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The first post-divorce dance

Posted Jul 31 2009 6:18pm

images-1 I would never have guessed that one of the most difficult rites of passage after divorce was a first dance with a new man.

If you’re like me, you may have slow danced with very few men other than your husband during your marriage (assuming he danced at all), unless you took dancing lessons that encouraged partner swapping. When I danced with another man it was typically a fast dance where we could do our own thing.

About a year after my divorce, a group of colleagues decided to go country western dancing. I love dancing so enthusiastically accepted the invitation.

One man took many of the gals in his van, with a few other guys saying they’d join us in a little while. After we got settled at a table, the gals began taking turns dancing with our one lone guy.

My turn on the floor with him was to a country two-step, with which I had but minimal familiarity. I felt stiff and awkward, even though my pal tried to lead me. He kept telling me to relax which did the opposite, triggering my feelings of ineptness and wondering if I was missing the “following” gene.

Struggling to stay in step, I was near tears when the song was thankfully over. I wondered why I was so emotional when my friend was just trying to help me have fun.

I realized part of the emotion was my missing the hand-in-glove comfort one feels when having had the same dance partner for decades. You know what to expect. You know his moves. You can relax and just feel the music and the connection to each other.

So I not only felt incompetent, I felt the loss of my companion of 20 years.

Often it’s small things that trigger sadness and loss of the good things from a relationship. And those triggers can be present for years — decades for some people. So if you find yourself getting emotional over something like a dance, don’t blame your partner or yourself. Just be willing to stay with the emotion and look at the core cause.

Sometimes I still feel I’m not the greatest follower. But I work to stay present to what’s going on in the moment and enjoy whatever happens — even if his or my toes get a little mashed along the way.

What have you found to be difficult newly single firsts?

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