© Michelle Routhieaux 2016
© Michelle Routhieaux 2016
I am so blessed. I taught dance for the first time today in about ten years. It felt SO good. It was ME. By chance I met a little girl who wanted to dance and her mom said it’s okay. She’s about 7. I didn’t ask. I bought her some tap shoes and brought my pink duct tape. She wanted to tape her headband to her hair. Lol. Her favorite color is pink like mine and I had a blast. We jumped up and down and walked like ducks and cartwheeled and ran around and still made progress. She is so sweet. I feel like me.
I didn’t want to go today. I was so down and discouraged. And I was afraid I would get in trouble for teaching in the back of an existing class. I organized papers and sat on my bed and stared. Literally all day. I was so cold that my fingers and toes were numb. Just be. But I put myself together to go and I’m so glad I did. I had a blast and the teacher wasn’t angry but surprised and delighted to have the option of having kids learn there too. I’ve never been much one to teach kids but I can adapt.
I have my own odd way of teaching. More quirky than odd. I use shapes and movement and chairs and build things up backwards. And it works. If you stick with it. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to find myself through teaching this little girl, even if only for today. I love dancing. And dancing loves me. (sigh) I am so blessed.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2013
I know I haven’t blogged in forever. Sorry about that. My blog starts in my journal and there hasn’t been much I could put online.
I wanted to check in, let you know I’m not dead. I spent 3 weeks in the hospital trying to get my meds right. Still working on that. Not even close. Tweaking my list of diagnoses. Dealing with voices in my head, confusion, and big mood swings. Random happiness. I’m functioning more efficiently than a month ago… It’s not good.
I went to a clog convention this weekend that was a short reprieve from the madness, polka-dotted with madness. I’m so grateful for Scotty. And for learning I still can dance. Pain or not, it’s do-able. And I decided I should teach dance again and came up with this grand plan. I brainstormed all day and was so happy. And then I got home. And now none of it seems possible. I don’t understand. A friend wrote on my FB wall, “Michelle has returned from her alternate life on Planet Scotty to the real world on Planet Shit.” Exactly. It’s like detox.
My mom’s having surgery tomorrow. Instead of spending time with me she’s cleaning the house. What? She’s freaking out about it. My doctor told her I am NOT to take care of her.
(break for Mom to freak out in apology for something she didn’t do. I can’t take this. I feel like I’m gonna throw up. And I’m pissed.)
I went to my group last night. I just wanted to talk. Instead I facilitated the most intense group of my life. My stalker is back and came to my group. I also had a very manic guy. I’m really glad I had a good group there to help. I can’t do this. I am alone.
Right now I am supposed to be supportive and empathetic of my mom, productive for my choir and the group, and effective at taking care of myself. Well, I’m not. I’m angry and sad and completely NOT effective. My new med’s making me fat. And I don’t know what to do. It is simply too much.
Soooo… I stopped for a moment to pass you a note. (deep breath). Lady Gaga sings “Just Dance” behind me. You have no idea.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2011
So, I found my cassette tape player in a box I was going through today and put on my FAVORITE tape – Disco Sweatracks. Euphoria ensued. ;) I was texting a friend and sent her this. I just have to share.
I’m experiencing a series of involuntary timeless choreography complete with jazz hands, the airplane, disco fingers, the pony, swimming… even those 50s circle arms. The twist, boogie fingers, a little Richard Simmons, running man, peace fingers, Grease, the YMCA, fake ice skater, bad ballerina twirl, bad melodramatic singer… Daniel Boone searching for a coon to You Light Up My Life… Ahhhhh. Wow. That was awesome. WAY better than sex. My doctors should stop telling me to exercise and just throw on some disco.
I told her I look like a drunk 50 year old Jazzercize instructor – complete with brown yoga pants, a Solvang hoodie from the 80s, rainbow slippers and a red plastic cup of OJ. Lol.
(sigh) I have so many memories of that tape. Road trips with my mom – many a day drying my hair out the car window on the freeway to it. Palm Springs. Lots of Palm Springs memories. I taught to a song from it in Idaho. HD dance always opens with We Are Family. Made friends with the moon… (smile) Good times… Good times.
