letting go of the disciplined body
I realized today that I hadn’t done an Alexander Technique assignment that was due yesterday – that I had completely forgotten about it. I felt a dread, and then quickly sent myself into a fury, not knowing wether to continue on with the GTA grading I was doing, switch to editing my dance film project (which I had planned to transition to 30 minutes ago), or move to my Alexander homework that I had just figured out was already a day late. I stood up and began scooting across the room, out loud freaking out, calling up to my partner asking his assistance to get me situated in some new location with some new set of notebooks or technology so I could move to I don’t even know which activity I should be prioritizing right now and I’m never like this what’s happening this is really hard…
My heart was pumping quickly. My breathing was shallow and quick. My shoulders curved forward and up in a protective stance, then slumped over forward in a defeated one.
I had an anxiety attack.
My partner came downstairs, calmly sat on the couch, and said, “well, I think you should show down and do Alexander because it sounds like the healthy thing to do right now.” I sat down and cried, realizing that I had been freaking out. I never know when I’m in a state of anxiety—it’s only after, in reflective moments (or when pointed to the realization by a loving other) that I think my behavior could be anything other than a clearly logical and reasonable response to my situation.
I took a deep breath and shifted my body into a settled alert position, sitting on my sits bones. My partner gently brushed his hands across my shoulders and down my arms as he spoke words of encouragement and grace over me. I received his care, directing my body to be free. (‘Free’ is a directive used in Alexander Technique that refers to the state your body moves toward when it learns to let go of, or ‘inhibit,’ habits of tension).
Free is not a word I would use to describe how I experience my body. Disciplined would be more accurate. Discipline is my primary relationship with my body. Discipline through years of training in dance, being a perfectionist, living with the hyper vigilance that being surrounded by misogyny requires, masking my identity in response to internalized homophobia, and controlling my body through the various eating disorders to which I turned to gain control over my place in the world.
(Even now, while I write of this discipline, I feel a literal pain in my gut).
But today I directed my body to be free. To move and rest with ease. I think this is what I need most right now for my recovery, for my body, for myself.