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Learning about failure through moving my body

Photo / Getty Images

I was at the gym once, flopped over in the mat area in some sweaty semblance of a child’s pose, when a man ripped out my earbuds and said I should do yoga properly or not at all. 

I didn’t understand why he cared so much what I did with my body but I believed him. I wasn’t really trying to do yoga but how dare I take up space if I couldn’t do something properly? 

The man moved on to look at his muscles in the mirror and then I went and cried in the bathroom and never went back -  despite having nine months left on my contract. 

Growing up, I hated exercising so much that I would lie and cry to get out of it. To get me to walk the 10 minutes to primary school Mum would chase me down our hill with a big stick. Just the threat of it worked. Sometimes. Other times I would throw a tantrum on the living room floor and scream “I hate you” at her until she ordered a taxi.

In my home, books and TV reigned over sport. I’ve still never watched a rugby game. Mum left school in fifth form and wanted me to have the education she didn’t. As a result I was a book-nerd. A proud teacher's pet. I understood the language of doing well at school: read books, be nice, don’t fail. 

I didn’t, however, understand sport and so it frightened me. I spent my time in my head, not my body, and that felt safe.

As I grew into a teenager, my unruly body felt hot and sticky all the time. It had a tummy and thighs that touched and it didn’t look like the body of the girls I knew who played sports. 

Girls who played sports had flat tummies with belly-button piercings. Girls who played sports had skinny legs which meant that they could wear skinny jeans. Girls who played sports wore g-strings and waxed their legs and kissed boys. Girls who played sports were hot. I was not. My body needed to be contained unless it could perform in a way that made it desirable. Until then, it would only let me down. 

In high school PE, I didn’t understand the rules of anything. I was petrified of being hit by a flying ball, believing that it could kill me or, at least, that it would expose me for the unfit and uncool dweeb that I was when I failed to catch it.

Sometimes I would accidentally be the last person standing in dodgeball because I had spent the whole game as close to the sidelines, avoiding the ball and trying to make myself as invisible as possible. Another time I told the PE teacher, Mr King, who had a handlebar moustache and bred alpacas with his mum in his spare time, that I had forgotten a tampon and so couldn’t play when I hadn’t even had a period yet. 

When I was 16, I had a crush on a boy who often played ultimate frisbee in the park by my house. I had never been kissed and wanted to know what it was like for someone to like me. 

One of the girls who played sports said if you wanted to lose weight you had to exercise four times a week. So I started doing that. I also stopped eating sugar and carbs and lost a lot of weight quickly. I would run through the park where my crush was, hoping he would lock eyes on my shrinking body and want to kiss me. He didn’t but I enjoyed the light dizziness that came with being a bit hungry all the time and that when I wore skinny jeans to school people told me they looked good. I felt validated and like I had figured out how to contain my body. 

I had to keep it up though: the moment I let go I would only unravel and be exposed for the unruly, sticky and uncoordinated fool I felt I was.

A couple of years ago I decided to see what it was like if I approached exercise as a way to manage my anxiety, not my body. 

I found a personal trainer, one who told me I was doing great all the time. We got on well and he convinced me to join his social netball team even though I had never successfully shot a ball into a hoop. Every Tuesday night, before the game, I would want to cancel. More than enough times I did. 

Around the same time I started therapy to process the time I was five and another man touched me and then told me it was my fault and my body’s impulses were wrong. Soon, I started cancelling on netball less. I saw that sometimes other people dropped the ball too and other times I caught it like them. 

I still didn’t try to shoot a hoop but there didn’t seem to be any relationship between me playing and us losing - sometimes we even won. I learnt that failing did not have to equate with pain or shame and I could in fact see it as an attempt to learn and get better at something. I started looking forward to the game each week.

Through my therapist I started a trauma-sensitive yoga course. I didn’t know what that meant but the title felt appropriate. 

