The Week that Was

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Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

Yes, it is sometimes silly to look for deeper meaning in pop song lyrics, but, sometimes, they nail it.  Hard to believe that just one week ago I was in Boston dancing with Z like there was nothing wrong.  Then, I had my panic on Monday because I was afraid of potential damage to that relationship.  Then, on Thursday, I blew it up.  And it blowed up real good.

Like any man made disaster, once the event happens, you can look back with perfect hindsight and see the path that lead to this.  With hindsight, it now appears obvious that this had to happen and now you wonder why you didn’t see it before.  As an INTP, I’m always searching for universal truth and I’ve got one that fits for this.  More on that later.

First, a small detour which is relevant to the story.  As a manager, the one thing that I’ve learned is that to be truly effective, you have to care about the people who work for you.  I mean, you can be a hard ass slave driver and get results, but at what cost.  Yes, there is the risk of getting too close but you have to understand that these are people with lives outside of work and the lines always get blurred.  And I do think people want to work for someone who sees them not just as a box on a org chart but as a real person with a real life and with real problems, real hopes, real fears and real dreams.  And, it isn’t something you can fake.

But what I’ve found in reaching out and trying to be a real person, is that everyone has something to offer.  The trick is finding someone’s strengths and playing to them.  When people are doing what they do well and experiencing success, it makes them feel good and positive about themselves and then you can start the process of stretching and growing.  Sometimes, you find that people’s strengths just don’t fit their current position or what they dream of doing.  Those are difficult situations but you have to make the hard choices and have the hard conversations.  Perhaps, I’m a bit of a starry eyed optimist when it comes to things like this but I do believe people are generally there to give an honest effort and so I can look past some of the issues that exist.  After all, nobody is perfect and you shouldn’t expect perfection.

The problem is that I’ve never been able to give myself that benefit of the doubt.  I’ve become convinced that you never can really reach your full potential until you can look in the mirror and truly like the person you see there.  It comes down to understanding who you are and accepting your own flaws and imperfections while building on the good qualities that you have.  And, you have to look at each situation and person in your life and ask whether they are helping you on that path to self-acceptance or are they a road block.  If they are a road block, then you have to move on.

I’ve done a lot of things I’m not proud of in my dancing life.  I’ve mentioned so many times that this is such a different experience and it stirs up a lot of emotions and I’m not the best at handling them.  So, I’ve lashed out and said mean things.  I’ve had melt downs on lessons.  I’ve had so many moments when I wanted to hit rewind and start over.  And, most of those days, were then made worse by the long drive home when the inner bullies took over and I further beat myself up for acting the way I did or for saying what I said.  Then, I would promise myself that things would change and they wouldn’t and the spiral downward would continue.

But I think I’ve grown in those years.  Wait, fuck it, I’ll own this.  I have grown.  I’m not the same person I was.  (Note, I could have edited this but I wanted you to see the improvement in my thought process).  But to gain real acceptance, I have to forgive myself for what has happened in the past and move on.

And here’s where the problem with Z comes in.  In her eyes, there has been no growth or at least any that she would acknowledge.  I can’t tell you how many times she tossed out a little zinger about me freaking out.  Can you imagine having a DVD of all your worst moments and having to watch it over and over again.  I’ll be charitable and assume this was just an attempt at humor and I would try to ignore these things but I guess I never really could.  I can’t move forward if I’m continually reminded and brought back to the past.

In my own way, I think my subconscious realized this.  It just became all the more obvious when I started working more with the Body Double and 3 of 3.  Suddenly, here were people who didn’t have the long history and who couldn’t dredge up unpleasant memories of my past for their own entertainment.  In so many ways, I meshed so much better with both of them.  As I look back on things, I can remember a lot of rides to the studio when my mind would just start wandering and I would be imagining myself turning around and heading home – but those only happened on lessons with Z.

Even this last week, I was relaxed and truly happy leaving the studio both Monday and Tuesday night after a lesson with the Body Double.  I even had a good conversation with Z about next steps and I thought I was ready and then things fell apart on Wednesday night and I just couldn’t imagine spending the next several months doing what she was making me do.  Again, there were so many parts of me that were telling me that I had to cut this tie or I’d never be able to move on.  So I think that’s why I was finally able to force the issue and that’s where we are.

