Work and dance class

atlanta_tango_art_salsa_artist_salsa_dance_event_atlanta_georgia_art_fine_art_paintingsToday I was a failure and also a success.

I bored my boss / client in our working meeting – he kept yawning uncontrollably. I felt it was my fault. Then afterwards, I thought, if it had been me yawning uncontrollably, I’d have felt it was my fault also, for being down or whatever.

My job involves editing and re-writing policies where I often don’t understand the content, so I have meetings with managers to try and figure things out, in this case my boss. It can be painful to work through these documents. You have to sit with not knowing the answers, uncertain about what should be done. It’s quite painful until it starts coming together.  I figure that’s part of why they pay me, an outsider, to do this. Even though I don’t have to work endless hours, often when I do work I have to endure work that is difficult and ambiguous.

My boss is new to this kind of work, though he’s worked for the organization for many years, so he knows the subject. He is not used to dealing with the difficulties.

Or maybe I’m a boring person. I’m going to try and make our next meeting better. Maybe I’m somehow not allowing his creativity? Or squashing him somehow? I feel bad torturing someone, even if it’s just an hour’s meeting, lol. We meet again tomorrow – hope I can find a bit of a different approach. I value collaborating with him, because trying to figure this document out by myself is torturous.

The second failure and yet success was my salsa class. I dragged myself there after work. It’s only an hour, and it’s close to home. I dosed myself with xanax in the hopes that this time I would not dissociate. I was a lot calmer, but started also feeling immensely sad. I wonder if a deep sadness lies underneath all the anxiety.

You dance with partners, changing partners every few minutes. They’re mostly quite young men, there with their girlfriends. All my issues with my appearance come up. Of course, to them I am immensely old and ugly. Sigh. And then, I’m kind of slow to learn. I keep missing steps, so I’m not an ideal partner. Some of them aren’t too great either though.

I like the tips I get – holding the frame, keeping my body steady. It feels like keeping boundaries between myself and my partner. I like how there are ways of doing everything, so you don’t have to guess. It can give a kind of calmness when you just float along, doing the steps the instructor calls out, without having to think.

Being that close to a bunch of men is new too. I know it feel somewhat dangerous to me, but I also think it’s good practice. It’s very safe.

One part that hurt my feelings – the instructor took turns with all the women, and when you’re his partner, he dances with you to instruct everyone else. When it was my turn, he demonstrated with another student instead of me – I’m not that great. I think I was the only one where he did that. Also one of the fellows there made a comment that was somewhat hurtful.

So what. I’m a success because I went despite being tired from work and despite my pretty huge fears. Learning to move somewhat gracefully to music is a good thing. I want to inhabit my body more, and this is a good way of trying to do that. I wish sometimes I could just slow it down more, or take a break when I need, but with just one hour, and partners depending on me, it’s not possible. Still I did good and I am proud of myself.

Art: Tango II Corey Barksdale

  1. Gel said:

    This was exciting for me to read….about your description of the dance class. I can relate to a lot of it. I’m really impressed that you went to the class. It can be really challenging to take a dance class. So many issues and fears can come up. But also so rewarding.

    Did you know that social dance like salsa and ballroom dance etc. is the very best antidote to age related decline. It’s because it combines so many important skills into one activity. There’s the fitness aspect of moving. Your brain has to work in lots of ways to deal with rhythm, and kinesthetic awareness, and navigating interpersonal stuff with other people and just getting to touch people in a safe context.

    I also like the structure of these kinds of dances. It is a safe feeling. A safe way to be in one’s body and in relationships.

    I bet you are really good at your job.

    All kinds of success here!!!

    • Ellen said:

      Thanks Gel. I didn’t know all that. It is quite scary for me, so I need the meds for the moment to make it bearable. However, once I get used to it, I’m hoping I’ll calm down. My issues with men and touch have definitely come up. I figure it’s a good place to learn things about that. Thanks for the encouragement.

  2. Hope said:

    Maybe he was yawning because he didn’t sleep well last night, or his cat woke him up early for food, or his neighbors were playing loud music all night. You never know.

    Basically, maybe it wasn’t your fault.

