Ladyfingers: Dancing Through Life

The intricate dance of human relationships comes in many forms. The tango involves complex footwork while in a close embrace, requiring mutual vulnerability and trust. The tango can also be suffocating; within the confines of the connection there is a risk of being unable to maintain individuality and freedom.

Ballet emphasizes grace and elegance, especially with communication and particularly when under pressure. However, that emphasis on elegance and grace can sometimes reflect a priority of outward gestures and appearances over genuine emotional connections.

The playfulness and cooperation of swing dancing proves the ability to adapt to the other’s rhythm to create a great dynamic. Conversely, that same ol’ swing can signify a codependency dynamic where destructive behaviors are enabled and healthy growth is hindered.

I’m still trying to figure out how to relate twerking to interpersonal relationships but from experience it can either be a really fun time or you look like a fucking idiot.

Suffice it to say, the dance floor of our life is ever changing. Sometimes you find yourself drenched in sweat and bliss after cutting a rug for six hours straight, other times you need to sit out on some songs. Then, of course, there are those moments you want to just get the fuck out of the club as soon as possible, feeling perfectly content with the idea of melting into your couch and watching reruns of “Law & Order: SVU” until you die. This can become a vicious cycle, or after a few loops and bouts of dizziness, you find the exit and learn how to avoid that ferocious wreath from that moment forward. In layman’s terms: you do some growing.

During said flourishing, we often find ourselves confronted with challenges that test the ol’ emotional resilience. As someone who has traversed the labyrinth of interpersonal conflicts, I have encountered a multitude of approaches: the good ones, the terrible ones, the oh-so-powerful ones, the approaches that look good on paper but are an entirely different ball game when it comes to action. All the above are powerful tools in their own ways, yet they can lead down vastly different paths.

One practice that I’ve recently learned of is “gray rocking” — a term coined from the behavior of blending into the background like a, you guessed it, gray rock. It involves intentionally becoming uninterested or emotionally unresponsive to diffuse tense situations. It’s a tactic often employed when dealing with toxic or manipulative individuals, and while it seems like the cousin to disassociation, it also becomes a shield when navigating through a minefield of another’s bullshit. The minefield that once had the potential to leave you drained and mentally depleted can now possibly be crossed with little scathing because you’ve allowed the toxicity to flow around you like a rock in a river.

On the other end of the spectrum lies forgiveness, a profoundly transformative act that requires courage, vulnerability and willingness to let go of resentment. Traditionally perceived as the “higher road,” despite the immense toll it can take on someone who is already so deeply wounded. We’ve been taught our entire lives to offer forgiveness, even when you are not asked for it because it makes you “the better person.” But maybe, just maybe, a transformative power can still be felt when you decide that enough is enough, and they can go fuck themselves. Who’s to say that your inner peace cannot be nurtured still because you reclaim your agency by severing the ties? Perhaps the act of disarming oneself is not a conventional, yet temporary, refuge but a legitimate path towards healing. There is no ill-intention or resentment behind it, just a solid boundary made of beautiful gray stones.

Forgiveness is a terrain fraught with obstacles, especially when the wounds run deep. Gray-rocking is a new terrain that can be traveled poorly, but also can be the most liberating hike of your life. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Ultimately, whether we choose to embrace the practice of gray rocking or embark on the journey of forgiveness, it’s not about which path we choose. Rather the courage to walk it with integrity and grace. Life’s dance floor is always open, and while sometimes slippery, you gotta put on those fucking boogie shoes and shake what your mama gave ya. Even if no one is watching (but if they are, the good ones are worth the twerk, I promise).

Sabrina Ambra is a co-host of Real Radio 104.1’s “News Junkie” program and stand-up comedian.

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