The teacher started the first Zoom class by giving us permission to move our body as we wanted to: “These poses are a guide but you can do whatever you want with them”,  she said. “Some people just sleep the whole class and that is perfectly fine. It’s your body”. 

It was a completely foreign idea to me. I had never thought to ask my body how it wanted to move. I didn’t know I could. 

I thought about that man when I was five and the man in the gym. I wondered how much the way I had moved through the world had been to appease others. How much was my fear of failure in exercise associated with a fear of being unsafe? 

I turned my camera off and spent the next hour of class cackling and flopping my body around my room just as I wanted to. Half-assed child's pose and all.

No items found.
Photo / Getty Images

I was at the gym once, flopped over in the mat area in some sweaty semblance of a child’s pose, when a man ripped out my earbuds and said I should do yoga properly or not at all. 

I didn’t understand why he cared so much what I did with my body but I believed him. I wasn’t really trying to do yoga but how dare I take up space if I couldn’t do something properly? 

The man moved on to look at his muscles in the mirror and then I went and cried in the bathroom and never went back -  despite having nine months left on my contract. 

Growing up, I hated exercising so much that I would lie and cry to get out of it. To get me to walk the 10 minutes to primary school Mum would chase me down our hill with a big stick. Just the threat of it worked. Sometimes. Other times I would throw a tantrum on the living room floor and scream “I hate you” at her until she ordered a taxi.

In my home, books and TV reigned over sport. I’ve still never watched a rugby game. Mum left school in fifth form and wanted me to have the education she didn’t. As a result I was a book-nerd. A proud teacher's pet. I understood the language of doing well at school: read books, be nice, don’t fail. 

I didn’t, however, understand sport and so it frightened me. I spent my time in my head, not my body, and that felt safe.

As I grew into a teenager, my unruly body felt hot and sticky all the time. It had a tummy and thighs that touched and it didn’t look like the body of the girls I knew who played sports. 

Girls who played sports had flat tummies with belly-button piercings. Girls who played sports had skinny legs which meant that they could wear skinny jeans. Girls who played sports wore g-strings and waxed their legs and kissed boys. Girls who played sports were hot. I was not. My body needed to be contained unless it could perform in a way that made it desirable. Until then, it would only let me down. 

In high school PE, I didn’t understand the rules of anything. I was petrified of being hit by a flying ball, believing that it could kill me or, at least, that it would expose me for the unfit and uncool dweeb that I was when I failed to catch it.

Sometimes I would accidentally be the last person standing in dodgeball because I had spent the whole game as close to the sidelines, avoiding the ball and trying to make myself as invisible as possible. Another time I told the PE teacher, Mr King, who had a handlebar moustache and bred alpacas with his mum in his spare time, that I had forgotten a tampon and so couldn’t play when I hadn’t even had a period yet. 

When I was 16, I had a crush on a boy who often played ultimate frisbee in the park by my house. I had never been kissed and wanted to know what it was like for someone to like me. 

One of the girls who played sports said if you wanted to lose weight you had to exercise four times a week. So I started doing that. I also stopped eating sugar and carbs and lost a lot of weight quickly. I would run through the park where my crush was, hoping he would lock eyes on my shrinking body and want to kiss me. He didn’t but I enjoyed the light dizziness that came with being a bit hungry all the time and that when I wore skinny jeans to school people told me they looked good. I felt validated and like I had figured out how to contain my body. 

I had to keep it up though: the moment I let go I would only unravel and be exposed for the unruly, sticky and uncoordinated fool I felt I was.

A couple of years ago I decided to see what it was like if I approached exercise as a way to manage my anxiety, not my body. 

I found a personal trainer, one who told me I was doing great all the time. We got on well and he convinced me to join his social netball team even though I had never successfully shot a ball into a hoop. Every Tuesday night, before the game, I would want to cancel. More than enough times I did. 

