Jennifer A. Chin (cswallow) wrote,
Jennifer A. Chin

Tackling Difficult Moments

It's been four and a half months since diagnoses, since October 16. My foot is finally feeling strong (enough) to dance nearly every day, more or less full on. But it hasn't gotten easier. Nationals is close. C and I are feeling pressure to make up for lost time, to play catch up with ourselves, and it begins to take its toll. I lose sight of joy.

So I go back a year and begin reading my posts from when we first started dancing together. I think in some ways, my becoming more familiar with C has made me more acerbic, too. He stops me sometimes, "you're not listening." Is it true? How fully am I embracing and applying his feedback? Have I begun to take my talented and wonderful partner for granted?

I remember before rounds last year, Vlad told us, "There's a reason you dance with the same person for a long time. It takes time to learn about each other, to know how they will react in every situation, to understand how to tackle difficult moments together." Although a year of dancing together can feel like a long time, it really isn't much at all, and what we are facing now post-injury is new territory. Sometimes lack of experience can feel a lot like lack of ability. We mustn't confuse the two.

In the field of psychology there is this idea of mindfulness, which deals with how we observe and control the way we react in the present, "the intentional, accepting and non-judgmental focus of one's attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment". Over the summer last year I deliberately practiced mindfulness, along with gratitude. Every day I made a list every day of the things I was glad I had. Dealing with my injury took away many of those things, and I became bitter about losing them. The bitterness seeped into other aspects of my life, and my work, dance, writing - all these happy passions - began to become stressful. Not only that, but my injury revealed to me my own weakness and took the air out of me. Looking at myself now from a mindful distance, I see all the signs of unraveling. My laundry constantly undone, my workspace and bedroom a mess, my schedule all over the place... I don't recognize the Jen that I most enjoy being.

But now it is March. Spring is on its way. Our National competitions are coming. It's time to stop using my injury as an excuse for the way I've been feeling and acting, as a reason for having failed myself in being the person I would rather be. My dad used to say to me after I'd been stupid, "Don't apologize, just don't do it again." I think now would be the perfect time to apply his wisdom.
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