Wildly dancing the jitter bug with my poodle skirt flying in circles, like a matador waving his red cape at a deranged bull, my partner, Paul, pushed and pulled me in every direction to the beat of the music. On that intensely lit stage in 1972, during my college production of the musical “Mame,” this highly choreographed routine was perfectly designed from the flip of my blonde, curly ponytail to the syncopated tap of my toes.
“Don’t drop me!” I shouted at my cohort as he threw my rag doll body first on his right hip then the left.
“Jackie, we’ve practiced this a million times. I haven’t yet have I?”
Next came the move where he slid my entire body threw his legs and twirled his own around to catch me on the other side. For a brief second we were separated, but jumping off the floor I ran straight for him, encircling my arms around his neck and wrapping my legs in a vice-like grip about his waist.
“Please, don’t let go!”
Exasperated over what he interpreted as an unwarranted fear, Paul hissed in my ear, “Jackie, don’t worry I won’t drop you. Now let go of my neck and fall backwards.”
Spinning wildly in circles, my head nearly touching the wooden floor, I began to relax. Maybe I could trust this boy, who was physically no bigger than I, to keep me from harm, or even worse, ridicule for being out of step with the others. Gathering myself upright again, I released my legs and with perfect momentum he threw my body upwards – feet first straight to the ceiling.
Next, came the acrobatic finale where our bodies were back to back, arms intertwined as he flipped me over his head so we’d be face to face once more, only the pin point precision landing we practiced over and over went a little askew. Instead of landing on my designated spot, I went flying.
“Oh my God, I’m so sorry,” I cried to the gentleman in the front row of the audience as I flopped into his lap.
Mortified, I peeled my flattened rear end off this squashed man’s stomach, wiped the sweat from his brow (not sure if it was his or mine) and made my way back up the side steps of the stage to my partner who continued dancing as if I never left.
Throwing myself back into the fray with the rest of the chorus, I carried on with a smile and a song, but my eyes screamed a different message. “I’m going to kill you!!
It has been said that trust can be both important and dangerous. It is important because with it we learn to form our relationships. We learn to bond with another human being and depend on them – for love, advice and help. Trust also involves risk. The person we’ve put our faith in, because of selfish reasons, may not pull through with their promise and this is ultimately dangerous. Betrayal can hurt as much as, maybe even more, than a physical injury. When we’re betrayed our self esteem and self respect are in jeopardy for disintegrating and once that happens it is difficult to glue those pieces back together again.
I’ve always been an overly trusting person and, on several occasions, that has gotten me into trouble over the years. I like to believe people are who they say they are. That they will do what they say they will and that they’ll be loyal. This Pollyanna attitude has left me filling many a Kleenex tissue. I’ve never been able to accept the fact that not everyone has the ability to carry out their word.
Trust is also an important element of letting go. Time and time again we are faced with changes in our lives that we don’t want to make. There’s the letting go of a home because you can no longer afford the lifestyle. There’s the letting go of a relationship because it is no longer working. And then there’s the releasing of our children either by way of school, graduation to an adult life or to their own marriages.
Liberating my children from the overly protective wings of their mother was one of the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Talk about the need for Kleenex! I was buying them by the case. I didn’t want to give up the life we had all together, the fun, the laughter, the tears – even the arguments. More importantly, I was sure they wouldn’t be able to survive without me (or maybe it was more the other way around).
Now that I’ve experienced releasing my babies to the world, only to find they are just fine, I’ve learned that I can trust other acts of letting go as well. One day this house, that has been filled with love and memories, will be too big for me and I may have to sell it. One day my body will crumble to the point where I’ll have to give up teaching dance and in the future I’ll have to stop highlighting my fluffy curls and let them evolve to their natural color – mousy gray. Many are sad to envision (me without my tutu – unthinkable), but I trust and pray that it will all be okay in the end and that something else wonderful will take their place.
Even though I still get hurt from time to time, I believe trust is a good thing. It means you’re optimistic for the future. I believe that like patience, trust is a virtue too. It is the moral disposition that we honor another person and their trustworthiness. By placing trust in an individual, or the future, the trustee feels honored and will more than likely live up to that expectation.
Don’t stop believing that people are inherently good. Try not to worry about will happen when something changes or is gone. God has a way of ultimately making it workout. And if you are liberating your child to their own life just remember – it means a new life for you too!
Trust is not just meant for the benefit of others. You need to be able to trust in yourselves as well. It will keep you deeply connected to the world – open and excited for what will be.
I have to admit, I still find myself saying “don’t drop me” to any partner who dares to take me out to the dance floor, but I’ve learned that the only thing damaged if I fall is my momentary pride. With a strong hand up, I’m back on the floor and loving the moment once again.