiagnosed bipolar and a miscarriage a few months later (not from the rape) and I fell to pieces.
I couldn’t dance. My body was my chosen career and my art form. My body had been betrayed and had betrayed me. My brain couldn’t connect with my body. I wasn’t there. I wasn’t in my body any more.
I dropped out, intending to go and get help to heal, and I’d be back next year.
I got diagnosed as bipolar. I saw a therapist. I didn’t heal enough.
I went back and auditioned to get in to the year below me. I got in. But I couldn’t go back. I wanted to. But I still wasn’t in my body. I’m still not. I still cannot connect like I used to. I have just started going to ballet classes again. I can’t do contemporary, I think that might break me too much. I need to start yoga or something to try and achieve the mind body connection again. It was something that was always so natural to me and it’s been severed. I’ll admit my life is weird without it, but possibly less painful.
It’s an ongoing long term healing process. I’m finding my identity without dance. I have a new career I love. I’m working towards getting my mind and body connection back. My warped view on men’s rights to my body has changed and is still improving.
I do know that I wouldn’t be sitting here, with my husband and daughter upstairs, another baby in my belly and 2 dogs at my feet if that terrible night hadn’t happened.
I love my family. But I miss my passion. I miss being good at something (even though I thought I was shit!). I miss being able to dance effortlessly and I miss being a dancer.
So this is what that music video brings me. Every time I see it. It makes me wonder where I’d be if I’d never met that man. If I’d still be dancing, what my life would be like now if he hadn’t stole my world in one night.