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Bad Kitty® Inspiration Series: How Pole Helped Me Through Loss

By on July 18, 2016


My pole journey started about four years ago, and at the time it was just for fun – to increase my strength, get in shape, get in touch with my own body. When I first started pole dancing my husband Rick thought it was funny and told all of his friends. As my journey continued his attitude went from enthusiastic and supportive, to tolerant and supportive, to just tolerant. Although he did still rejoice with me when I nailed a new trick. During this time I was meeting some incredible women and cultivating meaningful friendships, all of which would become incredibly important a little later on.

My studio is a small, intimate one, and for me it’s a safe haven. No matter what is going on in my life, I always know I can walk through that door and no matter how I am feeling or what I say, there is no judgement, just support and hugs (and the not-so-occasional butt smacks!)

About two and a half years ago, my life was turned completely upside down. My husband Rick was diagnosed with colon cancer, and it was bad. We knew from the beginning there was no cure, only a race Courtney:R2against the clock to give us as much time together as possible. I had to figure out how to maximize the time we had left, while still taking care of myself. That’s when pole became an essential part of my life. Rick understood I needed my safe space and he started encouraging me to go as often as I could. So, in between our vacations and concerts and fun times, I went to pole class. I went to pole on good nights and bad nights. I went on nights when I knew that while I was at the studio, Rick was home feeling awful from his chemotherapy treatments. But that’s how our relationship was – we didn’t say anything we didn’t mean, and if he told me to go, I knew it was ok to.

Even while I was at the studio, he was never far from my mind. My cell phone became glued to my side, and I checked it obsessively during class. I didn’t hang around afterwards to chat with classmates as I had before. I was rushing home to him to make sure he was ok, and to just be with him. And through all


of this, my pole sisters were there for me. They asked questions. They offered support. They gave me hugs when I cried. They laughed at me when I was being bitchy. But, they never left me alone. I knew that if I needed anything that all I had to do was call, and they would be there. The pole community is just that way.

But what nobody knew was how much pole dancing really saved me. Watching someone get sick, and ultimately die, is one of the hardest things to go through. There were many nights I laid awake, thinking there was no way I could get through this, that the pain was so incredibly overwhelming, that I needed to just get it out of me. Those were the nights when I thought of cutting myself. I had never been a cutter, but all of a sudden I understood the draw. It was like, if I could just cut myself a little, open myself up, maybe some of this agony I was feeling would leave my body and I would feel better. There were many nights where I felt like this – more than I would like to admit. But each time, as I sat there thinking about it, I also told myself that if I did it, I wouldn’t be able to pole. Cut my thighs? Nope, can’t grip the pole then. Inner arms? Nope that gets in the way of my inverts. No matter what part of my body I thought about cutting, there was always a pole reason not to. And to me, being able to pole, especially now, was more important than almost anything else in my life – except for Rick. So instead of hurting myself, I pushed myself. I worked on new tricks. I danced my heart out to some angry songs. And I kept going back to the studio.


Towards the end, I stopped going to the studio. I needed to be with Rick. He passed away four months ago, and I’m now returning to my studio. My pole sisters have welcomed me back with open arms and so much love. Most of them will never know how close I came to the edge, and that they, and pole, were the ones who kept me from falling.


Courtney Rheuban

Courtney Rheuban

When not pole dancing, Courtney is either training for the NY Marathon or hanging out with her 6 dogs.More likely, drinking champagne and dancing on bars.
Courtney Rheuban

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