Return of the Body Double

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So I was walking Rocco the wonder dog again today and realized that I hadn’t closed out the week that was with respect to dancing and we left the story at a not so nice place.  Suffice to say the rest of the week was better but not perfect and offered some explanations for Monday’s lesson.  As I suspected, Z had hurt herself sometime on Monday and was struggling to get through the lesson.  This explains her attitude but it doesn’t fully explain away some of the hurtful comments that were made under her breath on Monday night.  Yes, here I go being all sensitive again.  Wednesday was better and we worked on the Hustle routine but she hurt herself in the middle of that and we had to cancel our lesson for Thursday.  On Friday, she was there but not dancing so I actually worked with the body double while she taught us the beginnings of the Mambo amalgamation.  She had actually spent part of Friday working with the body double so she knew the moves a little better than I did.

I feel the need to provide a little more about our relationship which will end up being more about my perceptions of things.  I am absolutely sure she could write a book about her frustrations with me.  To say we are like oil and water is the understatement of the year.  Some days, we mix very well and when oil and water mix well, you do get something that is tasty and pleasant.  When they don’t …, well you get an unappetizing oil slick.  OK, that’s not a good metaphor because when we really don’t mix, it is much more like diet coke and mentos  – explosive decompression.  I suspect we are alike in many ways.  We both have a tendency to use heavy sarcastic humor that can be very funny at times and cruelly insensitive and biting at others and I don’t think either of us know the limits at times. I think we are both prone to mis-reading and over interpreting someone’s actions and/or words and taking things personally that shouldn’t be.  In the really bad lessons, I think we feed off each other’s emotions which can easily lead to the death spiral.  There are certainly times when I wonder if I would be better off with another instructor (and I know she wonders the same thing).  We’ve accomplished a lot though so it isn’t all bad but there are certain things that do set me off a bit.  Perhaps by describing them, I can put myself in a better place to deal with them in the future.

On Friday, she was actually complementary at times.  She probably does this much more than I’ll admit to because I tend to remember the ugly lessons where she’s on me from the start and I end up feeling like I can’t do anything right.  The problem is that it doesn’t always ring true to me.  Working with OwnerGuy on Monday was different because he was more expressive in his praise.  Perhaps he’s simply learned better but it felt more genuine.  With her, I’d get a “terrific” but it sometimes was in the same flat tone she used for corrections.  Yes, I am detecting a tone where there probably isn’t one but I warned you that is what I do.  The funny thing is (or maybe this isn’t really funny) is that while I’d get the step right, when she said “Terrific”, I was just thinking to myself “yeah, but we didn’t do it to timing and I’m sure my posture sucked”.  In other words, I know she wants the whole ball of wax so maybe it is difficult for me to get too excited about getting one part right when I know that she’ll eventually drop the hammer on some other part.  I think to some extend this is a learned response because there are lessons where she will say “we are only focusing on X” but then end up correcting “Y” and “Z” later in the lesson.  For her part, I could tell she gets frustrated when I don’t response positively to her praise and maybe that also becomes a learned response where she stops offering it because she senses it isn’t appreciated.

There was also a point in the hustle routine where I messed something up and she said “remember when Coach X said blah, blah, blah”.  The inner smart ass popped up and, in my head, answered “Well obviously not because if I had remembered, then I would have done it right, now wouldn’t I”.  I have learned to keep the inner smart ass inside but it then leads to me being silent which she may take as resentment or something else.  Truth is that I have had about a gazillion coaching lessons and, on each one, I get a boatload of information crammed into my head.  This is on top of the things she and OwnerGuy give me on lessons.  With all the dances I do, I’d say there is a metric crap ton of little points floating around my head that I’m trying to load into my main memory while doing a particular dance.  Sometimes, I hit a bad sector and just forget something.  Again, I am clearly interpreting tone here but I get the sense that she gets frustrated with me when I can’t remember every little nugget of information that has been crammed into some little space in my head.

The other thing that usually sets me off is when she starts going into a long explanation about some mistake.  Sometimes, she is giving me good information about the consequences of a particular mistake but part of me just wants to fix it and move on.  I really don’t always care why something is bad.  I just need to know that it is bad and not to do it again.  She is probably correct in her approach because understanding the why behind something is better than simply knowing you messed up but I have a limit on how many of those I can take before I start to shut down because it feels to me like she is boring in on my screw ups.

It was funny but after one particularly rough lesson last week, the statue was talking to me after group class.  This is rare cause the statue doesn’t talk much outside of teaching lessons.  She actually offered up the comment that Z is only tough on me because she sees my potential.  Not sure that is entirely true because she grinds others down as well at times but it is nice to think about.

One other funny note on Friday.  I stuck around for group class after our lesson which was two-step.  It was being taught by the newest instructor who is very loud and very enthusiastic.  Because they don’t have levels in two-step and because there were only four of us, they just created on large group class which was the first time she got to teach the big kids (more advanced students).  The group class wasn’t perfect but two-step is her dance and she did a great job and it was fun.  For some reason, I thanked her after the lesson – it just seemed like the thing to do.  Z happened to be walking by at the time and made some “woe is me” kind of joke about how I thanked that instructor but that I never thank her.  Again, it was meant to be a joke but I am becoming convinced that there is a little truth to every joke she makes.  Of course, I’m an INTP and sensing other’s feelings isn’t a real strength so she could just be messing around but I just don’t think so.  But other times when I’ve tried to tell her how much I appreciate things, she kind of blows me off.  So I’m not entirely sure how to take it.

Long story short, we have a very complicated relationship.  She has taught me a great deal and I’ve come farther than I would have thought and some of that is because she pushes me.  It would be nice if we could just come up with some safe words to use when one or both of us are near the edge.  That might defuse the bomb before it goes off.  I wish I has some simple formula to explain the dynamics but there’s a lot of history.  She remembers almost everything I’ve ever said to her in anger and a lot of it comes back so I end up trying to measure my words carefully.  Explaining feelings verbally is another real weak area for me so I do give her a lot of contradictory things which I know becomes frustration for her.  Well, we ended the day on Friday is a relatively good place so I’ll take that.


  1. Wall – My ex is an ISTJ (i’m ENTP), so i get the part about mot always being sensitive to others’ feelings. Happily, I’m just a hair over the F/T border and can be empathetic on occasion. A thought: What if, as an experiment, you adopted Z as your next mentee (without telling her, of course). What if, for a month or so, you focus entirely on supporting HER in feeling valued and appreciated? How might that change the dynamics of your relationship?

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