Linda Zukauskas is a writer and editor (and Splitopia.com contributor) who lives in Connecticut. She divorced in 2008, and said that reclaiming partner dancing as a single helped her re-establish her post-divorce identity.
When I was married, I asked my husband to do a ballroom dance class with me. He agreed, and the teachers asked if we’d be in a showcase. We did that with a few other couples and it was fun.
After the divorce, I decided to take a few lessons on my own. There was a chance to do a showcase, and I signed up, my first showcase without my once-spouse. The dance itself was public and in a huge ballroom. The support of fellow students was the same as the time I’d danced with my husband, but I wasn’t half of a couple. I was me in this experience. It was a different experience on many levels, not the least of which was that I was able to be me and relax. There were no arguments with my dance partner. He was a professional and all about enjoying the dance. We had no problems lurking beneath the surface.
After that weekend, I was able to think and talk about ballroom without having to qualify my dancing experience as something I'd done when married. I realized I could rewrite history without erasing it. It’s okay to do something for yourself. Even though it might have started in the past, the result can be all about the present and the future.
Taking lessons let me meet others, people who also made a lot of mistakes on the floor. It's okay to make mistakes. Even the pros mess up. As my dance teacher said, "You just smile through it." I’m not saying pretend you’re happy, but you can smile through some bad stuff and gracefully accept where you are at that moment. You’ll get better.
To me, a good divorce is one that doesn’t rip apart either person. It doesn’t have anything to do with whether they talk after the divorce or not. It’s about getting through that tough time with respect for each other as human beings, who have real feelings. It’s about talking through problems and not attacking with lawyers or verbal threats or physical harm.
The dance is just one aspect of redefining myself. I don’t think there is one thing you do or one item you buy. It’s a process. The evolving doesn’t stop.