Around the same time I started therapy to process the time I was five and another man touched me and then told me it was my fault and my body’s impulses were wrong. Soon, I started cancelling on netball less. I saw that sometimes other people dropped the ball too and other times I caught it like them. 

I still didn’t try to shoot a hoop but there didn’t seem to be any relationship between me playing and us losing - sometimes we even won. I learnt that failing did not have to equate with pain or shame and I could in fact see it as an attempt to learn and get better at something. I started looking forward to the game each week.

Through my therapist I started a trauma-sensitive yoga course. I didn’t know what that meant but the title felt appropriate. 

The teacher started the first Zoom class by giving us permission to move our body as we wanted to: “These poses are a guide but you can do whatever you want with them”,  she said. “Some people just sleep the whole class and that is perfectly fine. It’s your body”. 

It was a completely foreign idea to me. I had never thought to ask my body how it wanted to move. I didn’t know I could. 

I thought about that man when I was five and the man in the gym. I wondered how much the way I had moved through the world had been to appease others. How much was my fear of failure in exercise associated with a fear of being unsafe? 

I turned my camera off and spent the next hour of class cackling and flopping my body around my room just as I wanted to. Half-assed child's pose and all.

Creativity, evocative visual storytelling and good journalism come at a price. Support our work and join the Ensemble membership program
No items found.

Learning about failure through moving my body

Photo / Getty Images

I was at the gym once, flopped over in the mat area in some sweaty semblance of a child’s pose, when a man ripped out my earbuds and said I should do yoga properly or not at all. 

I didn’t understand why he cared so much what I did with my body but I believed him. I wasn’t really trying to do yoga but how dare I take up space if I couldn’t do something properly? 

The man moved on to look at his muscles in the mirror and then I went and cried in the bathroom and never went back -  despite having nine months left on my contract. 

Growing up, I hated exercising so much that I would lie and cry to get out of it. To get me to walk the 10 minutes to primary school Mum would chase me down our hill with a big stick. Just the threat of it worked. Sometimes. Other times I would throw a tantrum on the living room floor and scream “I hate you” at her until she ordered a taxi.

In my home, books and TV reigned over sport. I’ve still never watched a rugby game. Mum left school in fifth form and wanted me to have the education she didn’t. As a result I was a book-nerd. A proud teacher's pet. I understood the language of doing well at school: read books, be nice, don’t fail. 

I didn’t, however, understand sport and so it frightened me. I spent my time in my head, not my body, and that felt safe.

As I grew into a teenager, my unruly body felt hot and sticky all the time. It had a tummy and thighs that touched and it didn’t look like the body of the girls I knew who played sports. 

Girls who played sports had flat tummies with belly-button piercings. Girls who played sports had skinny legs which meant that they could wear skinny jeans. Girls who played sports wore g-strings and waxed their legs and kissed boys. Girls who played sports were hot. I was not. My body needed to be contained unless it could perform in a way that made it desirable. Until then, it would only let me down. 

In high school PE, I didn’t understand the rules of anything. I was petrified of being hit by a flying ball, believing that it could kill me or, at least, that it would expose me for the unfit and uncool dweeb that I was when I failed to catch it.

Sometimes I would accidentally be the last person standing in dodgeball because I had spent the whole game as close to the sidelines, avoiding the ball and trying to make myself as invisible as possible. Another time I told the PE teacher, Mr King, who had a handlebar moustache and bred alpacas with his mum in his spare time, that I had forgotten a tampon and so couldn’t play when I hadn’t even had a period yet. 

When I was 16, I had a crush on a boy who often played ultimate frisbee in the park by my house. I had never been kissed and wanted to know what it was like for someone to like me. 

One of the girls who played sports said if you wanted to lose weight you had to exercise four times a week. So I started doing that. I also stopped eating sugar and carbs and lost a lot of weight quickly. I would run through the park where my crush was, hoping he would lock eyes on my shrinking body and want to kiss me. He didn’t but I enjoyed the light dizziness that came with being a bit hungry all the time and that when I wore skinny jeans to school people told me they looked good. I felt validated and like I had figured out how to contain my body. 