Now I know where these odd dance moves came from. They were involuntary musical reactions that stuck. ;) Man, I’m tired. :)
Dear Magical Wish-granting Fairy in the Sky,
I wish for a clogging studio, please. The one I see in my head. It’s one of those dream/wishes that’s not really possible but that I’ve been dreaming about since I was little. I’ve yet to find a genie or a shooting star or a sugar daddy or to find hidden treasure. I thought maybe you could help me out. It’s worth asking, right? So, please, if you could. Help a sister out. Thanks.
I ran into an old friend at the show tonight who told her friend I’m a great dancer, “like dance dance,” and said we should go dancing sometime. I said I’m better at choreography than freestyle, social dancing. I should’ve just said thank you, but these days dancing makes me nervous. It has me wondering who I am. I haven’t answered that question in some time.
Who am I?
I am a person who’s been here for 23 years, sometimes a girl, sometimes a woman. No, 24. I am often lonely. I am here to help others.
I am not who I used to be or who I will be in the future. Today I can’t say that I have a purpose. I am thrown around in the tide. I should let go.
I am sad. I am affected by other people, more than they could know. I am a person who is so sad that her dreams are gone and who cries at night.
I got an email announcing Rockette auditions today. The first kid in line for rush is moving to New York for the dream. My friends are making it. I’m just idling. Party cuz I’ve stopped believing, partly because it’s physically and mentally too taxing. I can’t handle it. I KNOW I wanted nothing more than to be successful in performance. It’s what makes me truly happy. It’s who I am down to my core. A person who dances to all emotions and hears music constantly, who sings and recites lines randomly, who has no idea who she is without these. It’s like Susan’s poem. Who is a dancer without the dance? I don’t know.
The show was incredible tonight and I felt happy. But that small reminder of what I am now has me fighting back tears on the trolley.
The things I hear in my head: I am nothing. You have failed. Street team? Are you kidding me? You’re a fucking joke. You may have a fancy title and a glossy business card, but you’ll never be more than a crazy person playing pretend. They’ll find out, and they’ll leave you, and you’ll have nothing. They’ll leave anyway. You, are nothing. Actor, always remember you are replaceable. I know.
No matter how much I work on loving myself, how many hours of therapy, positive affirmations, “friends” on FB… the number of hours I feel happy to be alive, I come back to the reality (my reality) that I am nothing.
Maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Me feeling helpless giving everything to God. But I can’t imagine that’s what he wanted. For the default state of His people to be suffering. I try really hard. I do good things and I help people and pray…
But I am still sick. And I am still sad. I still have no money and my family is approaching crisis. And I can’t go to the dance convention in a few weeks. And I can’t breathe. And I don’t want to be here anymore. Drama at my group, in my inbox, in the mail. Now even in the place where I go to escape. There is no escape. Don’t know why I keep running.
I don’t know who I am. I just know how I feel. Confused. Tired. Sad. My body hurts. At times I feel happy, joyous, angry, anxious, befuddled, undone. I am simply the canvas to their art.
I once was the star attraction, the main event. Now I am the crew. Cellophane. Eject please.
I thought about killing myself tonight but I don’t have the energy to recover.
Today I am sick but right now I feel happy. I am a person with unpredictable illnesses doing my best to get by and enjoy life. Yes. That’s an answer I like.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2010
I feel so overwhelmed today. The tension is so high I have to breathe through my mouth or my face just might explode. My cheek bones hurt.
I caught the early bus, the one that takes twice as long to the trolley. I can’t stand it in my house or around my mom. She drives me nuts. I don’t know when she forgot how to have fun or started believing fun is bad. But no matter what I do it’s wrong to her, makes her mad. (Our bus driver doesn’t know where she’s going.)
I knew today would be difficult because the last two were wonderful. I had two healthy days. And in those days I did a ton of stuff. I went to a ROCO meeting, toured Edgemoor, saw my neuro, ate Chinese food twice, sang at the gospel festival, went out to dinner, attended a suicide conference, got my hair cut, went to Body Rock and enjoyed The Shout House. I walked farther than I usually can. My body didn’t hurt. I lifted things, felt happy, had energy. I even took the stairs at the Civic several times. I felt normal. I felt happy.
