It's been ages since I wrote anything, even something simple. I was going through a total creative block that was keeping me trapped in my head with my own thoughts that traveled so rampantly to and fro I could not grasp a single concept.
Since February of this year I started falling deep within myself, submerged with my own angst, sadness and questions about what I was doing, why I was doing it and who I was doing it for. While drowning in myself, life decided it would not stay on hold and kept throwing curve balls, just one after another. I watched myself recede and for the first time in my life, I let myself fade away into the darkness. I chose not to fight it no matter what the consequences would be because I had never given into it before, perhaps that's what I needed. I evaporated. It was nice. It made me feel safe. How? How can evaporating into your own sadness feel safe? Because, the only way to truly understand the depth of the pain I was feeling was to go inside of it and FEEL it, be it, allow it.
I stopped teaching for the most part, I stopped dancing, I stopped performing, I stopped filming or adding much the community. I started questioning the community. I started seeing things that didn't add up, that didn't feel empowering within us. I saw diversion and things that quite frankly spoke to me as being the exact opposite of empowering and uniting. I cannot even put a finger on a singular incident that made me feel that way, I think it was an overall look at everything from local communities to the grand scale world view of pole and across the board I began to wonder if we were over empowering people and thus somehow promoting this bad behaviour. This thought left a really bad taste in my mouth as you can imagine.
Along this journey of searching within myself and looking at the larger picture, I began to feel fraudulent. I began to feel invisible behind this woman named Charley. This woman I created over 5 years ago as a place to go where I could pole, be accepted and have some anonymity. She was never supposed to become a real girl, she was never supposed to be anything but a name on a screen. Then the community grew and so did she. She became the person I could hide behind and do things I never thought possible like perform a pole dance in public, teach a sexy class, BE sexy, wear stripper shoes, produce shows for every day women, give them a voice...she became the person I could never be. She was like a winter coat and I put her on every time I left the house. Charley, oh how comfortable Charley felt! She is everything I want to be, although she could stand to be a little stronger and more aggressive, however inspite of those flaws, she's given me the world and let's face it, mousey little Crystal was her backbone - so she didn't have much to work with. The thing is, this isn't Charley's journey, it's Crystal's. Crystal wasn't able to move forward because she was letting Charley do it. Charley was safe and loved, 2 things Crystal had not had much success in finding. Crystal easily rolled and let Charley do the talking because for the first time in her life Crystal felt a real sense of acceptance, so what if she had to let Charley be the one to get it.
There became times that Charley and Crystal intertwined their beings, those incidents became more and more frequent. At one point in time my facebook name was "Charley Pole." I remember the day I married myself to my "Charley." I sat their looking at facebook and it said "Charley Pole likes this." Whose last name is Pole? I ask you? Then I decided that I would no longer be defined by the pole that I wanted to define IT. I suppose the marriage also came to be because there were those who called "Charley" Crystal and I thought to myself - you don't know her, please don't call me that. Some people who claimed to know "ME" but truly didn't even understand the tip of the iceberg. I realized then that Crystal was being suffocated by Charley because she felt safe and Charley was just another wall to hide behind. By marrying the 2 women to become one I was able to share some of the ridiculousness that is Crystal, the raw vulnerable girl who was picked on, never pretty enough, who had - at best a - tumultuous relationship with her mother, adores her father, is a crazy cat lady, has always been in love with the same man since she was 20, the girl who studied and did well in school, read books, the girl who cried once when her father made her look in the mirror and see herself...THAT girl. When I became "Charley Crystal" the world seemed a little more right to me, though scary because there was so much less hiding.
Then came a day where Charley was no longer safe. She was demonized into a bullying villain. The safe place I built was no longer safe and that's why I receded. If I couldn't be safe as Charley - where could I be safe? Where could I go and be accepted and loved? Why was Charley suddenly so misunderstood? Was it because she and Crystal were merging? Was it because I finally began to truly have a sense of self appreciation? The moment things got bad was the moment I stopped giving, no matter who I was at that time. The moment I could no longer GIVE FREELY and needed to think about myself was the moment it all fell apart. It was interesting because during this time Crystal wanted to defend and hold Charley - tell her it was all okay - but how can you do that when you are the same person? I wanted to thank Charley for everything that she had given me! She was the reason I had been able to do so many things! I think that's when Crystal actually grew a set and decided it was time for HER to protect Charley and honor the journey that Charley put her on...Crystal started showing up to the party a hell of a lot more.
So you're reading this and thinking, wow, schizophrenia, anyone? No. I realize these 2 names are simply 2 parts of a single person who needed each identity to find a single person. There is something so safe and freeing about having an alter ego, I, to this day believe in creating that safe persona to be and do all the things your heart desires. At a certain point, at least for me, I needed to marry them in order to find the love and acceptance I so desired. I needed to see that a persona is not a impenetrable wall of safety - eventually heart ache and pain will find that persona and devour it. I also had to realize that this creature Charley growing within me, the creature that ate me up, was me the whole time. It wasn't because Charley was a pole dancer, in fact pole had little do with it outside of serving as a vehicle for self growth, it was because Charley was a better vision of me and I was able to rise up and meet her, because of her.
Last month I did something I have never done before, I merged my identities into one story and shared with the world - okay a few hundred people, still felt like the world - the story of 2 women growing within one body and at the end of that story both personas want the same thing and infact one persona was CREATED to find it - self love, self worth, self acceptance inspite of my many imperfections, just at the end of the day being good would simply be enough. And it was.
Some have asked if I was going to put Charley away. My answer - NEVER. She's still the part of me that makes me feel more confident, can walk into a room and take charge, organize an event, dance on a stage - I think the difference now is that Crystal isn't being swallowed up by this singular character so perhaps Charley is the dancer and Crystal is the woman. Someone very special to me once wrote in my bio "Crystal, affectionately known as Charley."
So, my name is Crystal, I hope that I am affectionately known as Charley, that my self given nickname will continue to coexist, and that I will be seen.