As dancers, we are often burdened with the task of making something beautiful. We don’t always let on that there is pain behind the creation of our work. We perform. Behind the smiles, we’re carrying a heavy load. There are times when the toll is taxing. And yet, time after time, my art gives me life. It defines who I am. Dancing keeps me both grounded and lifted. It helps me see the beauty in my relationships and heal from the harmful ones. No matter what, I always whisper, “And still I dance,” while healing. 

The Journey To Healing

The hardest part of healing, physically or emotionally, is not to let yourself get caught up in your feelings to the point that it clouds your future vision. This is why your rearview and side-view mirrors are small on your car. You glance back now and then, but those places shouldn’t be your focus. You can’t drive straight ahead while trying to look behind you. My son’s father is in my rearview. 

Chrisala shares her single motherhood story

No matter how handsome I thought he was, I learned to focus on my future, not the gorgeous, chocolate man who stood tall, walked proudly, and spoke in a deep, convincing voice. He drove a car, almost as lovely and sleek as he. The car impressed me, but the road was rocky. He took me on uphill battles, always ending the trip with, “Babe, let’s work this out. Relationships take work.” 

In my rearview, I saw lies and psychological plays. I saw other women, including his wife. I saw nine other children raised by different mothers, perhaps with similar stories. I saw hatred.

I Realized I’d Be a Solo Mom While Dancing

It was during my fifth month of pregnancy that I had an epiphany. I felt my son’s father wouldn’t be there for us. I was pretty sure of that. That moment came during a dance performance. Throughout our relationship, I danced with the same company. Dancing was my passion. The company was my community. They became my family after my parents gave me the silent treatment. There I was, getting ready to walk onto a stage before a sold-out house, whispering to myself, “And still I dance.” 

I danced as I had never danced before. I danced in celebration of my life and the life I was carrying. I listened to my womb and followed my child’s movements. The rhythmic sound of the drums comforted both my baby and me. The rhythm was like a heartbeat, giving me life.

The community dance company was my family, my village. They helped raise my child from the womb to his first smiles, words, steps, dances, and drums. 

My Son’s Father Missed That Performance

He said he had to work, despite my giving him advance notice. I knew that people make time for what they want to make time for. He liked the benefits of a slim, fit body to lay next to, but that was about all. I knew what lay ahead of us. I knew our relationship would end, just like the drums that ended the show. 

As our child’s heartbeat got stronger, my will got stronger.

Our son was four months old when our journey ended. It was two years into our relationship. At five months pregnant, my son’s father disappeared for an entire month. And during the pregnancy, he never showed up for doctor’s appointments or helped set up the nursery. He didn’t do anything unless you count stressing me out. He took an emotional toll on my life, making my parents almost disown me. My father was a minister and didn’t know who I was becoming. 

I have very traditional parents. Father, a minister. Mom, his support. My mother was always there, though she sometimes didn’t know what to say to me. My father expected me to be a virgin up until marriage. The thought that, even at 29 years old, I would become pregnant by someone who they felt was unworthy was a hard pill for them to swallow. 

Facing The Truth & Healing

I confronted these truths head-on. I then found out about his wife, children, and other lives. All of the emotions I felt were new. All of the choices I made were new.  I headed in a different direction. And it was at this crossroads my healing work began. Healing is not for the faint of heart. The decision to close chapters with no regrets; burning the bridges, not because you’re insensitive, uncaring, or bitter, but because you have to consciously decide to let that shit go. 

So I embarked on a new journey. I decided to acknowledge my truths–the parts of my soul that gave me joy, sadness, euphoria, and pain. I sought my balance. I sought my path. I sought a brighter future and an awareness of myself. Healing started with knowing my destiny is mapped out just for me.

I discovered that healing is not an argument about disloyal Black men. It’s not about who is to blame or who is dishonest. It’s not about finding ways to hold emotions hostage while one decides how one wants their life to be. So when I saw him nine years after the birth of our child, I wanted to scream. I wanted to cry. I wanted to push him away and not look back. But I didn’t. My stomach tightened. My palms were sweaty. But, the power within me reminded me this is a temporary feeling.  

Chrisala BrownMy Healing 

My healing journey took me in another direction. (Even though my friends joked and said they had bail money!) I’ve learned that relationships shouldn’t cause you pain. I’ve learned to hold space for those I truly love. I’ve learned not to speak ill of my son’s father. I’ve learned to hand it over to the Creator.

It has been almost fourteen years now. My son is taller than me. He’s a wonderful student. His dad’s ex-wife and I see each other from time to time, and we’re open about how our relationships with him impacted us. Our kids know each other and resemble each other. My child knows of his father but does not know his father. His dad has made no effort to reach out and is probably somewhere living his best life. But guess what? So are we! 

Chrisala's son describes his mom as fun.

And Still I Dance

I’m still dancing. I’ve chosen dance as my profession, so everything I do revolves around my knowledge of dance. I’m still in the same studio, on the stage, and for the past couple of years, I’ve been part of a research team using dance to study cognitive brain health. 

Chrisala Brown And Still I Dance My son joins me every now and then. He’s not so much a performer. He’s more into sports at this point in his life. But, every now and then, he reminds me that he’s aware of the vocabulary and music that he grew around. Many of the people who are members of the dance company are moms, and our children grew up together, whether they danced or not. Dancing is still my passion. 

And still I dance.

By: Chrisala Brown

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