The Journey from Fear into Freedom

Drama & Ministry = New Favorite Class!

Seriously, we got to choreograph our own dances and then perform them today. Do you know how much I miss dancing??

I REALLY miss dancing!

So, I wanted to write about it a little bit. Or a lot. Probably a lot, knowing me.

First of all, wow. I saw some seriously powerful dances today. I just got home from class, so I’m not really going to write much more than that because I need to process it all in my head first. I don’t have the words yet, but trust me: these dances were powerful.

Sometimes I have a hard time finding words for things, especially in speaking. The words come easier when I write, but even then sometimes they just can’t express what I need them to. This is why I do expressive arts therapy. When the words aren’t there, I can make a collage or a sand tray or dance what I’m feeling instead.

So creative works are very personal to me. Not something I share with many people. I don’t want these deeply personal things out there for people to tear down, stomp on, laugh at. I don’t want more people telling me that I’m not good enough. If I put these pieces of myself out there for people to see, I’m vulnerable and I can be hurt. People can take those things and twist them around and use them against me. So most of the time, I keep my writing, my art, my dancing, my singing to myself.

I’m trying to change that. That’s part of the reason I have this blog. It’s part of the reason I’m in Drama & Ministry right now. I knew it would take me out of my comfort zone and force me to open up and share with people, and that’s what I wanted.

Anyway, I wanted to write about the dance I did today, and the background of it. I got to do a little introduction/explanation before I danced, but there wasn’t enough time to go into the whole story. Plus, I wasn’t about to start talking about my therapy and such in front of everybody. So it’s going here instead.

The dance started out as a sand tray.

A few months ago in therapy, I made this sand tray. I don’t remember it exactly, but I think there was a figure of a girl. There were trees – I often use trees in my sand trays. It’s a symbol that is really meaningful to me in a lot of ways. But the main focal point was a large stone bridge in the center of the tray. On the sides of it, I sprinkled shells and shiny colored stones. The final item was a house.

When I was finished with the sand tray, my therapist asked me to tell him the story of this particular sand tray. It starts with the girl – me. She sets out on an adventure…sets out on her own, away from her emotionally abusive family, away from these things that are weighing her down. She comes to the forest and finds refuge there. Trees are safe. She journeys through the forest, and then she comes to the bridge. She walks onto the bridge and sees the treasures below – the shells and pretty rocks – and admires their beauty. She crosses the bridge and comes to the house. There are lights on inside and a fire in the fireplace. There’s a family there, warm and welcoming and loving, waiting with open arms to invite her in to stay.

(I wasn’t quite that articulate in therapy, but like I said – I do better with writing than speaking.)

I had mentioned dance to my therapist before, and we had done a little bit of it in previous sessions. He asked me if I wanted to go into the studio and dance my sand tray. So I did.

He put some music on, and I began to dance. Starting in a corner, curled up in a ball, covered with a blue scarf. Hesitantly peeking out. Slowly standing. Trying to move forward, but being pulled back. Sometimes moving a little further…only to get pulled back by the blue scarf representing my family, my past, my issues, again. This went on for a few minutes until I finally broke free and left it behind.

And then I was in the forest. Exploring. On my journey. But still sometimes looking back to the corner where I left that blue scarf – turning back, but then moving forward again.

I found a gift in the forest, represented by another scarf, this one a shimmery pinkish-gold. My T asked me what the gift was. I thought for a few seconds.


With my gift, I continued through the forest with more confidence, more courage, more freedom. I reached the bridge and danced there. The whole journey – through the forest to the bridge – took about ten minutes or so, I would say. There was a lot of repetition, but that was okay, because I was just dancing what I felt, for me, not for anyone else.

And then I reached the house…the loving family welcoming me in, and finally, I was safe and happy and I could rest.

Safe. Loved. Accepted. Wanted.

you can rest now. you are safe. you can sleep.

In the end, the dance took somewhere between 15-20 minutes. It was a powerful experience, and I know it’s something I’ll never be able to duplicate. That said, I used it as the inspiration for my Drama & Ministry dance. My T even let me borrow the music we used when I danced it that day in therapy. I had to shorten it up, modify it, do some actual choreography and practice instead of just improvising, but I like the way it turned out.

Even though that first experience of dancing it in therapy can’t be duplicated, it was still powerful for me to dance it in class today. I hope I managed to convey the idea, the story, the feelings to the audience as well. Honestly, I just went up there and got lost in the music, the dance. I hope it showed what I wanted it to. But even if it didn’t, it was good for me. Healing. Getting up there and sharing a piece of myself, something that came from deep inside me, something that I normally hide. Putting it out there for others to see. Trusting that they will be gentle with it, with me. That they won’t use it to hurt me or turn it against me.

Seriously, I love this class.

On kind of a fun note, the music I used was Zoe Keating – the CD was “Into the Trees,” and the song I used was called “The Path.” Fitting, hm? I thought so. Another fun fact, I picked out what I was going to wear – my nice black pants, and a tank top that was part of a dance costume back when I danced at Riverbend. Then I realized that the pants were actually the other half of the costume. And then I realized that the dance was called “Pathways.” Again, fitting. I love it when things all come together like that. ^_^

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One Response to The Journey from Fear into Freedom

  1. Michelle says:

    Was your therapist who did the sand tray and dancing with you certified or trained in creative arts therapies or just your average psychologist? Either way he sounds like he found some great ways to reach you, and as someone who works within the realm of creative therapies this post was awesome to read. I remember that costume and that dance from Riverbend. I still use some of my old “costume” pieces too. It’s so nice when seemingly unrelated things pull together into neat little packages… beautifully orchestrated moments of life.

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