Dance like you’re not hurting

It is December. I am downtrodden and upset and my sister came round and bought me lunch and hot chocolate, simple gestures of winter comforts, and we walked the neighbour’s dog around the park. The fresh air and exercise didn’t lift me, neither did the talking, so when she left I went for a lie down, watched some tv, filled up the space with noise while I fought off thoughts of all that is lost and lacking in my life.

A friend of mine invited me out for a raggae and ska night, and although I wasn’t really in the mood I knew that if I stayed home I would feel worse, and lonely. And so I got up and I showered, and flung on some clothes, put my hair up, and put my make on, (amazing what false bravado comes from wearing bright lipstick). I got another friend on board, and we went out to the pub. We met up with friends of theirs, I spoke to and hugged strangers, and danced all night, as though I wasn’t hurting, because isn’t that what we do, when we need to connect with people but don’t know how to without exposing who we really are?

My friend and I walked home and ate chips on a wall and laughed and spoke to a cat and then I came home to a cold empty house, and I felt so lonely and sad.

And tomorrow I will do the same again, because isn’t that just what you have to do?

You go out and you laugh and dance and pretend that you are having just the most wonderful time, and you do catch glimpses of happiness somewhere in between the bright lights and basslines, and the smiles and shapes cutting through the hollow sadness. And on it goes for days, weeks, months until one day you realise that actually you are okay and finally over it, the great upheaval has settled, and you are open to finding joy again. But until then you smile, fight off the fear, and fill in the gaps with the mantra ‘I’m fine.’

At times I enjoy being alone on the dancefloor, because it makes me feel brave, I embrace it, it’s the only time I am happy to be left alone, dancing to my own beat. You’re allowed to be in the midst of a crowd and still feel alone when dancing, in other scenarios it is quite heartbreaking. It’s a sort of disconnected way of socialising, connection to the music, the atmosphere, safety in numbers, without needing to acknowledge how I’m truly feeling or who I am.

I know I must make a friend of the silence in between these occasions, and find peace in being alone, before it stretches with thoughts of loss and loneliness, but until then I will fill it with basslines and light shows and the freedom of movement, and dance, dance, dance my way back to happiness.

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