Can You See Me?

Charley
Sep 20, 2012 from Royal Oak, Michigan, United States

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.

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MissHoneyriderI see you lovely lady. Thank you so much for this wonderful blog. Your words touch me and i so can relate to all that you wrote:)xoxo
Sep 20, 2012 from Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
chemgoddess1So many things racing through my head right now but the only one I can put down is "...and so the journey continues....."
Sep 20, 2012 from Raleigh-ish, NC, United States
Lyme LyteGreat blog!!!! Don't know what to say except great!
Sep 20, 2012 from Grand Haven, Michigan, United States
OzarkSirenThank you for sharing this.....very insightful.
Sep 20, 2012 from Arkansas, United States
PlatinumAniWow I loved reading this. Great blog and I am so glad you shared.
Sep 21, 2012 from Southern Illinois, United States
PoleHappyVekThis is a powerful story since I, as I'm sure many others, can relate to. I'm really happy for you and dare I say proud. Keep it up. That's all I can say. You are on the right path and yes, I see you.
Sep 21, 2012 from Manitoba, Canada
Bob ZamoraThis is one heartfelt, beautiful piece of self, expressed in words. If you can say things like this in words I cannot help but think that seeing you dance live has got to be stunning. I hope I get that chance someday.
Sep 22, 2012 from Westminster, Colorado, United States
FuzzyNavelI see you and I admire you! Discovering and acknowledging your own truth--good for you! I respect you very much. :)
Sep 22, 2012 from Hudson, Wisconsin, United States
poledanceromanceFortunately, Charley and Crystal share the same wicked hot ass. ;) we love you, no matter what or who you feel like on any given day.
Sep 22, 2012 from Sycamore, Illinois, United States
PoledancefanI understand the feelings behind this blog. A few months ago I was out with some of the guys I have known since college and high school. They are all incredibly successful (prosecutor, wealthy insurance agent, 2 lawyers, insanely rich banker who once picked up the entire $250 drinking and eating tab for the whole group of 6, political analyst at a think tank...etc...etc... )Their kids are matriculating at Ivy League schools, seem better raised and better bred than mine, who are messy, dramatic, and always in some crisis or another. Financially and career wise I am the least successful of this bunch. They know about my "hobby" and are never overtly critical ( I mean, they are not assholes or anything--they are a decent bunch--and well, you know how men are always giving each other shit anyway!)...but I just couldn't...and still really cannot shake the feeling that they consider me, my life, my family just vaguely sort of ridiculous and pathetic. It bugs me a lot sometimes. But I have a freedom in my life that they DON't have. I guess I've come to accept MY inner Charley and wear it on my public and outer face. The owner of Poletential, Christina, once told me that she let her "worlds collide" and whatever happened would happen. I try not to let these feelings of inauthenticity and self doubt take hold of me, but they do anyway now and then. But one advantage of getting old and seeing the limited time ahead of you is that you start to realize that once your obligations and "chores" in life are finished, you owe it to yourself to just ENJOY your life doing what yo like to do and allowing other's criticisms to fade into the distance.

For the record, I've known you long enough to feel very comfortable with both of your personas. In fact, the pole community is so full of science and engineering nerds and other kinds of geeks that it seems totally normal to me that you can silence an entire sports bar with a chair routine...but also set-up and operate a 32 channel sound board, produce a radio program, or plan an event for 500 people.

I heartily endorse the merger of the two aspects Charley and Crystal. A lot of unhappiness in life comes from fear people will "discover" things about us we'd prefer to conceal. Being honest about our "whole" persona at least relieves us of the "burden" of being "found out." It's all there on the surface and people can either like and accept it, or simply avoid forming a relationship with someone they would later reject upon "discovering" something about you they don't like.

Joel Lessing
Forest Park, Illinois
"Poledancefan"
Sep 22, 2012 from Forest Park, Illinois, United States
stoneycookJust beautiful, thank you for sharing this.
Sep 22, 2012 from South Portland, Maine, United States
NaughtyLibrarianI just want to hug you! I also have had to "merge personas" in the past and it was an excruciating, terrifying process. Luckily, it created a more "whole" self, one that was able to take the step of trying out a pole dancing class! Now that you have combined all the best qualities of both Crystal and Charley, you will be unstoppable. :)
Sep 24, 2012 from Madison, Wisconsin, United States
SaphyreWhat an inspiring story!!!!
Sep 25, 2012 from Yorkville, Illinois, United States
AerialGypsy
After moving to a place with no pole studios, I stumbled across studioveena's lessons and quickly signed up. Since getting the lessons I have progressed more than I did when I was going to a studio! Veena's knowledge is amazing!
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