I grew up in a turbulent home.  There was verbal violence and physical violence at the height of the disfunction in my family.  I grew up in Schaumburg, IL and moved to South Barrington, IL when I was 15.  I had two years of high school left and my parents said that if I made honor roll then they would make sure I had a car to use to finish school at Schaumburg High School.  They changed their mind and the next thing I know I’m at Barrington High School trying to make new friends at this “yuppy” high school in my mind’s eye.  Schaumburg is more middle class and Barrington is very wealthy.  It wasn’t uncommon to drive the neighborhoods and look at all the different mansions in the area.  The student parking lot had more expensive cars than the teachers.  The combination of the disfunction that was happening in my family and moving at a ripe age of 15 put me in a very vulnerable position.  I wanted friends and I also felt super intimidated moving into this wealthy neighborhood.  To top it off, I was pissed off about my family.  

One blessing that happened to me at Barrington High School was that they had an option to take dance class everyday instead of gym.  I took some dance when I was younger and a year at Schaumburg High School after I broke my growth plate in my left arm in gymnastics and switched sports because it took a long time to straighten my arm again.  I LOVED DANCE with a MAJOR passion!!!!!  I loved it at Schaumburg but without daily practice, it was harder to progress as fast.  At Barrington we practiced everyday, I got really good really fast.  I had incredible grounding in my feet and could pirouette fiercely.  Pada bouree single pirouette pada bouree single pirouette quickly turned into pada bouree double pirouette and then into triples.  My turns were my forte!  I could spot the wall perfectly and turn with conviction and spot and turn with power and spot and turn.  It was amazing what was happening to me!  Somehow with a little cultivation, I developed into an amazing dancer.  I had an athletic ability within me that I didn’t know existed.  It helped me develop confidence and pride in my work.  I loved the music, the creativity and expressing myself through movement.  Somehow I could let out all that anger that I had within me out on the dance floor.  The fact that I was so involved in dance kept me away from home and some of the drama.

I was doing a performance and a producer saw one of my shows and asked me to audition for his professional dance team.  I go to the audition and I make the team!  I had dance daily at school instead of gym and then after school I did either pom’s, orchises (dance team) or a musical.  I liked pom’s better than cheerleading simply because it was more dance.  I had the professional dance team practice on Sundays all day from 10am till 5 or 6pm.  These were long days!!!  Sometimes we would also meet another night during the week or the weekends.  I also did a pageant, but that’s another story!

I was nerdy at Schaumburg High School with my braces and I was my popular older brother’s younger sister.  My nickname for a long time was Little Hendricks (my maiden name).  At Barrington my braces came off, I became an excellent dancer and somehow I had lots of friends.  Life was changing for me in so many ways.  It was also a time when my mom when into the hospital to get an optional hysterectomy because of benign cysts.  The hysterectomy was a disaster.  They accidentally cut her colon and an artery and she never had an enema.  She had toxemia in her blood and almost died.  They started the surgery late like 5pm on a Friday night and it lasted hours later like 10pm when it should have ended much sooner.  She later had exploratory surgeries that confirmed lesions on her colon.  She had IBS before her surgery but after the surgery she developed an infection and was pooping green.  Her health was never the same.

I would visit her at 17 years old since I had my license and I could drive to the hospital on my own.  I was trying to think of ways to make her feel better post surgery and didn’t realize how sick she was.  The doctor covered up the accident and we didn’t get confirmation of the mistake until years later.  Since she had a hysterectomy, I wanted her to still feel like a woman.  I show up at the hospital and give her a Play Girl magazine.  I lay next to her on the hospital bed as we check out the different shapes and sizes of the male penis!  What the heck was I thinking, ha!  Anyway, she laughed a lot and we bonded.  She later told me that it meant a lot to her that I did that.  I was one of the few people to visit her when she was very hurt.  It broke my heart to see her like this.  My mom was always strong and I adored her.

I go to a super huge mansion party in Barrington with some of my beautiful friends from high school.  We were around all these really wealthy people and there was cocaine.  I was an emotional hot mess because my mom was sick, my parents used to have battles, my brothers would violently react and my dad would drink, a lot.  I just moved to a new area and needed some kind of stability.  I used to find my stability in my friends because my family life was too unpredictable.  I started drinking at 15 and was already experimenting with marijuana.  My friend wanted to go and do cocaine because it was a “rich man’s drug”.  I felt extra privileged to be at this fancy party and to have access to this expensive drug.  It was a Saturday night.  I didn’t want to pass up on the opportunity as you never know when the proposal would be made again.  I debate it back and forth yes I want to do it!  But I had my professional dance team practice the next day for approximately 8 hours!  I knew cocaine keeps you up all night and I would be exhausted if I did it.  So the only reason why I never did cocaine was because of my mad love affair with dance.

Later on I had another opportunity in Spain to try it but my brother got into it and it was destroying his life.  I adored my older brother so much.  He was the Cool Kid.  It was hard for me to watch how a drug can hurt someone so much.  I vowed to never touch the stuff after seeing what it did to him.  This doesn’t mean I was in the clean with destructive activities but I never touched cocaine and only saw it two times in my life.  

I don’t judge anyone for doing drugs or not.  I’ve tried my fair share.  Heck, I almost tried cocaine and I’m sure that if I did it then I would have fallen really into it.  Dance saved me.  I was an emotional train wreck despite my success.  Somehow dance grounded me.  I think about this with my children who are still so young and tender.  How can I as a mother help them find something that they love as much as I loved dance so they can have something to keep them grounded?  Thank you dance.  Thank you athletic ability.  Thank you Barrington High School for offering dance instead of gym.  Thank you all for listening to my super vulnerable story.  I feel exposed but if this can in anyway help anyone then it served it’s purpose.  Much love to you all.  As always, comments, feedback and your experiences welcome:)