There’s been some sadness these last two days.  It was not all a trip through hell.  There were good moments.  There were a lot of good moments.  But, I was really only staying because the Body Double doesn’t have the experience so she doesn’t know my open routines and they’ll be a pretty steep learning curve so I felt stuck.  Also, I had to face the fact that I enjoyed the attention we got at Showcases.  But that’s not a reason for staying.  Maybe, in time, we can establish some kind of relationship and perhaps even dance together again because she’s a hard person to dislike even though she’s kind of poison for me right now.  That would be up to her.  I’m sure she feels this all came on a little sudden but its been brewing for a long time and there was no way to stop it.

Well, we did the Argentine Tango at Showstoppers last night and it went well.  I said good bye to the Statue since last night was her last as an instructor.  I actually grabbed her for the last dance of the party and we hugged at the end of the song.

I had a lesson scheduled with Z at 9 but OwnerGuy switched it to the Body Double after the ugliness on Thursday.  We did Mambo and we did timing and I counted the timing.  Why?  Because we did it together!!  Because she didn’t force me to do something uncomfortable.  We started slow but she kept cranking up the speed and I kept up.  And we revisited the Quickstep and started to do counts for that.  The numbers make much more sense to me.  For me, the concept of “filling up the time” now makes sense because you can step on 1 (or 2) and use the other count for some other action.   Kind of knew that already but it just becomes more obvious for me with numbers.

More importantly, I left the studio happy feeling like I had truly accomplished something and feeling like a success.  I’m not saying there still won’t be bad nights in the future but, at least for one night, it made it clear to me that I’ve made the right choice.

I do remain grateful for having the opportunity to work with Z and she did make me a dancer.  But I am still a work in progress and I need to take a new path and that means having to leave her behind.  Tough, painful and sad but I believe it is ultimately necessary and the right thing to do.  But, I hope it is a long, long time before I have another week like this one.


    1. I drew a lot of strength from your example and that sometimes you have to take a sidestep to keep moving forward. Haven’t yet figured out how to deal with the awkwardness when it becomes clear we aren’t dancing together anymore. But, my body is telling me I made the right decision.

  1. In both my amateur and pro experience. I have left teachers and students for whatever reason, or they have left me for another teacher for whatever reason. The first time it happened I was ‘devastated’, but then I thought “you are here to LEARN” so let’s see what the new teacher has to offer – maybe he’ll be better for me, or maybe he’ll be worse but I won’t know until I try. Pros tend, but not always, to pout some when a student chooses another teacher, or parts ways for whatever reason. I have pouted and lamented the loss – not for income’s sake but because I thought of it as my failure to GIVE THEM WHAT THEY WANT, how they want it. Sure, we have to educate sometimes unreal expectations of dance proficiency and the time it’ll take to get that proficiency, but you come to me so I have to help you understand the WHYs of everything I think I need to teach you at this moment in time. Why count, why hold this way, why step that way, why why why. If I can get my student to see WHY I’m teaching a certain thing a certain way for him/her, they can give me better feedback. It’s like a big loop of feedback. Emotions gotta kinda stay out of it. Says the most emotional broad on the planet. Dancing IS weird because you ARE so close physically you must balance the emotional with logic, information, intelligence, and FUN. Always FUN. My teaching day is always fun, but my student’s working days are usually not so much fun. So I have to sneak in some actual learning with that fun! The student/teacher must admire each other. And like and respect goes with that student/teacher relationship. I’ve experienced pure clarity of thought when taught by someone I know for 5 minutes! Somehow they just said the exact thing that I understood and needed to hear, or feel, or see. Other teachers can blab for a week and you’re still like “Huh?” This is why I am a Ballroom Dance Professional. I LOVE.TO.TEACH. It’s not so easy to communicate well when you are either the student or the teacher. Good teachers are always trying to get better. That’s why I love your blog. I have learned A LOT about teaching from you, the student.

    1. Our breakdown was always around the HOW. We’d talk about WHAT I wanted to learn but often the HOW wouldn’t be working. When I brought it up, she’d always hit me with “I’m doing what you said you wanted”.

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