The Final Curtain Call

I’ve been in a very long relationship.  25 years to be exact.  When it was new, and even 15 years after it began, it was exciting and full of adventures.  It wasn’t without difficulty; no relationship is.  But it defined me, both the good and bad.  I knew it was important.  Life changing.  Lasting.

About 8 years ago things changed.  Suddenly I was putting in much more than I was getting out of it.  I was holding on for dear life as I reflected on the memories, thinking every day that things could be like they used to.  I would spend hours that I didn’t have planning how I was going to make this part of me as important as it was in the beginning.  Not only important for ME, but I needed everyone else to see how important this was.  How RIGHT for each other we were.  I had a distinct, tear-filled moment when I said out loud for the first time that this needed to end.  But of course that wasn’t the end.

Before I get too much further let me clarify that the relationship I’m talking about is my relationship with dance.

This might seem a very bizarre comparison to almost everyone who may read this.  But to me, my broken relationship with dance is as heartbreaking as any human relationship that has ever ended.

How many of you have experienced finally realizing that a love you’ve been holding on to for so long is just destined for destruction?  How much time did you waste trying to get something back that was clearly over?  I know this is how I felt with my first love (person-to-person love).  I literally held on to this relationship for nearly 6 years and every time I felt it slipping away I would get out the pictures, write an email, make a phone call, anything to remind myself, and him, that the connection we’d had had been real, and possibly could be real again one day.  Even if it meant we were just close friends.

It might be hard to believe, but I think my relationship with dance runs as deeply and passionately as almost any relationship I have ever had, or will ever have, in my lifetime.  And I’m realizing now, slowly over these last years, that dance and I are no longer “in a relationship”.  I’ve spent 8 years maintaining a friendship that is never going anywhere.  As with other REAL relationships, I’ve told myself that its ok to be “just friends”.  And maybe for some this works out.  I’ve heard people talk even about ex-husbands with whom they have managed to stay friends.  Today I’m thinking that I just need to rip the bandaid off and cut ties for good.  I LOVE it to much to be just friends.  Its too painful for me.

Last week after returning home from a Zumba class (taught by someone other than myself) I received an message from the instructor (who I had a previous agreement with that neither of us would have to pay for each other’s classes) asking if I could start giving him some money for his classes.  Classes that I had been appearing as a “guest instructor” in since my own leave from teaching.  I responded to him that I’d be happy to pay, and that in fact he did not need to have me teach in his class any longer.  This was my dramatic-girl way of being spiteful.  Fine, if you want me to pay, then you don’t get to enjoy the pleasure and professionalism of my teaching (Apparently I wasn’t actually “happy to pay”).  I returned to class yesterday, having forgotten to bring any cash, and spent the whole time rationalizing inside myself why I SHOULDN’T have to pay for this class.  I can dance and teach every bit as good or better!  I should be getting PAID for this, not paying.  I felt sick inside and ended up just leaving early because I couldn’t handle the feeling any longer.

Have you ever tried hanging out with an ex after a breakup while he’s with his new girlfriend?  This felt similar.

I believe my initial reason for not just letting go once I started having children was just in case an opportunity for a career opened up for me once my childbearing years had ended, I’d still be capable of dancing–If you’ve ever been able to do the splits, you know how quickly you lose this ability if you don’t do it every day–I also needed my foot in the door just enough so that when people thought “I need a ballet teacher for my daughter” I would be the first person they’d come to.

Now here is my dilemma: All I have EVER done, since I was 5 years old, was dance.  Dance classes, performances, teaching, choreographing.  That’s it.  At least its all I’ve ever done that I felt like I couldn’t live without.  I recently made a comment on Facebook stating that I was bored and needed a new hobby, to which I received MANY responses, some with suggestions like “How about knitting?”, but most of which said something sounding like “How can you be BORED?! You have 4 children!”  So I guess I should clarify.

I’m not Bored.  I’m lonely.

I have the post-breakup blues.  I need something to fill the void that was left when I stopped being on stage.  And I assume that, just like an actual breakup, eventually you “meet someone new” and forget why you worked so hard to hold on to the past.  And also like an actual breakup, it takes completely letting go to be able to be on the market again.  Essentially this is why I started this blog in the first place, and named it as such.

The Girl I Mean To Be.

So who am I now?  Without dance.  I’m on the market for a new me.