I have recently been looking at some of my romantic notions and their origins so that I could choose what to keep and what to let go as I move forward in my life. Contemplating my former addiction to Jane Austen novels and, of course, Mr Darcy, together with my unceasing search for the one, lead me back to my very early childhood and the many times I danced with my Father.
My Dad assures me he used to sing to me and dance with me as a baby and I recall feeling a great sorrow around age 9 when suddenly there was no longer the physical affection there had been prior to this time. When my Dad started to waltz with me as a teenager, this seemed to me a return to those times of warmth and affection. I enjoyed the feeling of being nestled in his arms, although I was advised quite often it’s the man who takes the lead.
Reflecting on these early experiences revealed a surprisingly large can of emotional worms.
There was the association from childhood of feeling warmth and a sense of protection, but also a sense of holding back from self-expression, of being the second and lesser part of the dancing dyad. No equality here! It felt very exclusive, just the two of you in your own world, whirling around the dance floor with other couples, also in their own worlds.
This led me to consider the energetic quality of Romance and how it too is exclusive and separative of others. The endless search for ‘the one’ had me on an unrelenting quest for an ideal man who would complement his ideal female counterpart: me! To become the ideal of my fictitious and ever elusive ideal man meant that I had constantly to conform to what is deemed ideal in magazines, on TV, in music groups and even at work. I was lost to myself and held other women in that same quality by continuously comparing myself to them and they to me – which of us was scoring more highly as the ideal woman? And this led to the inevitable jealousy that always arises when two or more compare themselves to an ideal benchmark: one of them has to be less than the other, that’s how the game works. This game was a constant drain personally and financially.
But this is Romance and I have always been known as a great romantic, with that offered as a compliment!
Despite all this, the belief in the exclusivity of two persisted, creating a driving need for the constant search to find ‘The One’ with whom I could find true love. I used to say openly that I would marry the one who could waltz like my father. Behind that was a sense of protection without sexual expectation. This was what I called being honoured as a woman and even this limited honouring was all one way, from the man to the woman or girl. In retrospect, it was more a kind of homage to someone who had sold out to an empty and exhausting ideal; my role as a woman was simply to accept my smallness in exchange for a little bit of homage. There was a huge sense of neediness in this, of the woman as settling for the security of male protection and not claiming a life of her own. This also perpetuated the belief of the woman being solely the reflection of the man whose role it is to offer the honouring that is so desperately sought.
As all of this unfolded I was amazed by how much mental and emotional energy, as well as the physical, can be associated with an apparently innocuous and socially acceptable dance. It’s one of the highlights of most wedding ceremonies! I remain amazed by how a simple repetitive sequence of steps is used to confirm a larger creation and endorsement of a whole lifestyle that has held me and so many others as small and insignificant, as being ‘nothing without a man,’ while the man is relegated to the status of protector, he who brings safety and has the responsibility of completely validating the woman.
This had been my ideal and also the ideal of many men and women in western culture, celebrated at engagements, weddings, Valentine’s Day, anniversaries – the apparently ideal relationship between a man and a woman.
Ideals do not a relationship make. They take the focus away from the people and into the head for an extended round of box ticking. My experience has been that the pursuit of the romantic ideal ruthlessly and voraciously crushes the natural love and affection between two people. We become the puppets of its expectation.
Letting go of these insidious ideals occurred for me through attending True Movement (*) sessions hosted by Universal Medicine, where I learned to connect with, and to honour myself, before making any movement with a partner who is similarly connected with themselves. Moving in this way allows us to meet ourselves, our partner and all others in the room without need and without idealism. The strength, purity and true honour I experienced in this completely revealed the falsity of the romantic waltz and other couple dances I had engaged in during my life. When these movements occur in a room full of people all expressing from the same basis, I have had a sense of true inclusiveness of everyone. This completely smashed for me the desire for romantic couple exclusivity and isolation I had unwittingly searched for.
From now on all my dances start this way. Holding myself and honouring myself as ‘the one’ allows the honouring of all others in complete equality, without idealism, without competitiveness and without comparison.
And so, having finally found ‘The One’, I move, truly, away from the waltz of romantic idealism…
by Coleen Hensey, Teacher, Tamborine Mountain, Australia
These sessions focus on each person connecting with themselves before any movement is made. Moving in connection with ourselves allows us to connect with a partner as we move in a dance like manner, and also with all others in the room.