I choose me. I’m choosing Olivia. And right now, Olivia is dancing. I’m dancing, Jake. I’m free. Now, you can dance with me, or you can get off my dance floor. I’m fine dancing alone.
I LOVE dancing. I always have. I took lessons when I was younger- at one point, I even entertained the notion of becoming a professional dancer. Now, that was delusional on my part, but I tell you this in order to underscore how very much I love to do it.
It’s hard for me to sit still when a song I love comes on. I am somewhat famous (notorious) for my car dance parties. I am constantly getting busted at traffic lights for rocking out to my (some might say) excessively loud music.
Have you ever been at a function- a wedding, a party, a concert- and the music is playing, but the dance floor is deserted- like, tumbleweed empty? When nobody is inclined to be the first one on the dance floor? And a song you love comes on, and you try and convince whoever you’re with to get up and dance? And they won’t?
That has happened to me many times. I was always the first one who wanted to dance, but was never willing to be the first one out there. I was never willing to go it alone. So I would sit- well, kind of sit. Chair dance, sit. And wait. Resentfully.
That, by the way, is entirely on me. It isn’t anyone else’s job to get my ass on the dance floor. It’s no one else’s responsibility to make sure I don’t miss my favorite song. No one else is to blame if I decide to deprive myself of something that brings me so much joy.
Do you remember how, when you were little, you would dance, without inhibition- by yourself? You wanted to dance, so you just DID. I remember standing in my kitchen, this was years ago, looking out the window into the backyard and watching my daughter twirl. I stood there, just marveling at her joy. She was alone, and happy, and dancing.
I am at a point in my life where I am totally happy to dance alone, if that’s the only way I can dance.
I feel the same way about my relationship.
You know that old adage that love will come when you least expect it? I think that’s a load of malarkey. I mean, it might– but it’s got nothing to do with you being unaware, or distracted by other things.
I think love comes- real love, healthy love- when you are perfectly content to be alone.
I used to hate being alone. It was incredibly uncomfortable. I needed to GO and DO, I needed to be with other people. If I couldn’t be, I was on the phone, or I’d have the tv on, or be busy. I needed SOMETHING to distract me, because stillness and quiet were unbearable. It’s not that your demons don’t whisper in your ear when you’re not alone- but it’s harder to hear them over the chatter.
I really didn’t love myself. I’m not even sure I liked myself, much. If you don’t like yourself, then it stands to reason that you wouldn’t want to spend much time with just you.
The problem with that is if you are unwilling to be alone, you will put up with almost anything in order to avoid it. You will settle for being unhappy- or even just less than happy. You will be a small version of yourself. You will try to fix the unfixable. You will compromise who you are. All in an attempt to hang on, desperately, to a relationship that may or may not be serving you well.
And you will be heartbreakingly lonely.
Alone and lonely are not the same thing. Not even close.
I have been desperately lonely on a crowded dance floor, and completely content dancing in my room by myself. Alone means there is no one else physically present or that you are not in a relationship. Loneliness is a state of mind. Loneliness is being disconnected- from other people, and from your true self.
I feel very connected now. To other people, sure- but I feel connected to me. I feel grounded, and secure in who I am. When that happens, you’d be surprised how little you give a damn about what other people think of you. Which makes it easier to be around other people, and, oddly enough, to be alone. I actively seek out alone time now. I require stretches of silence. I don’t need the hustle and the chatter anymore.
I’m fairly delighted with myself these days. There was a time when I’d have been worried that sounded egotistical, but now I think- that’s EXACTLY how I want my kids to feel about themselves. I want them to think they are fan-damn-tastic. So, I am leading by example. At long last, I like me.
I’ve written before about the relationship I am in now, and the first argument we ever had. When we spoke the next day, I told him how much I loved him, and how much I wanted to be with him- but if it came down to him or me? I’d pick me.
That was huge for me. What was even better was his response. “Good,” he said.
I’m fine being alone. I am madly in love with him. He is my Favorite. He makes me happy every single day. I never get sick of spending time with him. He is good for me, and I think I am good for him.
But if that changed? If it stopped being good? If he left, or I did- as sad as that would be, I would be FINE. I don’t need him in my life, I just really, really want him there.
I do a lot of dancing these days. We dance in the kitchen, we dance on the beach, we dance in the backyard- well, not right now. The snow. Lord have mercy. He’s a great dancer and loves to dance. With me. We dance really well together. I love that. I love that he wants to dance with me- but if that ever changes, I will still be on the dance floor.
I’m fine dancing alone.
In the middle of writing this essay I went to pick my daughter up at school. On the ride home, Dancing Queen by Abba came on. Normally I try to restrain my dancing ways when she is in the car (see, that’s an example of me being an unreliable narrator!) given that she is a teenager and every blessed thing I do is mortifying- but Abba? C’mon. If Abba comes on, I am dancing. Unless it’s Andante, Andante- because that song is straight up creepy. xoxox