Something nothing short of extraordinary happened this past Saturday. I have learned the true value of feeling appreciated, accepted, supported and encouraged to think, feel, say, do, be exactly what I want, wholly, unapologetically, confidently, femininely, genuinely, beautifully. And it felt like a flower bud blooming in spring.
Continuing my determined quest of doing things all alone, I surprised myself celebrating the arrival of spring and my successful shopping spree by taking a seat on the terrace of a pub located in the very centre of Brussels, steps away from the Brussels Stock Exchange, historical building and hotspot of Brussels’ social life, and ordering not one, but two drinks.
One might expect that in a city as colourful and diverse as Brussels, a woman having a drink by herself on a Saturday afternoon would be the one of the most natural things to see, yet judging by the surprised, intrigued, offended and downright judgemental looks I attracted during my one-hour stay at the terrace, I may have rushed to conclusions.
Just as I was about to feel uncomfortable and to blame myself for being too visible, for sticking out like a sore thumb, for being socially inappropriate, a charming lady in her 50s, sipping on a glass of beer at a table next to mine smiled candidly and asked me if I felt uncomfortable with the looks passers-by were throwing me. Suddenly, I found an ally, someone who related to and understood my desire to just sit outside and enjoy the lovely weather, in my own company. And I was no longer alone and exposed. I left back home tipsy and joyful to have unlocked one new experience, to have conquered one more fear.
Yet the greater surprise happened a few hours later, when my amazing friend, beautiful soul, brilliant dancer, fantastic father of two and the very definition of what a true man should be, took me out dancing. I never understood the hype for Latino parties, mainly because I considered them a breeding place for horny men who use dancing as a cheap excuse to grind behind a woman’s back.
“Close your eyes and listen to my body”, my friend told me, as he pulled me tight in his arms and gave me a crash-course in kizomba. You will understand my surprise when, feeling safe in my friend’s arms, being constantly reassured, kindly yet firmly guided on the dance-floor, patiently taught and enthusiastically cheered, I dared to release the tension and drop all defense mechanisms that my body had put up against being touched by a dance partner, and I allowed the music, and my friend, to take lead.
It was the most fun, liberating, enjoyable experience I can remember ever having on the dance-floor. In the time span of 2 hours, I was skillfully led through merengue, New York and Cuban salsa, bachata moderna and Dominicana, kizomba and reggaeton. And although I am far from being a good dancer, or even a good follow, I am however a woman who has, for the very first time, listened to what her body was saying.
And it said “I want to feel respected, appreciated, understood; I want to be touched in a kind, gentle, soft, considerate manner; I want to be led in a grounded, firm, manly, responsible way; I want to be free to be myself”.
Saturday presented me with two distinct situations in which I became more in tune with myself, and in which I learned that feeling uncomfortable, unsafe, exposed and ashamed of doing things I like, says more about the people who go above and beyond to make me feel that way, than it does about my worth, my value and my fundamental right to freely express my own being.
I want to extend my infinite gratitude to the lovely lady at the pub, and to my darling friend, for understanding me, for supporting me in my journey of self-becoming, and for empowering me to live according to my own rules, principles and standards. And I truly hope, dear friend, that you may surround yourself with people who make your soul bloom.