Dancing Shirtless

I wrote last week’s blog regarding my emotional reaction to men dancing without shirts several weeks ago. I have to write blogs ahead of time when I’m traveling, especially to areas with no cell service. It just happened that this time I was at a dance retreat with ninety-nine women at the time that blog was automatically posting. The retreat brought many great things into my life, but one in particular that had to do with the issue of the shirtless men.

You see….at the retreat I danced without my shirt.

This was a six day event, in the desert, all women and lots of dancing and lots of heat. The room we danced in was large, but soon became a bit of a sweat shop. So I could say that women took off their shirts because we were hot.

Not really accurate. Women took off their shirts because we were celebrating our bodies, our differences, our selves and more. We were celebrating everything. So when I felt the urge to take off my shirt….well….I didn’t.

And the next day when I felt the urge again, I still didn’t. Instead, I spent the next day overthinking things. Why did I want to dance without my shirt? Especially since I had been so offended or upset or something in previous experiences when men danced without their shirts?

What was I trying to prove? What was I feeling? What kind of attention was I trying to get from this?

Think, think, think and think some more.

Now…to back up a few steps. The dancing that I do is a meditation of sorts. It is all about getting out of your head and into your body and this is why it has been a transformative and healing process for me.

The next day I danced with my hands clutching the bottom edge of my shirt. I wanted to do this. I wanted to express my freedom the way these other women were. I wanted my scared, double mastectomy chest to be free and beautiful and no longer bind me.

But I couldn’t do it.

Until I spotted a new friend. I had met this woman the first day and I liked her instantly because she was open and honest and funny and artistic and friendly and liked to camp and liked animals and, and, and….I danced over to her and I asked for help in taking my shirt off. She obliged with a smile and a hug.

And so I danced with my shirt off. I danced for all the women who have had breast cancer and surgery and mastectomy. I danced for all the women without breasts and all the women with breasts. I danced for myself and I danced for my mother and I danced for my daughter.

So, in answer to my question last week…you remember, the one about the man dancing without his shirt?

I’m happy for him. He can dance without his shirt all he wants. Who am I to say why he does it, but his reasons are not mine. I can’t make things better for myself by pushing my needs on to others. The dance is what counts and I can close my eyes, dance somewhere else in the room, or embrace his choice. Just because he has made a choice, I can’t take that as a sign that I’m not allowed to make a choice. Because in the right place, at the right time…I can make a choice.

And, with the help of a friend, I did make that choice.