That IS How I Feel

I’m working through an issue, and lucky you, I’m sharing. There is an group I belong to that meets regularly (once a week, if I go every time.) It is a large group of folks, mostly strangers, who dance and meditate together. I have made friends with some dancers, but for the most part this is not a sharing with words experience. We simply dance and meditate and work on our personal issues. The idea is to fling your self-concisouness out the window and just move. I love it and it has been a wonderful healing process for me.

And now the issue. Some of the men remove their shirts. Some after a long period of dancing, when they are hot, but others at the start. This bothers me. I can’t say exactly why. I grew up in the 70’s when men and boys went everywhere shirtless (hence the eventual no shirts, no shoes, no service) It never bothered me at all. Have I become a prude in my old age?

Recently I found out it bothered other women as well and we were invited to speak directly to the men and let them know how we felt. I decided this was the route I would take. And so my dilemma emerged.

Instantly I came up with ways to tell them that took the responsibility away from me. I would make it about the rules, or the fact that there might be women who had suffered some sort of sexual trauma and it wasn’t good for them or yada yada yada….

What I wasn’t doing was telling them the truth. I wasn’t examining why it made ME personally uncomfortable and why I had the urge to rip off my shirt and dance in front of them with my scared, breastless chest (double mastectomy) and make them feel my discomfort in a most personal way. Examining this emotion made me realize I wasn’t uncomfortable with their shiftlessness, I was angry.

Angry? I had to ask myself why. Why does someone moving to a certain impulse make me angry? I have come to the conclusion that it is because they seem like exhibitionists, they seem to be making a statement that they want me to see, to look at, to be impressed, by their physique. And this attitude takes away the safety of the dance…it takes away the freedom for me to throw all those social implications away, to expect that NO ONE in the room is watching me, or judging me, or thinking about how I look.

But don’t I carefully select what I’m going to wear to each dance? Don’t I try on several outfits each week before deciding this is a purple day, or a tank top day, or a long flowing dress day? (okay, I don’t even own a long flowing dress, but I do have some shirts that swirl a bit.)

Is my anger at the shirtless men or is it at myself? Angry that I still, at this stage of my life, fall back into the middle school emotions of trying to impress others?

I don’t know. I have to think about it some more. I have to wait until I’m there, in the presence of the shirtless man and dance on the idea.

And then I will approach him and speak. And it will be about how I feel.