September 1, 2016

Remembering to Dance: Starting Life again—Single.

My core was slightly shaky. Life had changed quickly and my heart and soul were playing catch up with my spirit, who always knows exactly how to trudge on.

But honestly, change had come, and it had arrived with such force and speed that it left me questioning the purpose of my life—and what kind of new one I was going to create. This happens when the person we imagined being with forever is gone.

There was an empty space in my bed and a massive gulf of a hole inside of me too. Where once his spirit stood, there was an absence, a longing and an unknown.

I missed him and was experiencing serious touch withdrawal. Often my hands became too shaky to write, but I kept telling myself this physical experience was part of my letting go—and of eventually welcoming someone new.

This is what happens when we separate from another, our body goes through a process of transformation—a transformation from an “us” to a “me.” It would take the passing of days and some sipping of well-aged wine, but eventually we become our own selves again.

The first time I went out without him, it was to a darkened bar just down the road. A friend was playing in a band, and I told myself, “I can do this. I can go out solo.”

It felt like my heart skipped into my mouth as I stepped outside of my new home. It’s the little things after a separation that are the strangest to get used to. There was no one holding my hand. No one to consult on my outfit. No one to help decide on what time to arrive or when to leave It was just me, and I wasn’t sure entirely what “me” liked anymore.

I hesitated at the entrance to the bar when the doorman asked for my ID. I felt embarrassed that I was on my own, like it was obvious that I had somehow failed at life because I was again single and not in my 20s anymore.

“Just do it,” I said to myself. “Go—you have to begin again at some point. Be brave.”

So after telling the doorman I needed a moment, I took a deep breath and said, “Okay, I’m in.”

I don’t think that doorman knew the power behind these words—but I did. I was “in”—in to discovering again who the hell “single me” was.

Next task: decide what “me” liked to drink, and get it. I asked the bartender for the strongest and biggest beer they had—it seemed reasonable to not do this night entirely sober.

Next step: find the darkest corner to drink in, while I figured out what the step after that would be. I breathed in deeply, and let it out.

I saw people I knew on the dance floor, but without my partner they didn’t seem to recognize me.

It feels like this when we are newly single, like we are slightly invisible—faceless. We know we still have a body, but our identity is questionable.

My friends band began to play, and the music was good. It got me swaying. I laughed at the feeling that was moving through me, the rhythm that was calling to my body, “Dance!”

I felt scared to follow it. I was worried I would look silly or out of place. I was concerned I would be seen as that older, single woman, alone at the bar, enjoying herself too much.

I swallowed those fears. Did it matter?

There was a woman standing next to me, and I heard a voice in me say, “Talk to her.”

“Do you know the band?” I asked.

She said she knew the drummer, “Sort of.”

“Do you mind if I stand with you?” I inquired. “I’m recently single and having anxiety being here on my own. I feel scared and out of place and everything is new again.”

“Sure,” she said and waved me over.

We chatted—she told me she loved going to shows by herself. She said, “It’s empowering.”

I hung onto that last word like a freshly thrown life vest.

Right—empowering. Maybe I wasn’t a fool or a failure after all.

She asked me if I wanted to dance at the front, and I said, “Yes!”

I danced. I moved my body to the music that flowed through the air and straight into my soul. And I smiled—truly smiled—for the first time in weeks.

And I remembered, I loved to dance—that I used to be the woman who danced. I was her when I met my ex—in fact, that is how we met—I was dancing. It turned out in the end that he was not a big dancer, so as a couple I began to say no to opportunities to let my body rock and roll, to let it vibrate and shake.

For we do this—we forget certain things about ourselves when we become coupled with another. We tend to ignore the little or large pulls inside of us, in order to fulfill our goal of being together, as part of an “us.”

But slowly, the “me” does come back if we allow space, bravery and a new rhythm for it; a fresh chance, and our new life can begin again.


Author: Sarah Norrad

Image: Instagram @brooklynmusicclub

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina


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