Friday, June 21, 2013

Giving Up the Race

I have recently found a new hero.  She is around my age, blonde, very girly, a college student, and a former dancer.  Rebecca Houseknecht was one of the several dancers featured in the recent ballet documentary, First Position.  Before I even watched the 90+minute film yesterday, I knew (from my excellent skills on the internet) who she was and why I liked her.  She competed in the Youth America Grand Prix at age 17 and soon after received a contract to dance with the Washington Ballet.  After dancing as a main member of the company for a year, she gave up running the race.  

When I was at BYU and struggling with the eating disorder, I began a "rededicated effort" to be the "best anorexic."  I put these words in quotations because they are illusions that many who struggle with an eating disorder get caught in.  They are deceitful ways in which the eating disorder captures its prey.  During this period of time, I remember one therapist telling me that if I could just give up the goal of being the "best anorexic" with a certain goal weight so close to my grasp, I would become a hero.  Maybe just a hero to myself, but a hero nonetheless.  He had me picture a marathon runner, a runner running not because she loved it, but because she wanted to prove herself a slave to the pavement.  She was just a few strides from the finish line.  Now, I'm not saying that running marathons is a form of slavery, but rather a prime analogy of what was going on in my mind and body during this time.  Next, he had me picture her tearing off her number, and walking off the race track.  She didn't look back.  She just walked off.  

I look back at all the life changing moments I had to walk away from a potential "win" so I could find happiness and life.  Dance was one of these.  I figure that Rebecca and I are quite similar.  Except, she had the opportunity to live the life of a professional dancer before taking the leap of faith into normalcy.

Several months ago, my mom asked me if I wish I had never had such traumatic events pull me from ballet at age 16 (referring to the eating disorder and depression).  Confidently, I told her, "Mom, if it wasn't for those experiences, I would never have reached the level of self-awareness, happiness, and insight that I now enjoy.  I would have never been happy being a ballerina anyways."  The beautiful thing: I truly believe it.  

For those who are interested, here is the mash-up of Rebecca's story from First Position and an article from the Baltimore Sun newspaper:

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