Thursday, June 10, 2010

My Dance Lesson

Hi All!

Yesterday I had my first dance lesson* after a "hiatus" of about six weeks. Now, my partner** and I have been practicing pretty much daily during the hiatus but, we haven't exactly been doing everything that our instructor*** had told us to do during our last lesson.

Our dance^ has been going pretty smoothly lately. We rarely step on each other's toes or knock heads while changing directions. True, once in a while my partner gets a bit "independent" and decides to show me that I am not the only one who can lead the steps.

Anyway, the instructor was impressed with our work during the six week break from lessons. She did have a few minor corrections to make (like I need to do more massage and I need to work on a couple specific steps^^) but, overall, she was happy with our progress. In fact, she has reduced our lessons from twice a month to once a month. Yeah!

*Speech Therapy
**Abductor Spasmodic Dysphonia
***Susan (SLP)
^Living with SD
^^ Working on the sounds which still give me the most difficulty by focusing on the sounds after the difficult sounds.

Okay. If you deciphered all of that, you know how my latest speech appointment went. Now, I would like to address the reason I call my living with SD as a "dance" instead of a struggle, a journey, or anything like that.

The idea of living with SD for the rest of my life was very overwhelming for me. I struggled to "beat" SD and this resulted in a less than ideal situation. I soon realized that each and every time I attempted to "subdue" SD or overpower it, it would come back even more ferociously to "kick my rear."

I would work and work and struggle and then find myself taking the proverbial "one step forward two steps back." It seemed like all of my hard work was turning out to be worthless. And then, Susan sat me down for one of her "talks (she does this occasionally when I need it!)."

Susan told me that I was never going to "beat" or "subdue" SD because it was stronger than I could ever be. True, I am very, very stubborn but, SD is even more so. Each time I tried to beat SD it came back because, in reality, I was never going to completely beat SD. I just wasn't. It was here to stay and I needed to deal with that fact. Susan suggested considering living with SD not as a battle but rather, as a dance.

This dance has two distinct participants, me and SD, who need to learn to dance in harmony with each other without stepping on each others toes or trying to take the lead too strongly. If I could learn how to work WITH SD instead of trying to work AGAINST it, Susan assured me that my life would be much happier.

I went home after this little talk and I pondered what I had heard. Work WITH SD? Shouldn't I try to eradicate it? Smash it into dust? This dance stuff just seemed like crazy talk . . . at first. And then, it all started to make sense.

Any major relationship in life is more of a dance than a battle. Think about marriage. You work WITH your spouse (most of the time!) to live together. When things are out of sync (stepping on toes) life isn't too happy but, once you get back "in step" with each other - harmony and happiness.

So - dance with SD. I decided that the philosophy of dancing WITH SD instead of struggling against it just made sense. I knew that SD was incurable so I was stuck with it and learning to live with it just seemed to make the most of the situation. After all, struggling hadn't gotten me too far up to this point so there really wasn't too much to lose now, was there?

Over the past couple of years I have been learning the steps. SD is a demanding partner. If I don't show up for practice each and every day by doing my exercises and massage and now, reading out loud, SD gets cranky and tries to take the lead in my life by making my voice worse. The minute I decide to strike out on my own for a solo, SD is right there pulling me back and reminding me that my time for soloing is now past and that SD is here to stay. As with every dance, and with every dance partner, there are things which make life easier - I know the kinds of words which SD causes me to mess up the most so I work on those or I think of ways to avoid them. There are situations where SD is just going to show up more than in others (noisy background, large crowds, when I am nervous or upset or tired) and I make adjustments for this (amplification, relying on Hubby more, moving to a quieter venue, asking for music to be turned down, etc.).

Considering my life with SD as a dance has helped me to work with the disorder to find my voice again. Yes, there are times when my "partner" and I are at odds but, once I get my head right (somehow, SD is never the one at fault - imagine that!), we are back in step and dancing along smoothly.

Yes, my experience with SD is a dance. One for which I will never stop rehearsing but one which, when done well, is very rewarding!



Diane said...

What a great description of your SD. A dance! I will never forget that!

Mental P Mama said...

I think the dance imagery is a healthy way to deal with your SD. Sometimes you just don't feel like dancing at all, though. And I so get that. I admire your strength.