Pity, Party of One

Last night I had a party. A pity party. Complete with chips and dip. Sitting at the dining room table for four, with Thoughts, and Fears and Sadness. We rehashed the events of the evening, replayed what I had gotten myself into.

Every so often I like to push myself out of my comfort zone. I like to try new and different things, even scary things. I also like to give things up, change patterns, break habits, keep things fresh. I like to make myself uncomfortable because growth doesn’t happen in the comfort zone, stagnation does.

So last night I decided to go to a belly dancing class. I had been on the fence about it up til the last minute because I was pretty sure I knew how it would go. But I went anyway, because a couple of friends were going too, and because… growth.

The instructor was a lovely woman, smiling, friendly, welcoming, warm. She was wearing a sequined bikini top and a silk skirt with a band of jangles (probably not the right term) around her waist.

She led us through a bunch of arm movements. It was a great upper body workout and I was surprised at how intense it was. I was thinking, I’m really gonna feel this tomorrow. Then she showed us how to isolate and move our hips. I was a bit challenged and more than a bit awkward, but I wasn’t looking for perfection, just trying to keep up and have some fun. And grow.

Then she started in with the shoulder shimmies and said something about letting everything in between our shoulders shimmy too. I shook my shoulders from side to side, acutely aware of what was no longer there in the middle. I had nothing to shake.

I could feel the tight band of scar tissue, restricting my movement. There was nothing loose about it. I felt the heat rising up into my face and the tears welling up behind my eyes. I calmly walked/shimmied out of the studio. I went into the bathroom and took a couple of minutes to compose myself.

I’ve often heard people relate grief to body parts. They say, ‘When she died I lost part of my heart’ or ‘When he died I felt like I lost my right arm.’ For days, weeks, months after the loss of a dear one, we can find ourselves walking around heartless and armless. Forgetting how to do simple things. Feeling like a physical part of us has been taken away.

Just when we feel like we’ve adjusted to this new way of living, something sets us off again. A scent, a song, a place, a taste. Something we read, something we remember.

I have found, over this past year, that it works the other way too. When I ‘lost’ my breasts, it felt like someone close to me had died. I’ve been moving through the process of grief for almost a year now. Most of the time, I’m perfectly fine, but sometimes something hits me, and I remember more deeply, and I mourn again.

So last night I found myself once again mourning the loss, just as I thought I might. I knew it could happen. I knew the night could end in a giant pity party! But I went anyway. And I’ll probably go again.

Because this is where the growth happens for me. In the uncomfortable places in between the shimmy.


And the earworm is… Shimmy Shimmy KoKo Bop by Little Anthony & Imperials whom I was coincidentally just saying last week, always reminds me of my late father.



  1. after practicing belly dancing for 12 years I still feel uncomfortable, uncoordinated and inadequate doing it 🙁 but your right we grow in our uncomfortable places and out of of our comfort zones. Belly dancing was created by women for women and that’s what I love about it. It teaches us to self love and to get in touch with our feminity in all the many different ways that looks. I can’t imagine your loss for your breasts, but I know your beautiful feminine spirit comes through in so many great ways. Good for you trying it out and embracing the uncomfortable so many people don’t. Dancing with you ladies is so much fun I hope we get to do it again 😍

  2. It was hard, very hard. But you’ll be back. My friend began dancing in earnest to save herself after two mastectomies. It took huge courage (you can identify here) but she felt if she didn’t dance, she would die. She called her first show “off my chest”. I can see your courage too.

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