I went to watch a friend last night do a pole dancing performance. This is not a strip club thing, it’s a real, empowering, amazing group of hella strong and sexy women showing their hard work and dedication to a very difficult art form. Don’t judge the pole dancers, people. These women will and can kick your ass.
I had a brief life as a pole dancer. I did a play where one of the three characters I played was a pole dancer. I took classes (at the studio where my friend was performing last night) and bought a pole to practice with at home. I learned to do a short routine for the play and I was strong, stronger than I have ever been. Pole builds a lot of core strength. It also helped me come out of my shell sexually. It began a process for me that was about accepting my sexual self. A journey I am still on and still discovering. But that’s another story and another blog post.
Anyway, back to pole dancing. I sat next to my friends husband for the performance and we chatted before it began. When I had been in the pole dancing play my X-husband was very uncomfortable with the whole thing, he didn’t want to see the play. He was uncomfortable with theatre in general, although I can tell you with certainty that he did try to understand it and support my love of theatre. He tried but he was incapable of truly supporting me. He would ask me when we argued about it, “What do you want from me, I am home watching the kids, you are off doing theatre…I am supporting you. It’s hard having you gone so much. But you are doing it and I am helping you do it. What about me isn’t supporting you and theatre?” I heard many times from well meaning friends and family that it was nice of him to let me do theatre. Let. Me. Do. Theatre. It was difficult for me to express to him or anyone else what I needed and wasn’t getting. (I did two plays a year, that was our agreement. I was not doing theatre everyday of our marriage…look at me, still justifying my passion for theatre.)
I wondered how my friends husband felt about the pole dancing and about the impending public performance of pole dancing in front of a large audience, many of them men. He told me he didn’t think of pole dancing as a sexual thing and that he saw it the way his wife saw it. He saw it as hard work (hours and hours of practice at home) and a passion of hers to learn and perfect. He went on to say that he hopes she does really, really good and that she is happy with her performance. I probed him a little deeper about his feelings because it triggered in me an unexpected emotional reaction from my own marital experience. I explained that many men might try to be supportive but that the experience of watching their wives be sexual in front of an audience would make it impossible for them to be supportive even if they genuinely wanted to be. He went on to tell me that pole makes her happy and being successful at it makes her feel good and he just wants her to feel good. When she feels good about herself he is happy and they are happy together.
“It’s like theatre. It’s a performance. It’s not about sex. When she preforms well I just feel so proud of her and happy for her. I love seeing her hard work pay off.”
And then my eyes got wet and I figured it out.
I finally understood the unmet need from my married life. The desire for acceptance he could never give me.
I understood what it means to love someone in that moment. My friends husband doesn’t love pole dancing. He doesn’t care one bit about pole dancing. He cares about her. He wants her to be happy, fulfilled, and empowered.
When you are happy, I am happy.
Anything less than that isn’t enough.
Anything less than that isn’t enough.
At the end of the night we greeted her after an absolutely incredible performance and hugged and congratulated her. Her eyes were sparkling with pride and joy. She knew she had achieved her goal. She was happy.
I watched as her husband greeted her.
“You were incredible. You were so good. I am so proud of you.” His enthusiasm was heartfelt.
And a kiss.
Yes to that love.