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How Getting Back to Dancing Saved Me from Post Divorce Depression

Getting over a divorce can be traumatizing. From facing financial challenges to dealing with post-traumatic disorder, it is a ride through hell. Let me share my journey and how I found my true calling amidst the uncertainties in life that followed.

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French Impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir once said,

The pain passes, but the beauty remains.”

These words forever shall remain engraved in my mind. As I opened the windows of my home dance studio, light and sound from the outside streamed through. I took a fresh breath of air inside, trying to keep myself calm and focused in the present. The warped mirror beside me displayed a reflection of a confident person, brimming with light. The last few years feel like a long nightmare now. One, that I did not think I will ever overcome.

It is a devastating situation in anyone’s life when the foundations of marriage crumble down. Nobody ever imagines this happening to them, even though the decisions are our own. The entire process, especially what follows afterwards, is the biggest challenge I had to face. As if living out of the habit of staying married was not hard enough, the responsibilities of parenthood was a constant reminder of the storm that just had struck my life.  Today I am not only handling my emotional and financial needs better, but I have also gone past the stage of having regrets. So, let me share the inspiring story of how dancing helped me overcome the challenges a divorce and the post-traumatic disorder that followed.

Life After the Storm

After the divorce, it was an unexpected emotional roller coaster; to get out of old habits and practice new ones, and to move my life forward. The biggest challenge was to focus entirely on myself and more importantly, find out who I truly am. As I kept searching for answers in self-help books and medical journals, in an attempt to find more balance and stability within myself, I came across this article about tackling depression with dance and movement therapy by Dr. Judith J Wurtman, Ph.D. It just triggered something inside.

Finding the Calling

I have always been into ballet, since my parents got me enrolled as a kid, for lessons here in Brampton, Ontario. Perhaps it was because of my hidden insecurities that I always tried to find a place I could belong to, and I found that in ballet. As I was barely battling the demons inside, in August 2018, my sister dragged me to a show by Greta Hodgkinson of the National Ballet of Canada. It was a beautiful performance at the Festival des arts de Saint Sauveur in Quebec. All of a sudden, I remembered the words of Mark Banschick, M.D; “what makes you truly happy?” The answer was simple, to be able to dance again.

But finding a balance between work, single parenthood and passion was not easy. And investing in a class was not an option either. So, I decided to hone my dancing skills at home. But in order to get it right, a proper environment was important, and that called for some remodelling.

Setting Up My Home Studio

Returning to ballet after all these years was not going to be easy, I knew that. But first I needed the right equipment. And it’s not just the tights and the pointe shoes I am talking about. Anyone who ever attended a ballet class will know that it requires a proper flooring that provides some amount of traction for slip control, especially during the triple pirouettes. After all, you do not want to injure yourself while performing a grand jete.

The thing you need to consider most during the flooring installation is controlling the impact of noise and the airborne noise. For the performance surface, there is a lot of options in flooring, like hardwood, engineered hardwood, laminate or vinyl. But since soundproofing and budget were a challenge, I settled for vinyl flooring.

The next task was getting the sub-floor and flooring underlayment installed for proper soundproofing. For a seamless dance floor look, I chose to paint them in a specific colour.

Making the Most of My Willpower

After the renovation was done, here I was, standing in my very own portable home studio equipped with mirrors and a soundless environment, the whole nine yards. But taking the first step was the biggest hurdle. As I slowly began the stretching exercises, I kept repeating the words of Renoir in my head, “The pain passes, but the beauty remains.” I closed my eyes and surrendered to the feeling and when I opened them, there I was, maintaining a perfect arabesque. The unbelievable feeling that gave me the strength to carry my journey gave my life a new dimension.

As rightly expressed by Martha Graham, “You are unique, and if that is not fulfilled, then something has been lost”.

Life will always have its ups and downs, just like a ballet routine. But you must learn to be yourself, get up and hold your form when the pain increases. That is grace and that is how you can find your true calling as I did.

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