I had to keep it up though: the moment I let go I would only unravel and be exposed for the unruly, sticky and uncoordinated fool I felt I was.

A couple of years ago I decided to see what it was like if I approached exercise as a way to manage my anxiety, not my body. 

I found a personal trainer, one who told me I was doing great all the time. We got on well and he convinced me to join his social netball team even though I had never successfully shot a ball into a hoop. Every Tuesday night, before the game, I would want to cancel. More than enough times I did. 

Around the same time I started therapy to process the time I was five and another man touched me and then told me it was my fault and my body’s impulses were wrong. Soon, I started cancelling on netball less. I saw that sometimes other people dropped the ball too and other times I caught it like them. 

I still didn’t try to shoot a hoop but there didn’t seem to be any relationship between me playing and us losing - sometimes we even won. I learnt that failing did not have to equate with pain or shame and I could in fact see it as an attempt to learn and get better at something. I started looking forward to the game each week.

Through my therapist I started a trauma-sensitive yoga course. I didn’t know what that meant but the title felt appropriate. 

The teacher started the first Zoom class by giving us permission to move our body as we wanted to: “These poses are a guide but you can do whatever you want with them”,  she said. “Some people just sleep the whole class and that is perfectly fine. It’s your body”. 

It was a completely foreign idea to me. I had never thought to ask my body how it wanted to move. I didn’t know I could. 

I thought about that man when I was five and the man in the gym. I wondered how much the way I had moved through the world had been to appease others. How much was my fear of failure in exercise associated with a fear of being unsafe? 

I turned my camera off and spent the next hour of class cackling and flopping my body around my room just as I wanted to. Half-assed child's pose and all.

Creativity, evocative visual storytelling and good journalism come at a price. Support our work and join the Ensemble membership program
No items found.

Learning about failure through moving my body

Photo / Getty Images

I was at the gym once, flopped over in the mat area in some sweaty semblance of a child’s pose, when a man ripped out my earbuds and said I should do yoga properly or not at all. 

I didn’t understand why he cared so much what I did with my body but I believed him. I wasn’t really trying to do yoga but how dare I take up space if I couldn’t do something properly? 

The man moved on to look at his muscles in the mirror and then I went and cried in the bathroom and never went back -  despite having nine months left on my contract. 

Growing up, I hated exercising so much that I would lie and cry to get out of it. To get me to walk the 10 minutes to primary school Mum would chase me down our hill with a big stick. Just the threat of it worked. Sometimes. Other times I would throw a tantrum on the living room floor and scream “I hate you” at her until she ordered a taxi.

In my home, books and TV reigned over sport. I’ve still never watched a rugby game. Mum left school in fifth form and wanted me to have the education she didn’t. As a result I was a book-nerd. A proud teacher's pet. I understood the language of doing well at school: read books, be nice, don’t fail. 

I didn’t, however, understand sport and so it frightened me. I spent my time in my head, not my body, and that felt safe.

As I grew into a teenager, my unruly body felt hot and sticky all the time. It had a tummy and thighs that touched and it didn’t look like the body of the girls I knew who played sports. 

Girls who played sports had flat tummies with belly-button piercings. Girls who played sports had skinny legs which meant that they could wear skinny jeans. Girls who played sports wore g-strings and waxed their legs and kissed boys. Girls who played sports were hot. I was not. My body needed to be contained unless it could perform in a way that made it desirable. Until then, it would only let me down. 

In high school PE, I didn’t understand the rules of anything. I was petrified of being hit by a flying ball, believing that it could kill me or, at least, that it would expose me for the unfit and uncool dweeb that I was when I failed to catch it.

