I don’t know how many of you watch So you Think you can Dance, but I’m just going to fess up right this second and tell you that one of my guilty pleasures is reality TV. I’m sure it’s obviously because my life has become so devoid of actual activity, reality programming lets me live vicariously through someone else and help me forget that I’m essentially house bound.
One of my favorite choreographers is Mia Michaels. Her choreography is true artistry. I can’t think of a number that I’ve seen of hers that doesn’t just grip me deep in my gut and hold me captive for the one or two minutes it takes to complete the dance. Her routines are the ones I play over and over again because, like poetry, every time I watch it I get something new out of it.
Last night she had an amazing routine she choreographed; it’s the one I’ve embedded above for you to watch. You don’t see the workup to this, but this routine was inspired by Addiction and how it takes hold of someone; how impossible it can be to untangle yourself once you’ve become wrapped up in its web. How it weakens you and becomes your strength all at the same time. Before you know it, you are nothing without your addiction. At the end of the piece, the male dancer smiles malevolently at the camera because he knows she’ll be back. She always comes back. Wow, how can something so warped and twisted be so indescribably beautiful all at the same time?
I think most of us can relate to this artist’s representation of Addiction; especially those of us with a food addiction. I think we have it the worst because with most other addicts, their drug of choice isn’t required for their survival. I’m not saying it’s easy to give up booze or cigarettes or heroin. I know its not, but it’s so much harder when you have to have food to survive.
When we go on a diet, we can’t just quit food cold turkey. Oh sure, we can go through and get rid of all the crap and try to stay away from triggers, but we still have to eat and the stuff that is bad for us is forever calling to us. We are constantly fighting the urge to give in, to get the fix we need; that rush we get when we take those few moments to indulge…and its bliss…for those few moments, until the guilt and shame sets in and then it beats us right back down. It reminds us that we are failures, that we aren’t strong enough, that we don’t have the power or control…that we will NEVER beat this addiction; and before we know it…there we are back in his arms again.
The addiction seduces us initially because it is all reward and no consequences. We eat what we want and we don’t wake up the next morning to discover we can no longer see our feet or go to the grocery store or take a shower without getting out of breath. No, it comes on slowly and if we aren’t diligent, we find ourselves months later wondering where the 40 lbs came from and wondering why its so much harder to climb a flight of stairs, to stand in a long line, or to walk from your car to the store. By this time, we are weakened both physically and emotionally and are called upon to do something that takes great strength.
Many times we are called upon to battle an addiction when that very addiction has eroded our lives to such an extent that all we HAVE is the addiction. That addiction is our lover, our joy, our sadness, our pleasure, our pain. In Mia’s piece, you see the girl try to stand alone on wobbly legs, you see her fight to break free yet unable to keep her balance on her own. She tries to dance again and while the addiction supports her to some extent, her dance is a mere shadow of what she could have done on her own, without the influence of the addiction.
But for those brief moments where she gives in, most of her dance is trying to break free again. This is so how I feel. I want more than anything to break free and stand on my own, but to do so means to leave behind the only joy, the only thing I really know right now. Without it I truly am an empty vessel because at least for the immediate future I am so incredibly limited. I know…I know…it wouldn’t take long for me to enjoy the rewards of a healthier lifestyle; to push myself away and find my legs strong beneath me…ready to carry me out my door and back into the world of the living, but it isn’t easy getting there and you always know that, in the back of your head, your addiction is waiting with that malevolent smile; waiting for a moment of weakness when he can wrap you back up in his warm and comforting embrace. One small slip, one bit of bad news, one bit of good news, a set back, or a success…it doesn’t matter. That is all it takes for you to find yourself back in the dance with your addiction. You’ve been there many times before and each time you try to fight your way out, you know…how easy its going to be to find yourself there again.