June 2014

Challenging the idea of relaxing

From an outsider’s perspective, my life is pretty crazy – and anything but relaxed. I am at the not-gym* five times a week. Rehearsals are three times a week, and there are two more nights of singing on top of that, plus the practices I do at home. I also  like to get some dancing done. Then maintaining a social life, and a job as well.

I do not really do the standing still thing – and when I get home, I still don’t stop unless I am napping or sleeping. As lovely as my flatties are, I am reluctant to socialise with them. I want my own mental space, because even when I am at home, I cannot stop. If I am watching a movie, I am usually browsing a magazine or the internet as well, or I am planning/writing a blog. If I am cooking, I am also trying to fit in some stretches or exercise around it.

Part of it is the chronic pain. I do best when I am moving (yes, singing is moving, and an ab workout, and lots of oxygenation to boot). On a day when I do not exercise and do things, I get very grumpy, mainly because my whole back will rebell. So there is a mental element to my need to move. Sitting in front of a television will hurt me, so I do not see the point of it.

There was one time when I was asked by a health professional when the last time was that I was relaxed. I was speechless**. My posture, coupled with the cycle of pain and inflamation made relaxation very difficult. This is still a problem of sorts.

I guess part of the issue is that some see relaxed as sitting by a pool with a disgusting cocktail that tastes like pot pouri in one hand. I would not be beside the pool. I would be in the pool. And if it were a tropical beach, I would be on the beach frolicking — or actually charging through the waves and body surfing, laughing at myself every time I managed to ingest a mouthful of sand.

For me, there are many types of relaxing:

1) Those dances where I am completely transported into the music and dance experience

2) Classes at the not-gym where I am in a position which is releasing the tension in my body

3) Singing a song where everything is working and my body is filled with the music.

4) Moments when I am hanging out with friends, being myself, feeling happy, laughing lots.

I am subverting the meaning of relaxing, I know, but I find I can only relax by doing very active things and finding the joy in these. This is not because I feel guilty about not doing other things. It is because my body and mind are happiest when I move.

* Definition is coming

**Trust me, this is not normally a thing for me.

Relationship Entitlement

This blog is a little late because I was trying to work out where it was going. It has been in the works for ages!

The shooting in California will bring out many issues: gun control, mental health care, but for me the big societal issue is male entitlement. I read Elliot Rogers’ manifesto. He sounded like many things, but one thing in it stuck out of me. Elliot Rogers thought that he was entitled to have sex with beautiful women.

In my opinion, there are rights that people are entitled to have, but the right to have sex and relationships is not one of them.

Elliot’s sense of entitlement is one that he shares with many men. We may want to deny it, but I see it all the time. In the city at night, men go to nightclubs looking for sex. I have had many try to hit on me and get annoyed when I reject their advances. I do so politely – I am never rude. Yet I was still hit with a scarf and angrily growled at when I rejected invitations for drinks and dancing during the period of my life when I did the nightclubbing thing (this has passed now). Women are sometimes considered to be arrogant and fussy if they reject the advances of men who are interested in them. I have been told to continue dating men who I am not attracted to just in case a slow burn spark ignites because he is such a nice guy, and he deserves a girlfriend.

Then there is the conversations I have with lovely women in the world who tell other lovely women that they deserve more than they are getting in their relationships or deserve nice partners. I am told I deserve a nice boy. I disagree. I was dating a guy who was treating me like optional used horseshit last year, and I was told that I deserved better. I also disagree with this. Some of you, my friends will be angry when you read these sentences. Read my reasoning below.

There are two assumptions I have problems with:

1) the assumption that men want sex, and women hold back

2)  the assumption that every person deserves a partner, male or female, whatever works for them, for whatever purposes (sex, relationships, games of Twister…).

Assumption (1) is wrong. If I could have sex with someone fun, I would. I like it. My one beef with being single is that I get no sex. It is awesome, ok. There is a lack of people that I want to have sex with. In fact, there are none. But do I want sex. Yes, ohhhhhh yeessss, oh god, I do. I feel a need to link this scene… it will not go away. Am I entitled to it? No. No one is entitled to anything from anyone else without them wanting to give it – these things are about hormones and above all, what people decide to do.

As for relationships, well if someone finds a relationship that really makes them happy, well, the world has given them a gift and they should savour it, because thinking of it as an entitlement is maximum silly.  Of course, I hope that one day I will meet a lovely bloke, but I do not think I deserve it. I do not think that the world owes it to me. The boy from last year was dumped, but that was not because I deserved better. It was because I decided to dump him (despite a severe hormonal reaction to him). I know many people who have had or who have relationships that make them miserable. Many of them are superstars, and do not deserve what they get. They chose it, so they get it.

For my part, there have been a few other auditionees, but none of them have made the cut. I define what I want from a relationship. If someone cannot provide what I want, they find themselves in my rear vision mirror or friendzone. I may get a lovely relationship and I may not. If I do get a lovely bloke in my life, I want to ensure that I keep honest about the realities of the relationship, and if it is a good relationship for me, I do not want to go around thinking. “I deserved that” because that will mean taking it for granted, and getting annoyed if someone does not match up with “what I deserve”.

If I end up dating someone, it will be about him deciding to be with me and the other way around. It is really that simple.

Summary: Relationships are about choices that people make in relation to each other, with a bit of luck about meeting people and attraction and not falling in love with serial killers. Not fate, or destiny, or people deserving things. That is bollacks, my friends.

Physical Issues

I have had pain in the right side of my body for years. At first It appeared – which the health professionals later called ‘episodes’, and then it went away again, only to reappear during times of stress. An especially stressful time emerged caused by a less than wonderful relationship, career issues and other stuff meant that it was terrible for about two months, and no physios could put a dent in it. 

Then one day, I contracted glandular fever. This was painful in itself, but once I recovered, the symptoms of pain along my right arm stayed, and my whole right side stayed painful too. It became part of my new normal. I accepted it since I had gone to multiple physios, who had not managed to help me, or who had told me that I was never going to get better. So I just kept doing life as best I could.

The job changed, the relationship crumbed. The pain stayed, and I looked for help with it more than once. The excruciating episodes happened about once a year. It stopped me from learning to drive, sitting, sleeping. I was lucky though. I have rarely needed to give up the things I have enjoyed.

About a year ago, a man told me that my posture was terrible. He has since apologised for being too frank with me, but he was quite correct, and I have never been angry with him for telling me this. I am currently on a journey to change my posture, but this does not tell the whole story. I will blog more about posture later.

Earlier this year, I was also diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). Thankfully, I have avoided the worst of it.  CRPS can leave people bed-ridden and unable to do the most basic tasks, which means that they are not able to work. I am lucky not to be one of those people. I do not take any pain drugs on a regular basis – and exercise more than most people. In fact I am one of the busiest people I know. Some friends intimated that I should stop dancing with this diagnosis – but my osteopath told me to do the opposite. I dance whenever I can, and I love it. 

Throughout last year, I looked for help from many medical and exercise professionals. Now, I feel like I have the perfect team behind me. This part of my blog is about my journey to getting better and my experience of medical and exercise professionals, and what works for me. It goes without saying that something that works well for me may not help other people.

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