It’s sexy. It’s dangerous. It’s unique.

But I’ve seen dear friends of mine driven further into their fire dancing endeavors after having experienced a life altering situation, and now I’ve become one of them. After a major breakup, I watched one man go from being on the fringe of fire arts, to letting me teach him to eat fire, to surpassing my skills and making me a proud woman. When things began to fall apart, he not only picked them up, but he also put them together in new ways that challenged former expectations.

Fire arts have a healing quality about them that I think both practitioners and viewers can relate to, or at least appreciate. Image used with permission.
Fire arts have a healing quality about them that I think both practitioners and viewers can relate to, or at least appreciate. (Image used with permission.)

And then a year later one of my best friends found herself in a divorce after being with someone for nearly two decades. This came at a time when she was resigning from tribal belly dance and fire arts (performing them, at least), and before we knew it, these became her outlet like never before and she pushed through some of the pain by diving right back in, and like our aforementioned friend, took her skills to new levels by now learning how to eat fire like a pro.

One of my partners-in-crime, Dex, eating fire like a pro. (Image used with permission)
One of my partners-in-crime, Dex, eating fire like a pro. (Image used with permission)

I’ve admired these friends and their journeys, and I never questioned these paths because as a performing artist, I understand the need to dance, and everything that goes along with it (studying, practicing, performing). About two years ago I felt the need to leave the group that was my tribe of sisters and brothers. I knew that I needed to do something different, but I didn’t know what that meant. I joined Circus Mojo, a local circus group and apprenticed, taught, and performed with them happily. While I still consider myself to be a part of that family, it doesn’t incorporate the fire arts as much as I feel the call to do them.

dancing with fire
This is me, dancing with one of my fire props at the Northside Rock-n-Roll Carnival with Dante’s Gypsy Circus, 2009

Unexpected Decisions

Last November, I realized that I wasn’t getting younger, even though performing somehow made me feel like that was happening. As some of you know, I am married, and have two sons (8 and 10 years old). It was now or never, if I wanted to have another child. I somehow convinced my husband that this was a good idea, that we needed to give it one more chance to at least see if it was meant to be. I felt like someone was missing from our family, and we had to give her a chance (yes, her) to join us. I had my IUD removed (a major choice in itself, as these cause quite the abdominal pain when you first get one), and off we went.

Month after month, mother nature reminded me on cue that I was not pregnant, with just enough ‘news’ to seemingly taunt me. Month after month, my chest tightened up. I didn’t start crying until after we tried for six months; we had agreed that that was how much time we would give it. My husband convinced me that we should keep trying; he could tell how badly I wanted this. Another six months came and went; I wasted money on ovulation detectors and pregnancy tests (always hopeful), and lied to myself that it was okay that we weren’t pregnant. I went through the pain of getting an HSG test, to make sure everything was still possible. I rarely feel like punching people, but I would still love to slap my doctor in the face for telling me that I might experience “some cramping” during this procedure. It was as painful as a birthing contraction, and the shock that she didn’t warn me better hurt just as bad.

A couple of more months with no changes, and I just couldn’t do it any longer. For the past year, we tried, we hoped. It’s done. We’re moving on. I got a new IUD (same doctor, and this time I felt so nauseated that I again wanted to slap her. Especially when she apparently didn’t read my chart, and said things that she wouldn’t have said if she had remembered that 1. we had a fertility consultation together, and 2. she had administered the HSG on me.).

I normally don’t get this personal, online, and rarely even in person. But few people knew that we were trying, and that’s a lot to bottle up for a year. The point is that I’m coming to peace with the knowledge that it wasn’t meant to be. And now, instead of planning a nursery, worrying about daycare expenses, and dreaming of baby giggles, my energy is diverted. Of course, I’m eternally grateful for my two sons, who enjoy the circus arts right along with me. I expect 2014 to be my year of exploring new opportunities with fire dancing, in particular. While I knew before that something needed to change, I didn’t go anywhere different. But now that enough time has passed between leaving my original group, and I’ve given the domestic life another chance, I’m going to do what my husband advised. “You should dance and perform as much as you can.”

And why not? This is what I love to do. This is what makes me feel alive.

As always, thanks for reading. I hope that when you find yourself in pain, you can find a way to channel it into something. Maybe something sexy, dangerous, unique. But it doesn’t have to be. Just find something.

Cherie Dawn


3 thoughts on “Why We Dance With Fire (Warning: This is Personal)

  1. I read your recent blog post and was very touched by what you shared with your readers. Your story really touched me emotionally and I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried a little. I’m so sorry sweetie, I had no idea that you guys were going through all of that but I am so happy that you were able to come out of it with a renewed passion for life and performing. I know it’s cliched but I really believe in the saying. ” When one door in our lives closes, the wind from the closing door opens a new door for us.” You have so much passion for life that it’s a pleasure to follow your blog posts and updates on Facebook. I really admire your strength and vitality and your untamed spirit!


    1. Dear Shawn,
      Thank you, eternally, for your kind words (and for sharing them here). The past year has felt bipolar, in that we flip-flopped between the excitement of having a baby, which we assumed would happen, and the sadness that we weren’t getting pregnant, all overlaid with the rationality of a hundred reasons why we shouldn’t even be trying. It was an emotional roller coaster, and because it’s taboo to talk about to a certain extent (there was always the fear that we would tell people we were trying, and then what if I got pregnant, and what if I miscarried, and what if they kept asking if we were pregnant yet, etc), I felt alone. But as much fun as it was to come up with names (like Amber), and more, I worried about my career, our finances, where we’d fit a baby in our house, and on and on. But now I can focus still on my career, my dance endeavors, our sons, and our future together as a family of four.
      I’m an eternal optimist, and living in the present is so important. These things, combined, leave me with nothing but love.
      Thanks again, dear. xoxo

  2. I received the following message via Facebook, and with the writer’s permission, am sharing it here in hopes that others who have gone through similar situations can find strength and understanding through it.

    “I just read your story on Facebook. I want you to know I’m thinking about you and I have an idea of what you are going through. We tried for years to have another child after our first. But, I had 4 miscarriages instead (2 pretty bad ones). I know your disappointment is like nothing else and the secret pain that eats inside you is really hard. It’s also something that was a burden between my husband and me until I learned to let it go. I just recently (a few months ago) also underwent a procedure to sterilize myself permanently. Finally coming to acceptance of that was the most freeing thing I’ve ever done. It doesn’t mean I don’t think about it and feel a twinge of sadness. But, it does mean I can finally get on with living a full life without constantly hoping for something different. I am so glad you have your writing and your dancing. Keep dancing for me, too!!”

    Thank you, friend.

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