In this exercise, you’re to look at a dream you abandoned in childhood. Predictably, this brings up screwed up childhood stuff about my mother.
I wanted to do everything when I was little. The thing I did that got taken away was the sketching. My mother is a former art teacher, and between her determination that I become her and some weird arrogance born of really outdated teaching ideas, she made my interest in art a form of suffering and criticism under the guise (excuse?) of “instruction.” Given her creepy mood swings, it just became wiser not to draw and to avoid her heaping criticism on me when all I wanted was the feeling of zen joy. She now approaches her “feedback” with “I’m not sure if I should say this,” as though I’m so oversensitive. It’s annoying, considering I’ve survived criticism in really vicious mean-spirited environments (I am a pro writer) and hers is still worse.
She really is one of those frustrated teachers that Julia Cameron talks about, and just my luck, I got locked up with her while also being fat. Which leads to the dream that never came to fruition: I wanted, so badly, to ballet dance. But because of my weight, I wasn’t allowed to, ever. You can imagine my fury when I found out that way back when, the original ballet dancers were extraordinarily limber… fat people. My mother never fought for me, and she sure as hell wasn’t going to fight for me on that one, which is just as well, since I’ve since learned about ballet’s reputation for starving and even killing so many of its dancers.
I’m a bellydancer now, which is somewhat welcoming to fat women like myself – while I’ve never managed to progress beyond the year one classes because of money issues, I am optimistic that I have found a tribal school I can afford that I will continue to be able to afford now. I just need to get the punch card and go. So dancing got reclaimed, and in a way much more empowering than ballet. First of all, you’re allowed to have hips. And second of all, you have to eat if you want to keep up with all that hip shaking.
I keep thinking of that poem that got quoted at me all the time when I was a kid about it being “time to leave behind childish things.” My mother brought it up a lot, because apparently to her there was something wrong with allowing a child to be, well, a child after a certain point. I need to write a response. “Time to set down the anger and pick up the toys, because picking up those childish things is a path to joy.”