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Tuesday, September 21, 2010


There isn’t supposed to be any talking. Just bodies and the language of movement. But he bent down to whisper in my ear after our song ended, our bodies untangled. “You surrender so easily,” he said. I suspect he meant that I’m easy to dance with. That I’m good at knowing how to follow.

But I can’t seem to let it go. I’ve been thinking about what surrender means. Since I felt the warm breathe that planted those words in my ear, I’ve been searching my brain to identify other places where I surrender. Because I see the dance floor as a microcosm.

I watch and anticipate what comes next. I’m good at it--on the dance floor and elsewhere in life. I think it is part of being a parent. Anticipating what a child needs before they can speak. Anticipating others' needs is a worthy skill, up to a point anyway. Until anticipating my kids’ needs spiraled outward into other relationships and my identity was slowly scraped away like a heavily used piece of sidewalk chalk. Eventually all that was left of me was a drawing on the ground: you could see my outside, but on the inside, I was blank. I was completely defined by others. I had completely surrendered my own needs. I had to send myself to therapy last time that happened.

Things are better now. Being on my own for a year and a half has given me shape and substance. It forced me to figure out how to color inside that line, to define myself. I like dancing. I like taking pictures with my big camera. I like rollerskating in Golden Gate Park. I like indie music AND Top 40 dance music (and the latter doesn't make me a bad person). I pay my bills. I pack lunches and take my kids to school. I go to class and do my homework. I keep food in the fridge, toilet paper in the bathrooms, and gas in the car.

I sleep alone (most of the time).

I learned how to live on my own. I learned how to be by myself. I learned that it gets easier over time. I learned that it’s okay to cry a lot. I learned how to pick myself up and comfort myself. I learned that staying home is harder than going out. I learned that distracting myself doesn’t make a problem go away. I learned that going to the movies is a good thing to do by myself on a Friday night. I learned to forgive myself for being imperfect, for the mistakes I've made. I learned that I deserve to be happy. I learned that I’m pretty. I learned that I will not settle. I learned that whoever I end up with is a lucky man. I learned that sometimes I need to be selfish. I learned to love myself.

So if I’m all of those things, and I’ve grown so much, what does it mean that I surrender easily?

Even if his idea of surrender just applied to dance, it has prompted me to revisit the world I’ve created and the balance I believe I’m maintaining. As a result, I’m thinking about boundaries and the give and take in my relationships. It’s good to make sure I’m still taking care of myself and not drifting towards old, familiar habits. I guess I don't like the word surrender because it means giving up. And I have no plans to do that. In fact, I'm just getting started.