Going to Body Rock last night was an exposure. I’ll admit I cried through the first number and wanted to leave but I’m glad that I stayed. I had a great time. I’m proud of myself. I did something new, out of my comfort zone, sat through the anxiety and enjoyed it. And I went to The Shout House and sang. It was great. I hadn’t been there since my 21st birthday. On the way home I was gifted a horrible headache that made it hard to breathe, but the night was worth it. So were the days.
I woke up today feeling calm and happy. Warm sun feels good now on my back. I feel trapped. A good friend posted on FB last night about giving up her dream. I want to help her, to listen, but I can’t if she won’t let me. I need that magic dress. Not being able to do anything hurts. My body feels heavy. I tingle. I just can’t get it out of me. If I could tell her anything it would be not to give up her dream. She might not get it back.
As I watched Body Rock I needed to dance, and having two mostly symptom-free days I let my mind wander, hope. I thought about dancing again, taking classes, performing, watching shows. All the stuff that I love. It seemed possible. Just maybe I could have that again. It didn’t escape me that 2 days is 2 days, but it felt good just to dream.
When I gave up performing I didn’t think it would be forever. I don’t mean singing in a choir. I mean being a star. I didn’t think that I couldn’t have it back. That I would see myself someday singing at the bar of The Shout House just to sing. I didn’t see that. It’s kind of like giving your child voluntarily to the foster care system and just hoping they treat it well. It will never be the same. They say going back to school is harder the longer you’re out. It’s nothing compared to losing or hiding or pausing a dream. Because the dream never goes away. It haunts me. I’m different now, but it’s still the same dream.
I keep thinking of the Rainer Maria Rilke wisdom from “Letters to a Young Poet” that if when you wake up in the morning you can think of nothing but writing then you’re a writer. Or of dancing you’re a dancer, etc. When I don’t do what I am I’m not happy. And when I’m not happy, I’m not me.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2010
I sent this to a friend today and I need to say it to myself.
“I know you are very strong to have gotten to where you are. You have calluses in the perfect places to survive the dance. But you’re still delicate enough to get blisters, still vulnerable. It’s beautiful. Keep dancing.”
© Michelle Routhieaux 2010
When I read posts from M- I feel such compassion. I don’t know just what draws me to him. I’ve never met him. I only know him through FB. I think it’s the fact that he’s genuine. (My stomach hurts.) And the volume of genuine posts. If you make me think or occupy enough of my think-time, you become a close friend, whether I know you or not.
I noticed tonight he seems to swing a lot. Mood swings that is. Extreme highs and lows. Joy and strife. I was riding with my mom thinking about this. I felt concerned and wondered if he’d ever sought help. I realized it’s not really my place to ask but also that it’s not my place to kill the dream.
I realized – I’m on the other side. If I could go back to my days of creative highs and performance and laughter and joy and strife and craziness, would I? I have given up so much in the pursuit of not happiness but stability. And what do I really have? Not stability, less happiness, I guess less strife. Less psychosis. But there is little traveling, almost no dancing, no theater. My grand ideas are mostly limited to mental health and don’t usually happen. I have no degree. I have talent but I’m not doing what I love. I’d like to go to Fresno in a few weeks for a convention but I can’t afford it, have a choir performance and Survivors of Suicide Loss Day. I’d much rather do midnight workshops and dance all day.
I didn’t know what I was signing up for when I started taking medication. I just needed to get the Hell away from what was happening. I think if I’d been accurately diagnosed things might have been different. Maybe not. I remember the first night I heard voices. It was the scariest night of my life. I’ve been through a lot of scary things, but that tops it. My psychiatrist told me it was “normal” for people with depression to hear voices and not to worry, did nothing. (deep breath…) I would not go back to my days of skinniness and days of dancing and top of the world highs if it meant taking back the voices and the visions and the feelings and everything that went with them. But I yearn for those days. If you haven’t experienced them, you can never understand. It’s why we go off our meds. To feel them. Sometimes almost anything is worth getting that back. It’s like trying to convince yourself every minute that eating only peanut butter and jelly for the rest of your life will be as full-filling as eating as much of the best food you’ve ever tasted for a month and then starving.
