Tonight is the night! I am shivering with antici … [say it! say it!] …pation for my performance at the Michigan Burlesque Festival this weekend. Miigweetch to all of youse who have been following along with me this week as I discussed my costume and the many wonderful individuals whose talents have helped bring my vision for a Queen Elsa “Frozen” burlesque act to fruition.
Before the raunchy celebration that is festival weekend begins, I’d like to take a moment to share with youse what this act and song mean to me, personally.
I know a number of youse are parents of small children, and even for those of you who have none, you may have had your fill of the iconic song. It is a personal tragedy of mine that my own sister absolutely detests “Let It Go”; I managed to get her to watch my act once and her starter comment was, “Fantastic dance-such a pity it’s set to such a terrible song!” But I digress.
It might help those in my audience who dislike the song to know that when I am performing to it, I am thinking about my post traumatic stress disorder [PTSD].
For those of you who don’t know, I am a veteran of the United States Navy. I was in an accident that left me with a plethora of injuries. I blew out both of my knees and suffered a traumatic brain injury from the impact of smacking my head against a steel bulkhead. I was told I would probably never walk without assistance again. While I was recovering, I was sexually harassed by my shipmates, which resulted in me breaking my hip, and I made the mistake of reporting it to my commanding officer.
Without getting too deep into it, after weeks of abuse and neglect from my command [and before I was healed], I was administratively discharged; this means I received no GI post-9/11 bill [i.e. no money for college], stipend, or medical care from the VA.
It is perhaps not surprising that I suffer from post traumatic stress, even today. Broken both physically and mentally, and unable to work, the period after my military service was one of the darkest in my life. My body was a prison. I could not walk or even breath without pain. With no insurance or job, I had little hope of improving my situation. More than once, I seriously considered taking my life. If this was to be it, I didn’t want it.
The winter of 2013 was particularly bad for me. I am from Up North, where we have always had brutal winters, but nothing prepared me for the polar vortex that was to come. My body was reacting very poorly to the cold, my mobility was even more limited than normal, and I was just all around miserable. Nothing seemed to help my morale; I couldn’t escape the feeling of being trapped in my circumstance, that my situation was never going to improve. I was broke and feeling broken.
I’ve always enjoyed animation and Disney movies. Somehow, the buzz surrounding the release of “Frozen” missed me though, until a friend shared it with me one evening. The scene with “Let It Go” came on. I teared up listening to the lyrics; this was me! I think I re-wound Elsa’s mountaintop song scene at least six times before I allowed us to continue with the movie. The song became an armor of sorts; I would repeat my new mantra whenever the world felt like it was closing in on me.
It was great, but by no means a cure-all. My problems were big, and more than a few whimsical lyrics could solve. My lifeline came that spring when I attended a powwow in Algonac and connected with the American Indian Health and Family Services Center. I found out I was eligible for services through them and began to see a therapist to help me with my PTSD. As I walked away from their booth after talking up the outreach worker, my body felt lighter; I could breath. I wasn’t alone anymore! I started therapy immediately and have never looked back. Going to therapy gave me the strength to leave an abusive relationship with an alcoholic partner [who was deliberately triggering my PTSD and gas-lighting me] and I learned coping skills that I used to deal with the fallout that happened from leaving said abusive relationship.
Had I not found them, I know in my heart of hearts that things would have turned out much differently for me; AIHFS literally saved my life.
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“Frozen” was essentially a metaphor for a closeted person learning to love herself and everyone adored it. When I dance to “Let It Go,” I reflect on all that has happened to me, and I am proud of who I am and who I am becoming. I remind myself not to give up, and to just let it go ❤
But that’s just, like, my opinion, man. Mi’iwi [that’s all] ❤