Ballet with a Broken Heart

I have found ballet gives me happiness, a high, the ‘ballet high’. I’ve done ballet when I’m happy, indifferent, just alright, and even when I’m sad and I need a distraction.

Ballet wins at everything.

Everything but heartbreak.

It’s seven weeks tomorrow since those first words were told. As the world started to fall from beneath me, and this new feeling I’ve never felt before entered my being, all interest in anything stopped. I was preoccupied with complete confusion, sadness and pain. My mind couldn’t even concentrate on fifteen minutes of TV. I had no interest in any interest. I would just sit and stare and inside my thoughts would be going around in circles trying to make sense of something that doesn’t make sense. Anybody that was with me would be dragged into those circles too, in the hope they would have magic answers for me.

Four the first four weeks I literally did nothing but think. I thought my head would explode a few times, there were no distractions for this. Over the last two and a little weeks I’ve been able to start taking interest in the little things I like.

But up until tonight I have not been able to go to ballet class.

During the first week the thought that kept crossing my mind, because I thought everything would be resolved and we could work it out, was that because I was unable to eat anything that I would really struggle getting en pointe at my next class. I know how much strength you need, and ballerinas need to eat.

As that week became another, and another, and another and more, I started to lose my flexibility. My mum did keep encouraging me to stretch but I couldn’t. I couldn’t focus on anything. So as the weeks went by all that hard work and effort that I put into improving myself as a dancer just started to disappear. The longer I took to get back to class, the more difficult I knew it would be.

But how can you find enjoyment in one of your biggest loves when you have no happiness in your heart.

I went back to class tonight. It exactly seven weeks since my last class. I have not stretched, worked on my core, even done any simple relevés while the kettle has been boiling. I have lost flexibility and my ballet muscles are no longer defined like they were.

Going back to ballet has been one of the more difficult things to face despite having the most wonderful support from all of my fellow ballerinas. And when I was sat in the studio stretching before class, my teacher was so pleased to see me that she walked over and gave me a huge hug.

There were times on the walk to class this evening that I could have just burst into tears from feeling so angry and still hurt. This is a different kind of grief.

I was so concerned about pulling or tearing a muscle this evening. I did spend a good 20 minutes stretching after getting changed and concentrated on my right inner thigh. It’s been threatening at a tear since I attempted a little stretch the other night. I just kept foreseeing a tear during some grand battements.

Pointe class… Well the toes didn’t hurt, but the foot cramps were instant. So relevés woke and exhausted my legs all at the same time. I did not realise the strength that I had until it had gone. In balancing in attitude at the barre, it felt like I did not have any muscles whatsoever. My body remembered how to place itself for a balance but it was such an effort to retain it, as though there was nothing, not an ounce of strength in the muscles all the way down to my feet.

It really shocked me how much strength I needed to dance en pointe and how it had disappeared so quickly. My legs were jelly by the end of the 30 minutes of pointe class. I’m just glad there were no pirouettes.

Regular ballet class… Never have I been so glad for grand pliés. The slow stretches through the hips and inner thighs just felt amazing and it was like my exhausted, stiff and heartbroken body was starting to loosen up again.

I was also glad for a very long rond de jambe exercise too, with a lot of port de bras. The discomfort that comes in ballet felt quite comforting and very much needed. My hamstrings loosened up throughout, my inner right thigh felt better as the class went on but it was the hips that felt as though they have regressed the most. They felt so stiff during fondu, my extensions felt heavy in the hip and very low compared to what they were seven weeks ago.

When it came to pirouettes I was frantically trying to remember all those corrections and progress that I had made just before all the heartbreak. I felt as though I was really starting to do well around then. My body did remember how to turn and pirouette, it felt good to be dancing again but all that strength and progress seems to have disappeared so quickly. I really am shocked at my loss of strength.

Despite this, I’m very glad to be back dancing, it just feels so strange when my heart is still so unhappy. It did provide a distraction and there were moments when I just ‘enjoyed’ dancing again, but at the same time I did drift off thinking about everything else a few times.

It was to go back now or never. I will admit that there had been a couple of moments today when I thought about backing out for another week. But the worst part is the first part, the facing up to it for the first time, confronting it.

Confronting it, ‘confrontation’ is something that played a big part in the reason he never addressed any issues with me. Confrontation comes in many different forms. Confrontation is life.

It’s easier to hide. And it would have been easier to make excuses about not going back to class. But if I’d hidden for too long, it would have been too late and I would have lost a big part of my life.

Is there not a pattern, or a lesson here, emerging?

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