Sometimes I would accidentally be the last person standing in dodgeball because I had spent the whole game as close to the sidelines, avoiding the ball and trying to make myself as invisible as possible. Another time I told the PE teacher, Mr King, who had a handlebar moustache and bred alpacas with his mum in his spare time, that I had forgotten a tampon and so couldn’t play when I hadn’t even had a period yet. 

When I was 16, I had a crush on a boy who often played ultimate frisbee in the park by my house. I had never been kissed and wanted to know what it was like for someone to like me. 

One of the girls who played sports said if you wanted to lose weight you had to exercise four times a week. So I started doing that. I also stopped eating sugar and carbs and lost a lot of weight quickly. I would run through the park where my crush was, hoping he would lock eyes on my shrinking body and want to kiss me. He didn’t but I enjoyed the light dizziness that came with being a bit hungry all the time and that when I wore skinny jeans to school people told me they looked good. I felt validated and like I had figured out how to contain my body. 

I had to keep it up though: the moment I let go I would only unravel and be exposed for the unruly, sticky and uncoordinated fool I felt I was.

A couple of years ago I decided to see what it was like if I approached exercise as a way to manage my anxiety, not my body. 

I found a personal trainer, one who told me I was doing great all the time. We got on well and he convinced me to join his social netball team even though I had never successfully shot a ball into a hoop. Every Tuesday night, before the game, I would want to cancel. More than enough times I did. 

Around the same time I started therapy to process the time I was five and another man touched me and then told me it was my fault and my body’s impulses were wrong. Soon, I started cancelling on netball less. I saw that sometimes other people dropped the ball too and other times I caught it like them. 

I still didn’t try to shoot a hoop but there didn’t seem to be any relationship between me playing and us losing - sometimes we even won. I learnt that failing did not have to equate with pain or shame and I could in fact see it as an attempt to learn and get better at something. I started looking forward to the game each week.

Through my therapist I started a trauma-sensitive yoga course. I didn’t know what that meant but the title felt appropriate. 

The teacher started the first Zoom class by giving us permission to move our body as we wanted to: “These poses are a guide but you can do whatever you want with them”,  she said. “Some people just sleep the whole class and that is perfectly fine. It’s your body”. 

It was a completely foreign idea to me. I had never thought to ask my body how it wanted to move. I didn’t know I could. 

I thought about that man when I was five and the man in the gym. I wondered how much the way I had moved through the world had been to appease others. How much was my fear of failure in exercise associated with a fear of being unsafe? 

I turned my camera off and spent the next hour of class cackling and flopping my body around my room just as I wanted to. Half-assed child's pose and all.

Creativity, evocative visual storytelling and good journalism come at a price. Support our work and join the Ensemble membership program
No items found.
Photo / Getty Images

I was at the gym once, flopped over in the mat area in some sweaty semblance of a child’s pose, when a man ripped out my earbuds and said I should do yoga properly or not at all. 

I didn’t understand why he cared so much what I did with my body but I believed him. I wasn’t really trying to do yoga but how dare I take up space if I couldn’t do something properly? 

The man moved on to look at his muscles in the mirror and then I went and cried in the bathroom and never went back -  despite having nine months left on my contract. 

Growing up, I hated exercising so much that I would lie and cry to get out of it. To get me to walk the 10 minutes to primary school Mum would chase me down our hill with a big stick. Just the threat of it worked. Sometimes. Other times I would throw a tantrum on the living room floor and scream “I hate you” at her until she ordered a taxi.

In my home, books and TV reigned over sport. I’ve still never watched a rugby game. Mum left school in fifth form and wanted me to have the education she didn’t. As a result I was a book-nerd. A proud teacher's pet. I understood the language of doing well at school: read books, be nice, don’t fail. 

I didn’t, however, understand sport and so it frightened me. I spent my time in my head, not my body, and that felt safe.

As I grew into a teenager, my unruly body felt hot and sticky all the time. It had a tummy and thighs that touched and it didn’t look like the body of the girls I knew who played sports. 

