A Ballerina and a Cyclops: a modern fairytale.

I’m going to tell you a story about a little girl who dreamed of wearing a tutu everyday to work.  Who thought life would be about fur, feathers, sequins, pointe shoes and tiaras.  But, like most fairy stories, there’s always a catch: a frog to kiss, a name to recall, or a spell to be broken.  As evil threatens the happy ever after, can fairy tales come true?

Once upon a time…

When I was five, I learnt to dance.  Not only did I learn, i fell in love with moving to music.  It seemed I had rhythm, and my teachers agreed.  It turned out I was rather good.

When I was a teenager, it became apparent I could paint.  I’d spend hours sketching, drawing, photographing and painting the landscape around me.  I’d spend hours watching the sky change and sunsets would mesmerise me.  It also turned out I was rather good.

You’d think I was destined for greatness, wouldn’t you?

At the age of fifteen, I got on a stage (something I did every day and loved) and couldn’t see where I was going anymore.  All I could see was black.  I danced but I had no idea of what I was doing was correct.  The lights were dazzling me.  I couldn’t understand why it was just me, no one else had a problem.  Ever dance I needed to over think and work out: the joy of freedom was gone.  What is dance without unadulterated freedom?  So, the problem began to unravel.  I became insular and felt alone: how could anyone understand?  What was wrong with me?  Why was I so strange?  You see dancing was my life and I lived and breathed the stage.  My second family were in the studio but when I began to falter, I felt ashamed.  I felt I was letting everyone down.  I felt useless as my dreams and aspirations began to crumble…

When I was sixteen I went to study art and design.  I’d spend hours reproducing images of the castle and cathedral – and city life, where I was studying.  However, I couldn’t see to produce some fine detailed work.  I’d become frustrated and (again) couldn’t understand why no one else was having the same problems.  I’d miss lectures because I couldn’t find the lecture room.  I had no one to talk to.  What should I do? I’d think and then hide it all away behind a smile.  They didn’t understand.  People never did.  

I felt useless.  A third class citizen.  Worthless.

When I left school my art teacher wrote on my shirt ‘talent is rare, don’t waste it’.  So, when all my dreams turned to dust, I felt like I had to hide.  These capabilities which I had to bury away as they reminded me of disappointment and failure.  Ashamed.  

But, I’m like an irritating rash that won’t go away.  Therefore, like the warrior I can be, I grew, I moved on and built a fortress for myself.  High in my tower I learnt to lug the the fortified walls everywhere, the cumbersome bricks, my armour, my coping strategies bolstering me.  I didn’t want to feel inadequate and stupid again.  And I managed for a while.

Now the story momentarily stops here.  Most tales have a moral and it’s important we remember and identify with this.  Otherwise, what is the point?  

So, Imagine that; almost living a half life.  Imagine being held back by something you can’t share or explain.  It’s very lonely.  

Maybe you can.  I’m guessing in one way or another that you know what I’m talking about.  Disabilities – whether visible or hidden, maybe? Similarly, mental illness: depression, anxiety, PTSD…unfortunately, I don’t believe that anyone lives a painless life (apart from that woman in Scotland who feels no pain).  We all have our cross to bear.  But I digress…

Rolling back to the story: 

When I was circling forty (ahem), the bricks began to crumble.  The thing is stuff catches up with you.  So, along with shattered dreams of being a prima Ballerina (I really missed the boat there) or becoming the bright young thing of the design world, my physical world began to fade in front of my eyes.  So, I reverted to that scared young girl and hid.  Feelings resurfaced.  Long hidden insecurities were pulled from the recesses of my soul.  I found that my head was not a nice place to be.  

I was Snow White and i’d eaten the poison apple.  Vultures were circling for my body (dramatic I know but people love to crow).  And all I could think was ‘is this as good as it gets?’ (It was like a kid/life-crisis/visually-impaired/breakdown) So what would you do?  

Firstly, I slept, hid, avoided the world.  Like a wounded animal I have to rest.  And then I woke up and like a cyclops, I cast my good eye around to see what I could see.  Well, I thought, I’m not dead yet. I took pleasure in the things that mattered the most: my family, my friends and my Rosie Dog.  But as grateful and as blessed as I felt to have, and there’s no denying this, the best people in my life, it (as nothing ever is for this high maintenance rambler) was not enough.

So, I reverted to my other animal instinct.  I fought. 

At the combined age of all my children minus six (vain as I am I can’t even mouth the numbers) I took a risk.  Faced with a life languishing in dimly lit rooms, but not too dim I’d walk into anything, i longed for the days when I could actually see something!  I knew I’d take the RP in all its tunnelled glory.  I made my peace with my lack of night vision.  I knew things needed to change though.  And like all great protagonists, I had to find a way…A chance conversation, a chat with an intelligent lady who doesn’t realise how utterly amazing she’d is, and voila! I had a contact.  With years of the words ‘there’s no hope’, ‘what you have is incurable’, ‘things won’t ever get better’ and my personal favourite ‘go home and be a mother to your children and stop worrying about a career’, I saw a small chink of light.  Could he?  Could he really polish (not your country Karl) my world and help me open up my life once more?  

It was a 60/40 gamble.

On Wednesday 3rd April 2019,  I visited the Prof.  My first outing (besides the bag lady daily loon walk) since D-Day and with the sun in the sky, I was unleashed unto the world.  Who knew the world was so vivid?  Him likened me to a gazelle, as (repeatedly) I was running off from him.  Comments of ‘you think you’re s single woman do you?’ and ‘you’re all confident now, but wait until you’re tripping over a yellow sign’.  Steps have been my enemy, so running up and down the precariously long tube escalators was a dream come true (trust me, if you’d been to the hellish place I’d been, You’d take the small victories too).  Therefore, when I windmilled into clinic with breathless apologies, I was met with smiles and congratulations – sorry I’m late but I did run you know.  On my own!’

‘So the gamble paid off?’ He smiled…

I bet he can’t wait to do my left eye, after all the high jinx we had in the theatre! 

They say that you have to teach rock bottom to rebuild.  I’m haven’t rebuilt a tower though, they’re too structured and boring,  after all, I’m a bohemian at heart.  I’m growing a garden of vibrant flowers.  A thousand aromas assaulting the senses.  I am reaching out and breaking boundaries – why not? 

And, although this could be a happy ever after, this story is going to run and run.  There are dreams to be realised and exciting journeys to be had.  This is only the beginning of my fourth chapter; it’s only Bon Jovi! so we’re only half way there…

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