It served its purpose

Pictured is me on January 30, some 8 years ago.  About to get ready for work on the right and at work at Crazy Horse III, a strip club in Las Vegas on the left. I was going through and deleting old pictures on my phone and these two stopped me in my tracks. Taken just a few hours apart, the stark contrast caught my attention and then the realization that wow,these two photos appear to depict a totally different person but in reality they represent two very whole parts of who I am.

Days were spent doing school drop-offs and pick-ups, working out at the gym or practicing yoga, preparing clean meals, reading books on spiritual growth and personal development, maybe spending time with my parents….. Nights were spent in full hair and makeup, flirting and talking to men about shit that didn’t matter, taking shots of tequila in a smoke filled club, shaking my ass and charming men out of their money.

During my time in that industry, I kept other jobs that were more in alignment with my purpose, teaching the odd dance class here and there, working part time for a nonprofit and later as fitness instructor.Perhaps that’s what allowed me to see it as a job and not a lifestyle . In the beginning I never knew whether to be flattered or offended when men would tell me I looked and sounded like I didn’t belong in the club, or questioned why I worked there as a woman coming from a healthy two parent home with a college degree.

Working as an exotic dancer was a way for me to make a lot of money in a little time. That’s it. Like many women , I stayed in the industry past when it was enjoyable to me because I had grown accustomed to the lifestyle it provided and I had plenty of financial obligations to take care of. What drew me to becoming  an exotic dancer was the money first and foremost. A Taurean woman through and through, I value stability above all else and money is a way to ensure a certain level of stability.  But honestly it was also appealing to me. I enjoyed dressing up and playing vixen, I enjoyed drinking and smoking, I enjoyed hustling, I enjoyed being onstage and being center of attention. I enjoyed going home with a fat, comforting wad of cash.

Until I didn’t.

I have never cared too much about people’s judgement about being a stripper. It was not a secret. I didn’t necessarily shout it from the mountain tops but it never was a source of shame. I did take notice about when it stopped feeling right to me. I began to feel a calling towards using my time to do something more aligned with my purpose, to start building a legacy. So I left Las Vegas, moved to Austin and began to use my professional dance training to develop programming that could help women realize that those so called darker desires aren’t shameful. To move sensually, to entice, to drink and cuss, to twerk, to present as a sexpot or a vixen…. these are all expressions of the complex beings that we are. There is power in the erotic. There is transformation in the sensual. You can explore that without being in a club environment surrounded by the male gaze.

As my one of my close sista friends says…. we are #fullasshumans.

The work that I did in the clubs informed the work that I do in the present. Yeah maybe I stayed a little too long, yeah I probably should’ve saved more money, but in retrospect I am able to see how my time in that industry served its purpose.

 

Texturizer

This was one of those pivotal moments I thought only happened in books or movies. An exact moment in time where you can pinpoint when something changed, when you knew that you would never look at things the same way.  When I opened up that cabinet under the sink and saw boxes and boxes of S Curl texturizer my emotions went from my mouth hanging open in shock to hysterical laughter to tears . I knew then that I had been looking at things through the wrong lens and while it was initially jarring, this experience provided me with a teachable moment that has served me well as I moved forward through life. Let me walk it back…..

A few weeks earlier I had received a phone call from an unknown number that had called several times  in a row before I finally picked up. An unfamiliar voice informed me that my husband was having an affair with a woman at his job,taking trips with her and bringing our 3-year-old daughter to her house. Apparently the woman calling worked there too and knew of me and felt it was her moral obligation to call me and let me know. I still think it was the woman he was seeing using a fake accent or one of her friends but I’ll never know and it really doesn’t matter. I’m skipping over a ton here but the end result was me filing for divorce. He had gotten his own “bachelor pad” and I was cleaning out any remnants that he left behind. Lucky for me the texturizer discovery came before the worst of the discoveries and believe me it got worse than a fake ass s-curl. We had had conversations in the past in which he proudly proclaimed that he had a “good grain” of hair and chuckled about it. His hair didn’t matter to me at all or have any factor in me deciding to marry him but it was something he was very proud of.

As I sat there in shock, surrounded by empty boxes of Duke and Lusters, in disbelief that this man had been lying about something so inconsequential as his hair texture it hit me that none of this was about me. Before the texturizer discovery I had been looking at this the whole situation through the lens of my ego. ” How could he do this to me? , How could this happen to me?, What did I do to deserve this?, How could not have seen this coming, Why didn’t I ever check under his side of the sink before?” In that moment, I realized just how many prior red flags I had ignored and realized that this was who he’d always been. It was never about me. This whole thing really had nothing to do with me.  That’s when the uncontrollable laughter began. I was struck by the hilarity of it all…. there was no way I was gonna let a dude who was secretly chemically altering his hair make me question myself anymore. Then the tears began because it wasn’t just about me. We had a daughter together and although things had come into focus for me, she was a little girl who loved her daddy and I was sad about the fact that everything was changing for her in ways she was too young to fully understand.

I threw out the empty boxes and got on with the planning of this new altered vision for my life with a new understanding. When subsequent discoveries came, much more troubling than texturizer, I was able to navigate with a clearer head. In no way am I saying that I never again felt pain, anger , sadness or even disbelief but I had stopped relating everything back to me. Honestly, I had little time to consider the why’s or how’s, and even less time to attend the pity party. I had a mortgage that was going unpaid, a daughter in private school, a divorce attorney charging billable hours and one income. The texturizer moment allowed me to separate myself from what was happening to me. I stopped taking things so personally and was able to move forward in a matter of fact way. I’d be lying if I said I never again took anything personally from that point forward but there was a major change in perspective from the time I sat surrounded by empty boxes of texturizer laughing and crying like a crazy person.