When It’s Time To Say Goodbye

You’ve probably noticed that things have been pretty slow the last couple of months here around the Biggest Girl In The Ballroom.

I’m pretty sure I mentioned in a previous post that things have been blah.  There wasn’t much I felt like writing about.  I’ve still been chugging along but without much direction and purpose.  After my last competition the energy of things just, well, changed.  And it’s not like I can really put my finger on it.

There just wasn’t any fire on lessons with Ivan.  I thought maybe we could spark a change by trying Smooth.  Or doing a showcase routine.  I even commissioned the beginning of a dress in the hopes that we would have something to work toward.  But underneath it all, things just felt stuck.  Really stuck.  No excitement, no movement forward.  No passion.  We were just going through the motions and for me, that simply doesn’t cut it.

I thought maybe I was just depressed, or needed a break.  So I took a break.  But when I decided to have a lesson again, it was just as dead as ever.  Whatever spark or connection Ivan and I once had, it had gone, or changed, and it was apparent.  I don’t know how else to describe it except to say that sometimes we are supposed to do work with a certain person for a certain amount of time.  Sometimes relationships come to completion.  And weirdly, that’s what’s happened to me, I think.  Yes, I’m saying it.  Ivan and I are no longer going to be dancing together.  We’ve had a “divorce.”

I know, right?  It’s so weird.  I thought I’d be dancing with Ivan until I was 70 years old and gray.  He’s helped me grow so much.  He’s pulled things out of me I never knew were there.  He broke down walls I’d erected that no other person had breached before.  He has been a blessing and a gift, a mentor and a friend, a teacher and partner. I would never, ever be where I am today without the help and influence of this human being in my life, nor without that of his wife, Marieta.

Thankfully, we parted amicably.  Thankfully, we were actually on the same page when we got to talking about it.  And it’s not like there is any issue to resolve or something to “fix” – that’s not it at all.  It’s just, I have come to believe after a lot of introspection and contemplation, that we both have to grow in different ways.  And I guess we have to grow separately.

I’m sure you can imagine this has been a lot to process.  It was a surprise, though not a surprise.  I didn’t necessarily expect that last Saturday would be my last lesson with Ivan, but I guess it was, at least for the time being.  I showed up and he said, “What do you want to work on today,” and I was like, “I just want to see how it goes today,” and that started the conversation.  We talked, honestly, and toward the end we danced a little.  But it was disjointed, not connected.  It was a bittersweet goodbye.

I’m not gonna lie.  I totally cried.  But all in all, I’m mostly thankful for how it all went down.  Ivan said he was proud of the work we’ve done over the last 3 years, that other teachers would be glad to work with me, and he basically gave me his blessing to move on.  Trust me, it wasn’t all peaches and rainbows, and some of it stung, but it’s probably about as drama-free of a separation as could be.

So I took some time to grieve.  My husband was super loving and supportive and kind and took me out to dinner and a movie and let me talk it out.  He validated my decision as did a few other close friends.  I’ve been processing the ramifications of this decision for the past week.

I thought I’d take some time off from ballroom, perhaps, and get laser focused on my weight-training, workouts, and diet.  I thought maybe I wouldn’t even dance anymore, that maybe I was just done with it.  But that didn’t seem entirely correct, because it’s been such a driving force in my life and because sharing my experiences has affected so many other people.  However, I didn’t expect things to coalesce as quickly as they have.

Obviously since I wasn’t clear that I was leaving Ivan until Saturday last I wasn’t out looking for a new instructor.  However, I know most of the instructors in town that I’d be interested in working with.  The big question, then, was would they be willing or able to work with me?  Some instructors already have a dancer my age and level or have full schedules.  Not to mention different locations, prices, teaching styles, or personalities that may or may not work with mine.

In any case, I immediately thought of Damir.  I’ve written about him before since I’ve gone to a few of his workshops and he has always been a positive and supportive figure since I met him.  One of my philosophies in life is “choose and move.”   This means, take as long as necessary to “be in the question” but once you come to a decision, take urgent action.

It’s funny how things pan out, though.   I do think taking action is important and it sets things in motion.  However, it doesn’t always look exactly like we may think.  So in my case I went to Damir’s studio after Ivan and I split.  I knew they often had workshops and classes on Saturdays and thought I’d just see if Damir was available.  It turned out he wasn’t, but, I ran into on of his students who is an acquaintance of mine and told her a tiny bit of what was going on.

Since he wasn’t there, I took it as a sign to take a breather.  I thought to myself that I should just let it go, focus on getting back in integrity with my eating plan and exercise and that I was consciously going to trust the process, the Universe, the unfolding of what is happening.  So I took no further action.

