My husband bought me tickets for Christmas. But these weren't just any tickets. These were ballroom dancing tickets. For eight weeks.
Most women would be enthralled with the idea of a romantic evening with their sweetheart, being swept off their feet, dancing the night away.
Ballroom dancing is the bane of my existence. I hate couples dancing, especially of the ballroom kind. Independent dancing, like tap or hip hop, is something I can handle. Granted, I have two left feet, so I end up looking more like Elaine than anything else. But hey, at least I enjoy it. They don't say, "Dance like nobody's watching" for nothing, you know!
On Christmas morning I stared down at those tickets in my hand and a lump formed in my throat. But not the good kind where you're overclemped with joy. Oh no, this was the bad kind. The kind that said, "If you open your mouth you WILL puke."
I fought back tears as I stared at those tickets. The tickets that threatened me with not one, not two, not three but eight - EIGHT - weeks of misery! How could I possibly tell my husband how miserable his kind gesture made me feel? How could I remind him that every time we took ballroom dancing in the past we only argued and bickered? How could I tell him that the anxiety I felt was doing nothing short of ruining my Christmas? How could he have been so inconsiderate!
So in my normal passive-aggressive fashion, I did some quiet murmuring and drew a hot bath where I could sulk in my misery. Christmas day passed in a blur and so did the weeks leading up to our first class.
Then the dreaded day came where I had to face it all and pay the piper. I went to the class with a chip on my shoulder, and anxiety tearing me up inside. Two of my worst fears were coming true: I'd have to tolerate couples dancing and I'd have to perform in front of people.
I know, I did tons of theatre and with all my experience on stage it should have been no big deal. Trust me, it was. Ever since I fell ill and put on a lot of weight, I started to feel even more self conscious. That combined with the fact that I look like an uncoordinated elephant when I dance was enough to make me want to curl into the fetal position in the corner of the room. Or hurl. Possibly both.
That first night was rough. But we made it through. My husband only had a few scratches...and a broken heart.
Being the kind-hearted person that he is, he was willing to forgo the remaining 7 weeks. But being the kind-hearted person that I am, I saw how that sacrifice broke his heart. So I swallowed my anxiety - and my pride - and attended lessons on the following weeks.
There were some difficult nights in there, but there were some really wonderful nights, too.
Yes, there were wonderful nights of dancing! I never thought I'd admit it but I found that once I got into it I didn't really care who watched and I ended up having fun.
But the best classes were the ones where I let my husband take control. As you know, in ballroom dancing, the male always takes the lead and the woman follows. Well, for anyone that knows me understands how difficult that is! I'm a take-charge kind of woman! I take the lead, I work hard and everything falls into place, eventually. So giving up control was really difficult for me. It felt unnatural at first and to be honest, I felt like I'd betrayed myself.
By the last three weeks of class my husband had taken the lead in our dancing partnership. And I'd let him. Without arguing. We danced better, smoother and were more in control of our movement. There's a reason that men should lead in these kinds of things, especially when the woman has two left feet!
My husband didn't step on my toes or spin me out of control. He didn't laugh at my mistakes or judge me for being uncoordinated.
This taught me a very valuable lesson about myself.
It's okay to trust others. (Ironically, that's the theme of Little Dead Riding Hood, book two in the Scarily Ever Laughter series.)
Not only is it okay to trust others, but it's okay to let them lead - yes, sometimes it's okay to step down and allow others to have control. It's amazing the growth and learning that you will acquire.
So I'm glad my husband bought me those dance lessons for Christmas. I'm grateful for what they taught me about myself.
This year I hope he buys me tickets to Ireland. I'm sure I can learn something very interesting about myself there, too!