This bitter perspective is not quite something someone new to mental health should hear or can handle. Would you jump at that? Maybe if you are desperate or REALLY like peanut butter. But it’s something they NEED to hear. But nobody says it. Nobody says to the artist, “This pill may save your life but you won’t paint the same.” No one says to the actor, “The stage might not be your friend.” No one bothers to tell the dancer, “By the way, in six months you’ll either be too fat to dance or you’ll be fat enough that you hate yourself enough not to.” No one says that. They should. But they don’t.
So I find myself on the other side. I’ve been through creativity and performance and crazy wonderful and terrible highs. And I’ve been through years of treatment and its ups and downs and effects. And now I’m here, on the other side. I think I’ve learned all I can from programs. Therapy keeps me going because it gives me someone non-judgmental to talk to. But I usually have the answer or it’s me that has to figure it out. I’ve been on tons of meds. I’m not on many anymore. And I watch people. I watch them feel and interact. I know when something’s wrong and sometimes what. Not much surprises me. Not much other people say scares me. And I want to help. What I have been through helps, but it doesn’t not hurt. It takes from you. It’s not free. Life in entertainment may be crazy but it’s a choice. Everything is a choice. (sigh)
I wish there was a way to get “better” without losing the creativity. Without losing what makes us us. On the other side now. I can’t cross back. Not for long…
© Michelle Routhieaux 2010
I went to what used to be the gospel festival tonight. I had such an amazing time. I felt joyful and emotional. I had trouble singing through the emotion, through the energy.
I saw Kathy Meyers, a dance teacher I so greatly admire, tonight. I talked to her after and she wants her dancers to dance to the choir at the Kroc Center. There were so many memories. Memories of dance. The smell of the studio and office were overwhelming. Memories of the passion of dance. Memories of injury, and heartache, and heartbreak. I stood in the back of the quiet theater after, almost everyone gone, and remembered. Long nights at Summerstock locking up, strikes, just staring at the chairs. Then going to the back and staring at the stage. What will it be today?
I asked Kathy if she knew of an off-campus place to get dancing like hers. She said I should take a class credit/no-credit but I said I don’t want to. (sigh)
Being in a dance class makes me cry. Clogging and tap are different but full-body dance. It simply makes me sad. Because I know what it’s like to be at the top, the very top, and watch it all come crashing down. When I look at myself in a studio mirror I don’t like what I see. I hate it. I know there is beauty inside me, but I can’t seem to find it. And to try and hate myself and my body so much very quietly next to girls who have everything I wanted, or are close to it, is devastating. I can’t. Or I haven’t been able to wrap my mind around doing it again.
I can’t stop crying tonight. I can imagine myself in a studio staring at the floor. I just can’t look in the mirror. Please, God. Don’t make me look in the mirror… I don’t even own a full-length mirror.
I’ve recently lost 30lbs and I haven’t tried out dancing yet. I’m scared. And I hate being that one person that just doesn’t quite fit in – who’s not there for credit or to be a dance major, who’s not a size 2, and hates Marley floors.
I desperately want to dance but I’m scared – that I won’t be able to, and that I will. The not being able is not quite rational. I don’t believe I will ever fully lose my ability and desire to move passionately and dance. The fear that I can because I don’t want to lose that again. I am fighting with my body and I’m fighting with me. Some days I wake up and I literally can’t move. I can’t stand up through all of choir. My feet swell almost every day and I have trouble just carrying my purse. But I want to dance so desperately. And I ask myself have I lost that chance? Have I chosen one too many times not to take this class, not to do that audition? There are valid reasons why I haven’t, but is it too late?
My mom is convinced she’s done something to piss me off. I don’t think she’ll ever learn it’s not always about her and that sometimes I just want to be alone…
So I cry. And then I stop crying. And I don’t watch “So You Think You Can Dance” or go to dance shows or try taking a class. Simply put, I’m heartbroken, terrified.
I think I’ve made a pretty good life for myself, based on the circumstances. I try to create change and make a difference, to be great. But there will always be something missing without dance, a part of me that makes the other ones work just right. That piece of my soul that says it’s okay to feel and Saturday at 3 I will feel angry beautifully for 3 minutes, I will a tell a story with my body. (Long deep breath…)