When I first wrote this
it was 11:20pm on Tuesday
tired, determined, raw.
Now it’s 6:45pm on Wednesday
and I’m editing my words a bit
feeling thoughtful, clear, connected
I am not ready to write too much
for a new community.
But I do just want to clarify some things
before impressions begin to go around
and labels become lenses,
shading views of honest existence.
A lot of people think I am a “happy person.”
By this, they mean that they think that I always feel happy.
I do feel happiness.
I try my best to cultivate joy.
But I do not always feel happy.
I cannot imagine what it would be like
to always feel happy.
From a young age, multiple rounds of
depression, eating disorders, exercise addiction
have swallowed me up.
My 17th birthday marked a year of
antidepressants and on-and-off talk therapy.
I made it to the end of December
senior year of high school
before I quit dancing.
At that point,
logic rattled against reality in my head
and my heartbeat strained in a chest of bristled bones
bound to crack.
My mother and I spent the majority of those high school years,
crying on the kitchen floor together
trying to feel our way through my cycles.
This is why I took a gap-year before beginning college,
and also why I became injured as soon as I tried to dance again.
It took two more years
until I could move without fear.
Sometimes I scream (wild screams) in the car
where no one can hear me.
Sometimes I sit in the car
and linger in that transitional moment
between coming and going
or going and coming
doesn’t matter the order, except for
keeping the door shut.
That part matters.
Time, effort, guilt, desire
they all wait outside.
Allow me to be liminal for a moment.
I have had panic attacks.
I have hit rock bottom.
I have pushed away suicidal thoughts.
I have pulled my hair out and smacked my head.
I have cursed myself out under my breath.
These things happen.
To many people.
My mind works in spirals,
I live on an edge constantly.
The highs are so high
and the lows are so low.
I use “my” because I don’t want to speak for others
but these things happen
to many people.
Graduated college nine months ago.
I’m still most comfortable when I feel overworked,
when I physically cannot do more
and my eyes close as soon as my head hits the pillow.
So that I don’t have to think
or so feel much.
I’m shedding this.
I’ve been shedding this
and I’ll continue to shed it.
I’ve made vast improvements.
I have so much joy within me.
And I feel it often, every day.
I’ve always felt it
through the chaos.
The two co-exist and may even
support one another.
I dance because moving is the only mode
in which I can
think, remember, communicate clearly.
There is familiarity in my muscles and bones
that has come from holding my life up.
Sometimes they are heavy with my maternal lineage baggage,
--“you are not enough”—
passed down from grandmother, to mother, to me.
Deeply threated, although surfacing
(we work hand-in-hand on this).
Other times they are light
with the freedom of
--“you know who you are”—
I thank them for their patience.
My dear friend once told me that
chaos can be so productive.
I believe her.
I lean in. I feel the edges. I see myself opening.
Annie Aguilar is a dancer, doula, and movement educator from the foothills of Grass Valley, California. She holds a B.A. in neuroscience from Middlebury College in Vermont. Since moving to the Bay Area in August, Annie has performed work by Raissa Simpson, Gerald Casel, Stephanie Hewitt, and Ashley Gayle. She is an apprentice for PUSH Dance Co. and a founding member of the The Collective SF. As an artist, Annie is currently focused on the power of beginnings and the transferring of stories between generations. In the future, she would like to deepen her commitment to birth work as a midwife. Visceral Root’s invitation to collaborate on this project feels serendipitous in timing.