***I'll be performing this beautiful solo this Saturday, 10/24/20, at 5pm. Log on to be a part of this experience***
Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86173474354...
Zoom Password: 9hours
In the late summer months of 2019, my dear friend (and Company Director of Intertwine Movement Collective), Zandria Lucas, choreographed an incredible solo for me to perform. The work explored a woman rediscovering her sensuality, 'womanhood', and who she is at her core after having taken social gender roles such as wife/mother, and becoming lost in them. Reclaiming herself and recognizing that before we are anything we are women.
Who knew this would be a narration of my very own life... to. the. letter.
At the time, my marriage was rocky to say the absolute least. In the summer of 2017, a month after birthing our second child, my husband asked for a divorce. We had been married for just under one year, but unfortunately he was no longer happy in the relationship. Over the next three years our household saw some good times and many not so good. I tried to conform to his ideals of what his wife should be. I tried to be better for him. I tried to make myself more... more open... more vulnerable... more attentive... more appreciative... more loyal. I tried to give him the love he asked for. But with all of this trying, I didn't realize that I was denying all of my own truths. I fully believed my character, my feelings, and my experiences MUST be inaccurate simply because he believed his were correct.
In the fall of 2019, I shared a hard truth with him about my past. It hurt him deeply. Because of his pain, I disregarded my own wants, needs, and desires. I took on a great deal of shame and lost my whole Self in the process of laying down my life for him. By the end of the marriage, I had lost myself completely. I didn't recognize myself. I accepted behavior that no woman should EVER accept. I kept secrets from my family and closest friends. I believed I was a horrible person for making him feel unloved. I believed that my inability to make him happy was directly tied to my worthiness to be treated with honor, respect, and compassion. I believed that allowing him to deal with his emotions in whatever ways that he felt he needed was supportive and that I was being loving and understanding of his present needs. I believed that allowing him to hurt me was reciprocity for my truth hurting him. I had lost my voice. I had lost my way. I had lost myself.
When I first performed this solo, I danced to the literal words of the song more so than the choreographed intent. The English translation:
Don't leave me We must forget All can be forgotten
That has already passed away Forget the time Of misunderstandings And the time lost Trying to know "how" Forget those hours That sometimes kill With slaps of "why" The heart of happiness
Don't leave me Don't leave me Don't leave me Don't leave me
I will give to you Pearls made of rain From countries Where it never rains I will work the land All my life and beyond To cover your body With gold and with light I will make a land Where love will be king Where love will be law Where you will be queen Don't leave me Don't leave me Don't leave me Don't leave me
Don't leave me
I will invent, for you Fanciful words That you'll understand I will tell you
About those lovers Who have twice seen Their hearts set ablaze I will tell you The story of the king Who died of not having Ever met you Don't leave me Don't leave me Don't leave me Don't leave me
We've often seen Fire flowing again From an ancient volcano Considered too old It's said that there are Fire-scorched lands That yield more wheat Than the best April And when evening comes With a burning sky The red and the black-- Are they not joined together? Don't leave me Don't leave me Don't leave me Don't leave me
Don't leave me
I won't cry anymore I won't talk anymore I will hide over there To watch you Dance and smile And to hear you Sing and then laugh Let me become The shadow of your shadow The shadow of your hand The shadow of your dog Don't leave me Don't leave me Don't leave me Don't leave me
I remember very clearly the night I performed the solo at Emergence (the company's first full length production). My ex (then estranged husband) was in the audience. He hadn't seen my work in quite some time. I danced those words very literally for him.
Don't leave me We must forget All can be forgotten That has already passed away Forget the time Of misunderstandings And the time lost Trying to know "how" Forget those hours That sometimes kill With slaps of "why" The heart of happiness Don't leave me
It was the best I'd ever performed the piece. I felt it so deep down as I danced across the stage that I could feel the physical hurt inside. It took my breath away. I wondered if he'd noticed. If he could feel the energy I presented for him... As if Nina were singing the pages of my own journal, I yearned for him and let it all bleed out on the stage that night. The show was sold out (oversold actually), but to me he was the only one in the audience. I wondered if he felt it was for him.... if he could see me. I turned myself inside out to try to make ours a happy life for him. To try to be the one he wanted.
When I read the words now they are the saddest I've ever seen. I read as this woman pleads with her desired lover, "Don't leave me." She speaks of all the incredible ways she will try to make his happiness a reality with her. I'd imagine she fell short of those promises time and again. She pleads continuously throughout the song, "Don't leave me. Don't leave me. Don't leave me." But if he were truly her lover, would she have to plead? If he were the husband designed just for her, would she have to beg? Would she have to change? Would they both have to endure such insurmountable pain?
I read the words again, but this time, I say them aloud to myself. Beautiful words for the truest love I will ever know:
I will make a land Where love will be king Where love will be law Where you will be queen
I look forward to dancing to these words rather literally again next weekend. But this time, instead of being a tragic love song dedicated to a man with one foot perpetually outside the door, it will be the most triumphant and romantic love song ever sung.... to my Self; a piece of work blanketing Her in all of the love, tenderness, sacrifice, and fullness She has always deserved.
We owe it to ourselves to always continue to dance and let our light shine. Live in our truth, whatever that may be, regardless of how others may respond to it. And to have the love and respect for ourselves to say "No, that is quite enough." I listened to an incredible interview today in which Jessica Ross, of J.R. Counseling, and LaTrease Nwunye, of Connecting 2 Love, talked about vulnerability and the importance and liberation in re-framing seemingly "negative" experiences in order to recognize the gift and resounding beauty of the lotus. Sometimes we allow ourselves to get stuck in the mud. The longer we stay there, the darker and dirtier it can become. Your own permission is all you need to get yourself unstuck. Be mindful that "unstuck" is only the first step. It's a long, messy trek from the middle of that swamp back to the green pastures where you belong. But you are on your way. You've made that first step. You are unstuck. Push forward. Push through. And give 'em a little one-two step as you chassé into your abundance and reclaim the woman you were meant to be all along.
Thank you God.
*I'll be performing this piece again in one week at 9 Hour Interludes. You can watch Reclaiming Me on 10/24 at 5pm, and you can catch even more incredible artists presenting their work from 10/21 - 10/24 every day between 11am and 8pm via Zoom. I hope you can join us :-)
*Sesa Wo Suban - Transform your character*
This Adinkra symbol signifies personal reflection and transformation. It combines two symbols. The Morning Star, which can mean a new start to the day, is placed inside an outer wheel which implies initiative and moving forward.