I'm taking tango...again. I first started about 10 years ago. I still remember my first lesson learning the basic step with Monica Caivano at Aztlan Dance Company. She's now my sisterfriend and runs her spot, Esquina Tango, on the East Side of Austin. I've started and stopped countless times! I own 3 pairs of tango shoes and haven't had them fixed once. One time I even cried on the dance floor when I wasn't ready.
Much has been written about the art, technique, meaning, and psychology of tango. In speaking my truth, I learned last week that the extra strength in my arm and shoulders did not make for a good partner embrace.
The instructor said, "It's a defense mechanism. You needed it somewhere before. You don't need it anymore." Talk about therapeutic.
I realized that, indeed, I misconstrued strength and "holding my own." I assumed the leader would not listen. In reality, I hadn't actually "listened" to the leader before making up my mind. I was using my defense before it was even necessary. Comical and curious at times, some leaders humored me with their patience. And some leaders walked away.
I'm learning. I'm breaking the muscle memory consciously. And it isn't easy. Correction; it isn't familiar yet.
With practice, I will make permanent the new memory of listening. I will hold my own in my core (not my shoulders or arms!) and I give myself permission to walk away if the leader does do those things I don't like. I reserve my energy by engaging consciously in the moments that I feel safe. Therapeutic indeed.