Former New York City Ballet dancer Linda Hamilton, Ph.D., is a psychologist in private practice, the author of Advice for Dancers (Jossey-Bass) and co-author of The Dancer's Way: The New York City Ballet Guide to Mind, Body, and Nutrition (St. Martin's Griffin). Her website is drlindahamilton.com.
I thought I'd be fine after undergoing successful surgery to repair a torn ankle ligament. Instead, I'm depressed and hopeless that I'm still not able to perform. My therapist tells me I'm making good progress, but I don't see it. Why not?
—Ashley, San Francisco, CA
I feel totally unlovable as a woman ever since my boyfriend left me for a male dancer in the company. I truly believed he was in love with me when we moved in together. How can I get over my gut-wrenching grief, let alone dance with him?
A serious boyfriend who suddenly comes out unleashes an avalanche of questions about your relationship, making you wonder if it was all fake. Understandably, this also complicates your emotions as his dance partner. But your ability to be loved has nothing to do with your boyfriend's desire for liberation after living a closeted life. Sexual preference is inborn and may emerge when a person admits that they're bisexual or gay after a long period of confusion, fear and inner turmoil. It's not a personal choice; it's who they really are.
Obviously, it would have saved you considerable pain if you'd known this beforehand. He may have wanted to be with you due to love, a misguided attempt to rid himself of his yearnings or both. Human sexuality is complicated, and love does not always equal sexual attraction. Right now, surround yourself with caring friends while you slowly adjust to this change. If you need a safe place to tell your story and discuss your experiences of grief, isolation, anger and betrayal, check out the Straight Spouse Network. While it will take time for you to feel more comfortable dancing with him, you may eventually develop compassion for your partner's own painful journey.
I've already had several dance jobs and apprenticed with a company. Now I've set up a series of auditions but can't shake the words of my old dance teacher. He told our entire class that, unlike him, we didn't have what it takes to be a professional. He also laughed at us and made humiliating comments about our bodies. We thought he was "mental" at the time, yet now it's messing with my head. What's wrong with me?
—Jason, Jersey City, NJ
After working till exhaustion apprenticing at my dance school's company plus taking regular student classes,
I (and a few others) received an email from the school director dismissing us without any explanation. I've tried to schedule a meeting with her but haven't received a reply. Does this mean I'm not talented and should quit ballet?
—Devastated Dancer, Brooklyn, NY
I'm constantly terrified about my health even though my annual physical was fine. All it takes is an upset stomach or a new freckle. Then I can't eat or concentrate on dance and waste hours checking myself, searching the web for fatal diseases and insisting on lab tests. Knowing I'm a hypochondriac doesn't help. What can I do?
—Worried Sick, Boston, MA