Happy Feet Friday

9:28 AM Edit This 7 Comments »
There's no picture today. There doesn't need to be. Because my feet? Are basically happy most all the time. Especially because they get to go dancing! Last night, Dancing Queen and I were introduced to a new, slightly older gentleman that is thinking about coming to swing dance lessons next week. We're both pretty friendly women, so we asked him to join us at our table and probably interrogated him a little too much, but hey! We need more dancers, so we want him to feel welcome. And then he said it. IT. The phrase that I am/was/could be guilty of uttering just a few too many times in the last four months of learning to dance. "But I'm really shy." And Dancing Queen laughed, pointed to me and said, "Well. We fixed HER. I'm pretty sure we can fix YOU, too." And then I told him how awful it was for me in the beginning. Trying so hard to feel brave and friendly and talk to strangers, much less ASK THEM TO DANCE and then LET THEM TOUCH ME. And that now? Four months later? It's second nature. And to hang in there and it would get better. He didn't seem to believe me, but that's okay. If he sticks around, he'll get that sense of ease that I enjoy now, too.

I never thought I'd feel comfortable doing any of this dancing stuff. This guy taught me the basics in his living room - out of the public eye. I would have been perfectly happy to continue the living room dancing and never going out. But nothing doing. We started going country dancing on the weekends. Me, mostly sitting unless he asked me to dance. Feeling awkward and horrid and alone. And occasionally, I'd work up enough courage to ask someone else to dance. Then promptly sit down and spend the next 45 minutes trying to work up enough courage to ask someone else. It was awful.

About a month into this adventure, we took a trip to Omaha and I got to meet a whole bunch of other dancers at Jitterbugs Night Out. Again - the shyness was horrible, but at that venue, everyone asks everyone else to dance, so I got to dance quite a bit even though I did none of the asking. I still felt awkward and new. I didn't realize that the real dancers? They don't care and they're thrilled to have new people join them.

Then I took some Lindy Hop lessons from this guy. And found out that I'm not a horrible dancer, and in fact, I'm pretty okay and I learn super fast! And for some reason, that finally gave me the confidence to start exploring the dance scene a little more. I quit going country dancing because frankly? The bar is icky and the drunk people make me uncomfortable. The dancers weren't drunk, but being in that environment just - well - I didn't like it. So there. And then salsa and swing dance lessons started up at another bar across town that I don't mind. There's rarely super drunk people there when we're there. I like that.

Then I got SUPER BRAVE and went to Lindy in the Park in Omaha on my way home from Des Moines. ALL BY MYSELF. And this woman was kind enough to meet me there and talk me through the one way streets once I got off the interstate. Plus, she let me sit with her. I still need a little hand holding. But I think that event was the turning point for me. I can do it! I can ask people to dance. I can ask STRANGERS to dance. Strangers who are incredible dancers! Hell, I danced in front of 20,000 people at Jazzfest last weekend. That's a far cry from the living room.

I'm still shy in some situations, but I had no idea that dancing would change the way that I look at myself in relation to other people. That I can be the one that's friendly and welcoming and I don't have to wait for someone to make ME feel comfortable. That I'm a desirable person to be around. (!) Really. People like me. (Don't think this is not a huge revelation. Because it is.) And that I can indeed access the woman that I used to be and not have to get drunk to be her.

I think about all the things that I've gone through since Jason died. The year of drinking in the closet, my first year in recovery where I was terrified most of the time, rarely doing anything social unless my sponsor dragged me along and promised to sit next to me and not let strangers talk to me. The second year of recovery during which I clung to my wider circle of friends in the program, feeling the most secure at the club or at a fellowship event surrounded by people I knew. Now this year? I'm branching out and even though it was horribly uncomfortable in the beginning? I'm starting to feel more like myself. Like I used to. Confident. Outgoing. Caring. Not as wrapped up in how I look or appear. I'm not "there" yet, but dancing has helped me turn a corner. One that I didn't even know was there to be turned.

And just to prove that dancing is a sickness, I'm going on vacation in Northern Minnesota in a couple weeks and darned if I didn't spend four hours yesterday googling swing dancing in the Brainerd Lakes Area. And I FOUND IT. AND I'M TOTALLY GOING. They're everywhere. And I don't have to be scared anymore. So there.


Bob said...

Kate, reborn.

absolutely lovely.

Summer said...

Sounds like you're having a ball, Girlie.

Sparkling Red said...

Yay! Kick up your heels, m'lady, and enjoy!

Sarah said...

You really should've seen me before I started getting into dancing. I'd hide away and hope that no one would notice me. And it took a long time of dancing before I got away from that. Like about 4 years or so. I'm glad to be able to watch/be a part of your transformation. ^___^

GreenCanary said...

All that talk about strangers and touching strangers just made me pee my pants. Holy crap almighty. You'll need to hold my hand, Katie-did.

BrianAlt said...

I think you just posted your first 100% honest to goodness Happy Feet Friday.

-Peder said...