Stories of Impact: Angel Rosen
“I was very broken, as I like to put it, because everything hurt—emotionally, physically, spiritually—you name it, it hurt.”
Name: Angel Rosen
Location: Beaufort, North Carolina; formerly Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Pole dancing for: 3 years
Training studio: Currently home-based
How did you get into pole dancing?
I fell into pole by chance. I originally started going to the house of a woman I apprenticed* under. She had two poles in her home and two young kids, and my youngest was still attached to the hip. I couldn’t do anything at that time unless I could take my kids and her environment was child-friendly, which is why I fell into it immediately. I was sunk after my first pole class.
Why did pole have that affect on you?
I suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and high anxiety, and when I came into pole I was just coming out of a slight depression from dealing with my boys’ therapy. My two boys have special needs and all I was doing was their therapies. It literally pulled me out of this hole and gave me something for myself again.
How long have you experienced PTSD and anxiety?
I was diagnosed about six years ago, but I knew that I had always had anxiety. The women in my family are manic depressive, so when you have a history of those genetics, they just automatically classify you that way. I had also suffered abuse—mentally, sexually, physically—before I was 8 years old. I put that man in jail myself and that recovery time, as you get older, is all about how you process it.
Six years ago I started to see a therapist because my anxiety was so high that it was interfering with my daily routines. Within the first year of poling, my confidence level got so much bigger, because it’s all you when it comes to pole—it’s all about your goals and your accomplishments—and it all really trickles down. There is so much positive that comes out of it.
What’s an average day like for you, emotionally, since you’ve taken up pole?
I have less anxiety on a daily basis. I just moved from Cape Cod down the east coast and I’ve only been [in North Carolina] for two weeks. To deal with my stressors, my X-Pole is in the middle of my living room.
You mentioned you use pole as part of your son’s occupational therapy. Can you share more about that?
One day I was working on a trick and my older son, Ethan, comes in and was like, “Mom, what are you working on?” I was trying to find out how a corkscrew move worked and he gets on the pole and just does it, and I had been working on that move for like, three days.
What Ethan has is a sensory-processing disorder known as “seeking.” There are many sensory disorders and each case is its own case because it depends on whether the sensory is heightened or lowered.
For Ethan, his body craves a certain amount of pressure intake and pulling or pushing activity. When he was younger, he actually used to throw his body into things, just physically feeding his need. His sensory as a young child was dangerous to himself. Before I got him diagnosed, he pulled four of his own teeth that were rooted into his head with his own fingers. He handed them to me and asked me for a grilled cheese.
What happened after that?
Through the process of getting neurologists and a behavioral group involved, the next thing I know I’m driving from one end of Cape Cod to the other, which is about 100 miles, for Ethan’s occupational therapy. This was my life. I had my youngest son then, too, and right as I was getting Ethan into therapy I noticed my other son was having needs**, so then I was going to the same center for the two boys and that’s all I was literally doing. It was depressing to me but it was helping them.
How did pole become a part of Ethan’s therapy?
Well, when Ethan did that corkscrew move, I started to think about how half of his therapy is pushing and pulling-related. Gymnastics worked really well for him and that’s all occupational therapies really are, so it really started to click when I would watch him on the pole and how it was feeding him physically in a fun manner that we could both do. It just gave us a little bit of our lives back, really. Now it’s very natural to us and we take that aspect of pole as a sport in our home.
Where do you think you would be had it not been for pole?
I would not be in a very great spot, that’s for sure. I definitely couldn’t have even mustered this massive move. The year I found pole, I had a whole team of people for my son Ethan to correlate what he needed, and there was a family partner who used to have to come to my house and literally pick me up off the floor because I was crying, I was in pieces. I was very broken, as I like to put it, because everything hurt—emotionally, physically, spiritually—you name it, it hurt.
I was also in my third year of sobriety. I was a wicked, wicked bad alcoholic and my first three years of sobriety I did tons of helping and carrying the message, which kind of replaces those meetings and guidelines that we all start out recovery in. Eventually, you’re supposed to move on, but there’s people who stay in that spot for 20 or 30 years. I would probably still be there trying to cling onto my sobriety. I would probably be a mental mess trying to take care of my sons. Spiritually, I would be broken and I wouldn’t have come as far as I have relationship-wise with my children’s father. I can’t even say that I would be sober, but I am solid now in who I am and what I want. Pole gives me purpose not to fuck up in those manners.
Without pole, I would probably still be searching for purpose, because I am definitely a caretaker, so taking care of myself is always last. Pole helped me realize that the things I want matter and that I have to make time for myself so I can continue to be good at what I love.
How else has pole changed you?
When I originally went to a class, I was looking for something to enhance my endurance and challenge me, and I just received so much more than that. It’s just one of those things that keeps giving and it’s a new universe that keeps opening up with more positive stuff.
it’s not only helped with the PTSD and becoming more in touch with myself, lowering my anxiety, and dealing with my stressors, it’s helped my kids deal with their stressors. I just don’t know of anything else that people can get so much good out of. One steel bar just makes everything better and I think that’s just so great.
*Rosen has trained to become a pole dance instructor and plans to open a home studio in the city which she now lives.
**Rosen’s youngest son, Wyatt, has a sensory-processing disorder that impacts his speech.