Bleeding out

by Andrea Elizabeth

Watching double amputee, Amy Purdy’s journey on Dancing With the Stars has been very intriguing to me. I won’t call it inspiring as everyone else does, because it seems like just another day at the office to me. Following up on yesterday’s post about relationships, I’d put her and Derek’s relationship in the category of his helping her get through the day. It is done very well thanks to his talent, generosity of spirit, and her athleticism, but she struggles so much to get to the nice presentation phase.

I’ve been thinking about her struggle as not only about physical challenges, but motivational, and psychological too. She almost died at age 20, lost her legs above the knee, and had to learn to live differently. In short, she was devastated. Devastation can be compared to almost bleeding out. Once you’ve been there, it is very easy for you to go there again and again emotionally. She said Monday night that her extreme lows when she feels like she’s dragging people down, which she felt with the double couple dance this week, are part of her process. Her realizing that about herself is more inspiring to me than what she has been able to accomplish physically on the dance floor. Other dancers think she’s different because of her and Derek’s technique, but I see her as someone who has found that most don’t know the lowest parts of their own souls very well. Amy has easy access, and she just has to wait and ride the next current back up again.

Maybe there’s a way to turn back before reaching the falls, though. Believing there’s an alternate route is probably the answer. People with the more obvious infirmities can feel like a burden to others. It is hard for them to feel worth while. Living with infirmity can feel like choosing the lesser of two evils, because suicide is a sinful option. Now if only Amy could find joy. Her smile feels more to me like determination and courage than joy. She’s too worried about others’ opinions and feelings to let that out. And other dancers commenting on how different it is to dance with her doesn’t help! They don’t have the competition sewn up either, so they should talk more about their own challenges. But she does have an obvious and unique struggle, so it’s hard not to notice.

Magnified attention is hard to deal with as well. How can you tell someone to not be self-conscious when others are so conscious of them? People who stand out have to learn to live with having an isolated point of view. People who blend in feel part of the group. Stand out people have to quit thinking about it. It is what it is.

I love watching Meryl with Maks. When he starts to focus on her problems, she turns it back on him and says it’s because he’s scared. Amy needs to turn her mirror around and shine that spotlight back on other people.