"Every day I am stripped down to my most vulnerable and unguarded self," the contestant writes

By Melissa Gilbert
April 23, 2012 01:30 PM
Credit: Adam Taylor/ABC

Well, we’ve made to the halfway point. I don’t know whether to jump up and down or just curl up in a ball and weep. I cannot remember if I’ve ever been this tired in my life. The closest I’ve ever come to this kind of physical exhaustion is when my kids were newborns.

My friends who had done Dancing with the Stars before me told me this would be hard. They told me that it was a long arduous process. So did the producers. So did Maks. I was as ready as I could possibly be.

What I was not ready for is the emotional toll this experience is taking. I’ve always believed that we grow the most from the biggest challenges in our lives. The good times are our chance to breathe and appreciate our lives but the hard stuff is, in many ways, more important.

I’m sure I’m growing right now in unimaginable ways. It seems that every day I am stripped down to my most vulnerable and unguarded self. My emotions are raw and unpredictable. The closest thing I can compare this to emotionally is getting sober. I remember those first days, the rush of feelings I was experiencing with no way to shut them off or numb them.

I am still sober, and now I’m in this competition that forces all emotions right to the surface. It’s taken me nearly eight years as a sober person to control the flood of feelings. Now every day is a full-on emotional rollercoaster complete with elation, depression, confusion, self-doubt, rage, accomplishment, failure, bargaining, sorrow, laughter. All of it. The amazing part is that I don’t know moment to moment what will come next.

My poor family. I’m a battered zombie who eats all of the food. My boyfriend has seen me cry more times in past three weeks than in the entire time we’ve known each other. And Maks … Maks gets most of my time and has become the person who has to deal with it all the most. We are together more than most couples. In a very few short weeks we have become very, very close. So close that we trigger each other daily. Poor Maks is having a recurring nightmare about me. His eye is starting to twitch.

And how do I feel about him? Alternately, I want to strangle him or hug him. Every few minutes of every day. He is brilliant, difficult, smart, funny, charming, petulant, generous to a fault, funny and demanding.

I cannot believe that we are halfway through already. I cannot believe that the clock is really ticking and soon, one way or another, I will not see him every day.

So right now, even when things are rough, I am savoring every moment. Thank you all for your votes. Maks and I know that if it wasn’t for you we would not be here and we are so very thankful.

Personally, I thank you for allowing me to have one of the most amazing, growing experiences of my lifetime. Until next week … I hope!