A few days later, I got a Facebook message from Damir.  His student had asked him if he had talked with me, and he was like, “What?”  So he reached out to me, which was awesome.

So long story short, Damir’s going to be my new instructor.  Yay!

I’m grateful, excited, and a bit nervous to begin and tomorrow morning is our first lesson.

He’s been so awesome to me ever since I met him but what’s even more awesome about him is that he really seems to have my best interests at heart.  He’s friends with Ivan, and from conversations I’ve had with Damir, he sees a lot of himself in Ivan.  He told me, “I love Ivan.  I love you,” and I think he really does.  He, of course, had a conversation with Ivan before agreeing to teach me, and then had me come in and have a conversation as well, after we’d already talked on the phone.  I think the most endearing thing of all about Damir is that he’s still holding a vision of Ivan and I dancing in the future.  He was like, “You think you are having a divorce right now, but maybe you are not.”  Basically, he came to agree with me that for now we need to take different directions, and that he is willing to work with me during this time, but his mind is not yet made up that this is the end of Ivan and me.  Whether it is, or isn’t, I have no energy on that outcome.  But Damir remembers how Ivan and I danced and connected at People’s Choice and knows how special it is.  He promised me that he will tell me what he thinks and if he thinks I should dance with someone else in the future he’ll tell me.

I know this is a pretty big change.  When I first told my parents they were a bit panicked, I think.  They’ve seen how much Ivan’s helped me.  But this is the path that feels right.  And all this week my energy has shifted, almost immediately after the split.  I’ve had the energy and drive to do all the things I need to do to take care of myself and move me closer to my goals.  I stand by my decision and trust that this is the next evolution.  I believe my inner knowingness is guiding me and I’m choosing to go with the flow and dive right in headfirst to the next thing.

It’s been an emotional week.  But I’m glad.  I’m glad I’m no longer stuck, grateful that things have progressed so quickly, and feeling supported as I step off into the unknown.  Here’s to the next great adventure!

And of one thing I’m certain – I’ll have more to blog about!

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16 thoughts on “When It’s Time To Say Goodbye

  1. Michele Keffen says:

    the biggest hugs to you and sometimes things move on. New phase of your dance career is looming and grasp it with both hands. We are right behind you. I am starting the next phase of my dance collection adn I hope to work with you on some practicewear. I have not forgotten 🙂

    Lots of love Michele xx

    • loveablestef says:

      Thanks so much Michele! I appreciate the support and I’m so glad to hear you are starting the next phase of your dance collection! Woo! I’d love to be involved with the practicewear.

  2. s2k says:

    I am so sorry you’re going through this. It sucks. It sounds as though you and Ivan handled it far, far better than many have – we’ve all heard those stories. Often you post blogs that mirror what’s happening in my own dance journey – and as a matter of fact, I start with a new instructor this week, after parting amicably with my own instructor of many years. I’m more apprehensive about this new instructor than I am about the old one leaving – expectations, goals, teaching style, working at an entirely new studio where I know virtually no one… the usual. 🙂 Good luck, and you’ll be great!

  3. Kim says:

    If what you are doing is not working, do something else. It’s one of the core ways to keep your life from stagnating. Good luck with your new instructor, and happy dancing!

  4. Good for you for realizing a change was needed, and then having the courage to make that change! It can be scary leaving your instructor. So proud of you! And I’m so glad you’re going to keep dancing. 🙂

  5. bgballroom says:

    We have been lucky in that each change of coach has happened at a natural place and we have always left without drama. I can only imagine how difficult this must have been for both of you. Sending big hugs from both of us.

    From a strictly selfish point of view, I hope the new partnership brings many more fun and exciting new posts for us to read😎

  6. I’m sorry, Stef. I admire your strength and decision to move on, even though it hurts. I love your advice to “choose and move.” I’m looking forward to reading about your next partnership. 🙂

  7. D_Wall says:

    Sounds like a difficult decision but the right one to make. Good luck with Damir and can’t wait to hear more stories. The village has been a little empty without you.

    • loveablestef says:

      Thanks D_Wall! I’m enjoying reading about you as you are preparing for the big event at the famous franchise. I’m confident you will have a better experience than last time – you’ve come such a long way!

  8. Lisa Walter says:

    Its so difficult, and scary to move one but sometimes a force of nature or growth makes it necessary. How fortunate that there is a pool of teachers to choose from.
    Now is a time to listen and learn in a new way and enjoy all those exciting feelings that learning dance brings to you.
    Six years ago I felt much the same way with my former teacher. It took me two years to make the move to my current teacher. It made all the difference in the world to my dance.
    Wishing you well and hope you enjoy the transitions….to a new teacher and to the new dancer that you will be.

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