Girls who played sports had flat tummies with belly-button piercings. Girls who played sports had skinny legs which meant that they could wear skinny jeans. Girls who played sports wore g-strings and waxed their legs and kissed boys. Girls who played sports were hot. I was not. My body needed to be contained unless it could perform in a way that made it desirable. Until then, it would only let me down. 

In high school PE, I didn’t understand the rules of anything. I was petrified of being hit by a flying ball, believing that it could kill me or, at least, that it would expose me for the unfit and uncool dweeb that I was when I failed to catch it.

Sometimes I would accidentally be the last person standing in dodgeball because I had spent the whole game as close to the sidelines, avoiding the ball and trying to make myself as invisible as possible. Another time I told the PE teacher, Mr King, who had a handlebar moustache and bred alpacas with his mum in his spare time, that I had forgotten a tampon and so couldn’t play when I hadn’t even had a period yet. 

When I was 16, I had a crush on a boy who often played ultimate frisbee in the park by my house. I had never been kissed and wanted to know what it was like for someone to like me. 

One of the girls who played sports said if you wanted to lose weight you had to exercise four times a week. So I started doing that. I also stopped eating sugar and carbs and lost a lot of weight quickly. I would run through the park where my crush was, hoping he would lock eyes on my shrinking body and want to kiss me. He didn’t but I enjoyed the light dizziness that came with being a bit hungry all the time and that when I wore skinny jeans to school people told me they looked good. I felt validated and like I had figured out how to contain my body. 

I had to keep it up though: the moment I let go I would only unravel and be exposed for the unruly, sticky and uncoordinated fool I felt I was.

A couple of years ago I decided to see what it was like if I approached exercise as a way to manage my anxiety, not my body. 

I found a personal trainer, one who told me I was doing great all the time. We got on well and he convinced me to join his social netball team even though I had never successfully shot a ball into a hoop. Every Tuesday night, before the game, I would want to cancel. More than enough times I did. 

Around the same time I started therapy to process the time I was five and another man touched me and then told me it was my fault and my body’s impulses were wrong. Soon, I started cancelling on netball less. I saw that sometimes other people dropped the ball too and other times I caught it like them. 

I still didn’t try to shoot a hoop but there didn’t seem to be any relationship between me playing and us losing - sometimes we even won. I learnt that failing did not have to equate with pain or shame and I could in fact see it as an attempt to learn and get better at something. I started looking forward to the game each week.

Through my therapist I started a trauma-sensitive yoga course. I didn’t know what that meant but the title felt appropriate. 

The teacher started the first Zoom class by giving us permission to move our body as we wanted to: “These poses are a guide but you can do whatever you want with them”,  she said. “Some people just sleep the whole class and that is perfectly fine. It’s your body”. 

It was a completely foreign idea to me. I had never thought to ask my body how it wanted to move. I didn’t know I could. 

I thought about that man when I was five and the man in the gym. I wondered how much the way I had moved through the world had been to appease others. How much was my fear of failure in exercise associated with a fear of being unsafe? 

I turned my camera off and spent the next hour of class cackling and flopping my body around my room just as I wanted to. Half-assed child's pose and all.

Creativity, evocative visual storytelling and good journalism come at a price. Support our work and join the Ensemble membership program
No items found.

Learning about failure through moving my body

Photo / Getty Images

I was at the gym once, flopped over in the mat area in some sweaty semblance of a child’s pose, when a man ripped out my earbuds and said I should do yoga properly or not at all. 

I didn’t understand why he cared so much what I did with my body but I believed him. I wasn’t really trying to do yoga but how dare I take up space if I couldn’t do something properly? 

The man moved on to look at his muscles in the mirror and then I went and cried in the bathroom and never went back -  despite having nine months left on my contract. 

