Prevailing

A friend who follows astrology told me that March 20 (yesterday) begins a time of great change for me, and although no astrological prediction pertaining to my life has ever come true, this one almost did.

After yesterday’s dance class contretemps (hey! I spelled contretemps right without needing spellchecker to correct it for me, though I did need spellchecker to check the spelling of spellcheck), I’d had enough. I simply did not want to play in that sandbox anymore (and sometimes, it does feel as if we are in preschool rather than postschool), so I called my dance teacher and told her I was taking time off.

A long silence, then, “How much time are you taking off?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “Ten days. Ten years. I just can’t do it any more.”

She said I was too good a dancer, and she refused to accept my resignation. I’m sure part of her consideration was the performance we will be doing at the beginning of June, but also as a good friend and a lifelong dancer, she has some inkling of what dancing means to me, though it’s hard to explain.

It’s not for exercise — I get plenty of exercise on my own, and would do even more if I weren’t going to class. It’s not for camaraderie, because I’m reverting back to my hermitic ways, and being around people exhausts me. It’s not for fun or enjoyment, though the stress-free classes give me both. It’s more of a thing of energy, of nourishment for my spirit, and too often lately a black miasma hangs over the class that others sometime respond to, but apparently only I can feel.

Still she does know of a lot of the byplay between me and the other characters, and she told me not to let anyone take dance away from me.

I agreed to stay. For a while. So the big change — not taking dance classes anymore — did not happen. But I also firmed  my decision to step up my training saunters with the backpack to allow for a different sort of change.

In the middle of all this, I realized something — no matter what happens, I will prevail.

Did you notice above where I called my classmates “characters’? I meant characters in a book, which they all are — characters in Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare. It seems to me that a lot of what happened in Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare is happening in a sort of parallel reality in class, with the Deb character playing out her solitary (and totally inexplicable) feud against Pat and pulling those who don’t know the truth in to her mind-set of “Oh, poor me. Look what Pat’s doing to me.”

It’s entirely possible I am the villain — writers don’t always recognize the truth of their characters. But I do know one thing — no matter what happened (happens) to any of the other characters in the story, at the end, Pat did prevail.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Ain’t Life Grand

I often use this blog as a way to organize my thoughts and try to figure out how to deal with problems, but after such posts, I sometimes go through a period of embarrassment for laying my not-so-admirable self bare.

To my amazement, my online community, both the readers of this blog and my Facebook friends, have never exacerbated the embarrassment by pointing out how childish I am. Instead, they’ve been supportive, probably because we have all been in situations with bewilderingly self-centered folks who treat us badly for no reason we can fathom.

In a recent blog post, The Nature of Dilemma, I said I felt as if I’d conjured up my nemesis because she was the personification of the character Deb in Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare.

One fellow writer commented: Oh dear. I shall now be warily looking for characters from my stories too. And I’m wondering if you now have a very intriguing plotline growing from this.

I hadn’t looked at the problem from that angle, but what a great story that would be — a writer creates a character who comes alive. Although the character torments her, the writer can’t do away with her literarily because the character has already met her fate in the book, so the writer has to . . .

Now if I can only figure out what comes next in the story, maybe I’d know what to do in real life!

I suppose I could out-nice her, as one friend suggested, by being sweet and standing my ground in a nice, kind, way, not letting her ‘get in my space’ or steal my joy of dancing. Or I could be rude and tell her to stop being “up herself,” as the Aussies say. As satisfying as those suggestions might be, holding my tongue as long as possible is more my speed. (But I do have to consider that my speed isn’t very effective, though to be honest, I doubt anything will get through to her.)

Another friend sent me this quote: When a toxic person can no longer control you, they will try to control how others see you. The misinformation will feel unfair, but stay above it, trusting that other people will eventually see the truth, just like you did.

I think others are beginning to see the truth (although, unfortunately, we all also see the truth of her and her unhappy life, and so feel sorry for her, which complicates the issue), but still I need to stay above the situation or at least find a way to ignore that which I cannot control.

Life! Ain’t it grand.

Actually, irony aside, life is grand — pitfalls, toxicity, tragedy, and all — especially when you have supportive friends.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.