I felt shell shocked. M.I.A.from my own life. I lost all sense of time and space. The only thing giving me any semblance of purpose was an overbooked schedule of teaching Pilates, giving massages and performing. Oh, plus my standing appointment with a glass of wine (or 2) to end my day. Without those things connecting the dots of my existence, I was merely drifting through life and navigating through my hectic schedule on auto-pilot. My routine began with the jarring sound of my alarm clock, followed by my morning mantra of, “I hate my fucking life!” before rolling out of bed to take a whore bath in the kitchen sink of my Lower East Side tenement apartment. I’d routinely put on my Pilates instructor uniform of matchy-matchy Lululemon athletic wear and MBT sneakers designed to improve your gait while simultaneously lifting and toning your booty. I walked briskly downtown to the Tribeca Pilates studio for my first client at 7am.
As much as my body had mastered this routine, my emotions were functioning on the same auto-pilot. The tears flowed in concert with my booty lifting, sneaker-assisted perfect gait all the way to work. I knew the tears should be coupled with emotion but, instead, I felt vacant. I felt no pain, sadness, hurt or anger. It was as if my body knew it deserved to grieve but my heart hadn’t caught up yet. I’d routinely find myself saying “It’s okay, Keex. Everything will be o-kay” like I was coddling a helpless, crying child. Upon approaching the front door of the Pilates studio, I’d wipe away the tears, throw on my happy face and a matchy-matchy positive attitude. I wondered if my guise was transparent. Could my clients look into my eyes and assess the truth of my situation? Or did they believe my stories at face value about moving back to NYC simply because I just missed the pulse, the pace and the culture? Or, how blessed and excited I was to have booked an amazing Off-Broadway show? Or, how happy I was to live closer to my family and closest friends? I explained that, although Los Angeles had great weather, it was vapid.
Could they see beyond those truths and catch a glimpse of me, the rejected wife, as I methodically spewed out cues to “scoop your powerhouse in & up”? Could they sense that my husband had a drunken one-night stand which spiraled into a 7-month sentence of harboring a lie that would eventually end our marriage and annihilate my ability to trust anyone? Did they secretly think that I was stupid for not knowing in my gut that my EX was a cheater? Did they pity me for being the only woman without that inherent 6th sense? Did they feel sorry for me because, in a matter of 30 days, I had moved from a 3-story Los Angeles condo into a Lower East Side hovel where I did my bathing and cooking in the same room? Did they know that, within those 30 days, I also had to dissolve a business on the brink of success, quit my job managing a Pilates studio at Equinox Fitness and say goodbye to massage clients I’d had as long as my marriage? Did they know how much I agonized over whether to sustain happy memories of us in the form of photos; our outdoor New England wedding, our Mexican honeymoon, the Gloria Estefan tour we danced on together, our summer in Long Beach when we performed in an aerial show, 8 Christmases, equal birthday celebrations, family reunions etc? Did they know that my life had crumbled beneath my feet and that, as much as they needed my help to create the bodies they wanted, they were my life line; my reason for getting up in the morning when what I really wanted to do was disappear in the rubble, never to be seen or heard from again.
The middle of the day was always the same too. I’d return to my LES hovel, prepare the exact same daily salad, fail at my attempt to nap and then throw on my MBT sneakers for another tearful but booty-lifting walk uptown to the theater. Here, I could be more transparent. I didn’t have to wipe away the tears and feign happiness. The dressing room was my comfort zone; familiar territory. I was with my “sister-friends” who allowed me to seek solace amongst them without necessarily having anything to offer in return. I was in need of company, but not necessarily the most jovial companion. I wasn’t the Keex they used to know. This former life-loving, loquacious, upbeat and positive Gemini was now content existing in silence and on the periphery.
There were some days that I couldn’t wait to perform. It was my opportunity to live outside of myself and exist in an alternate reality where I felt strong and powerful with super-human qualities. It was a place where I also felt vulnerable, soft and willing to surrender to the moment. Yet other days, my brain narrated, doubted and criticized each and every move I made; comparing myself to others and questioning the value of my contribution to this hit show. Sometimes, performing felt like a life-threatening game of survival, just like my daily reality. I couldn’t wait to somehow get through it. No matter what happened, I always had the comfort of the bottle of wine that awaited patiently to help me take the edge off. I thought performing would take the edge off. Sometimes it did. But oftentimes my body, mind and spirit felt numb and inaccessible. I felt ungrounded and scared; oftentimes unable to feel my feet. I felt like a danger to myself with almost every show but had to prove to myself that I could survive despite the odds against me; my physical and emotional numbness, my self-criticism and my self-doubt. “Performer” was my identity long before meeting my EX. And I wanted to get back to being myself.