    • Ellen said:

      I don’t think it was my fault, I agree. I did mention it, and he said he’d had a good night’s sleep, so didn’t know why he was yawning. He blamed the fact that he forgot his coffee at his desk.

      I kind of think there was something in our interaction that wasn’t great, but that’s not to say it’s all me either. Thanks for commenting.

  3. I have had many agonizing moments in dance class, too! In my case it was swing dancing. I was pretty uncoordinated and never really got any better, even after two years of lessons! And you don’t really know what the young dudes are thinking, might be “hey she’s my mum’s age and it’s pretty cool she’s taking dance lessons…” Just sayin’….


    So… about “I was a failure…” I think maybe a little reframing might help. As in “Today, I felt like I was a failure…” because really you are feeling like a failure but it’s not something you *are* … maybe that will give a little distance to the painful emotions that are being triggered. It’s a little thing but for me I find it makes a big difference.

    I once had a job interview and the head of HR yawned loudly and noticeably every two minutes in the hour long interview. I thought at the time… “For sure I didn’t get this job and boy I must have really bored her” and then I talked to a friend who also interviewed for the job and she had the yawn-y person too. And I did get the job. So from that I learned that there are all kinds of reasons for tiredness and they have nothing to do with me. (Actually, there are all kinds of reasons for all kinds of scenarios…) It was after lunch, so maybe she had eaten a big lunch and was in a mid-afternoon dip, with not enough sleep the night before. So… I think when we have experienced trauma we want to make everything our fault. It’s one of those horrible legacies of abuse.

    • Ellen said:

      That’s really interesting about the dance lessons. We’re obviously sisters in unco-ordination then. I suspect it’s anxiety that’s getting in my way also, to some extent. Fear makes it difficult to pay attention. And I totally don’t know what they’re thinking, for sure. My social anxiety is kicking in big time, so I fear the worst. Plus if I’m wooden, and flubbing the steps, it’s not helping.

      It’s true – this wasn’t a failure at all. I thought about that after I posted. It’s basically all good stuff, plus my anxiety thrown into the mix.

      Funny about your job interview. I don’t think the yawning was my fault, especially after I wrote about it. But I think we were having a bit of a problematic interaction….I feel like in my meetings, it’s to some extent up to me to have a collegial relationship going on – where everyone feels comfortable, if possible. So I wanted to try and see if I could make that happen here. And today’s meeting had a much better feeling to it.

      Thanks for sharing your stories and thoughts Catherine.

  4. Ashana M said:

    I think to the young men you’re old and either charming or a kind of non-entity–just off the radar. I think that’s how many young men might see older women.

    Also, I’m thinking maybe your boss has a young child at home who was sick all night or he has bad insomnia. Bored people don’t necessarily yawn.

    The people around you aren’t perfect either–the young men you’re dancing with might still be too shallow to enjoy being with. Your boss may either lack tact or have insomnia. You can have compassion for them as well–the way you’ve had more compassion for yourself. I am always reminded me of that opening line of the Great Gatsby, “Whenever you are tempted to judge other people, just remember they might not have had the advantages you’ve had.” I don’t know if that connection makes sense, but I do always think about what people are missing out on in life when their faults also make my life less pleasant and that gives me some compassion for them. As difficult as my life has been, I’ve been blessed in other ways that also make life easier on me that other people don’t have. On the other hand, other people’s lives are sometimes harder than you’ll ever know. I guess I suggest that not because I think you’re being hard on them–you’re not, you’re just feeling like people don’t like you or appreciate you–but because compassion can somehow change the equation of how it all feels. You’re an ordinary, imperfect person. If someone can’t like you or appreciate you, it’s not your fault–it’s their failing and it’s probably a larger failing. You wouldn’t be the only person they are judging too harshly and those judgments limit them. I don’t think I’m explaining very well…

    • Ellen said:

      It’s true about young men.

      I asked him about the yawning at the time, and he said he’d had a good night’s sleep, but blamed missing his coffee.

      I like your ideas on compassion. Thank you Ashana

  5. Cat said:

    I think it’s brilliant that you pushed past your fears

    • Ellen said:

      Me too. 🙂 Thanks Cat

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