Growing up, I hated exercising so much that I would lie and cry to get out of it. To get me to walk the 10 minutes to primary school Mum would chase me down our hill with a big stick. Just the threat of it worked. Sometimes. Other times I would throw a tantrum on the living room floor and scream “I hate you” at her until she ordered a taxi.

In my home, books and TV reigned over sport. I’ve still never watched a rugby game. Mum left school in fifth form and wanted me to have the education she didn’t. As a result I was a book-nerd. A proud teacher's pet. I understood the language of doing well at school: read books, be nice, don’t fail. 

I didn’t, however, understand sport and so it frightened me. I spent my time in my head, not my body, and that felt safe.

As I grew into a teenager, my unruly body felt hot and sticky all the time. It had a tummy and thighs that touched and it didn’t look like the body of the girls I knew who played sports. 

Girls who played sports had flat tummies with belly-button piercings. Girls who played sports had skinny legs which meant that they could wear skinny jeans. Girls who played sports wore g-strings and waxed their legs and kissed boys. Girls who played sports were hot. I was not. My body needed to be contained unless it could perform in a way that made it desirable. Until then, it would only let me down. 

In high school PE, I didn’t understand the rules of anything. I was petrified of being hit by a flying ball, believing that it could kill me or, at least, that it would expose me for the unfit and uncool dweeb that I was when I failed to catch it.

Sometimes I would accidentally be the last person standing in dodgeball because I had spent the whole game as close to the sidelines, avoiding the ball and trying to make myself as invisible as possible. Another time I told the PE teacher, Mr King, who had a handlebar moustache and bred alpacas with his mum in his spare time, that I had forgotten a tampon and so couldn’t play when I hadn’t even had a period yet. 

When I was 16, I had a crush on a boy who often played ultimate frisbee in the park by my house. I had never been kissed and wanted to know what it was like for someone to like me. 

One of the girls who played sports said if you wanted to lose weight you had to exercise four times a week. So I started doing that. I also stopped eating sugar and carbs and lost a lot of weight quickly. I would run through the park where my crush was, hoping he would lock eyes on my shrinking body and want to kiss me. He didn’t but I enjoyed the light dizziness that came with being a bit hungry all the time and that when I wore skinny jeans to school people told me they looked good. I felt validated and like I had figured out how to contain my body. 

I had to keep it up though: the moment I let go I would only unravel and be exposed for the unruly, sticky and uncoordinated fool I felt I was.

A couple of years ago I decided to see what it was like if I approached exercise as a way to manage my anxiety, not my body. 

I found a personal trainer, one who told me I was doing great all the time. We got on well and he convinced me to join his social netball team even though I had never successfully shot a ball into a hoop. Every Tuesday night, before the game, I would want to cancel. More than enough times I did. 

Around the same time I started therapy to process the time I was five and another man touched me and then told me it was my fault and my body’s impulses were wrong. Soon, I started cancelling on netball less. I saw that sometimes other people dropped the ball too and other times I caught it like them. 

I still didn’t try to shoot a hoop but there didn’t seem to be any relationship between me playing and us losing - sometimes we even won. I learnt that failing did not have to equate with pain or shame and I could in fact see it as an attempt to learn and get better at something. I started looking forward to the game each week.

Through my therapist I started a trauma-sensitive yoga course. I didn’t know what that meant but the title felt appropriate. 

The teacher started the first Zoom class by giving us permission to move our body as we wanted to: “These poses are a guide but you can do whatever you want with them”,  she said. “Some people just sleep the whole class and that is perfectly fine. It’s your body”. 

It was a completely foreign idea to me. I had never thought to ask my body how it wanted to move. I didn’t know I could. 

I thought about that man when I was five and the man in the gym. I wondered how much the way I had moved through the world had been to appease others. How much was my fear of failure in exercise associated with a fear of being unsafe? 

I turned my camera off and spent the next hour of class cackling and flopping my body around my room just as I wanted to. Half-assed child's pose and all.

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