How the Tango Saved My Life
When I say that the tango saved my life, you probably assume that I’m being metaphorical. But no, I mean it in a very literal way.
The tango conjures some very clear images for most people: a beautiful woman wrapped in a flowing dress, wearing stilettos and embraced in the arms of a debonair man. The room would be lightly dimmed and the shiny hardwood floor crowded with dancers. The sound of a bandoneon is present in the slow, sultry music.
The couple is holding each other so tightly that they have become one and their souls have created a new way to communicate, through the pure, passionate language of tango. The entire world is non-existent and only the present moment matters as they glide their feet in synchronicity along the dance floor. They make a connection to each other and to the music. There is a sense of hope erupting from their spirits.
Is that something that can be associated with tango? Yes, it is, and it happens to be my story—how the tango saved my life.
Let me tell you how it began. Tango wasn’t something I was searching for; instead I believe it was searching for me. I started out as a West Coast Swing dancer and at the time I loved the dance and it became a large part of my life. I had danced it for 10 years.
But dancing and all other things pleasurable halted for me in 2005. It was on the dreadful day that I found my former husband Steve dead in our basement from multiple gunshot wounds to his head. I immediately fell into a state of shock and didn’t think I would ever recover.
Dancing was far from my thoughts and I didn’t think I would find happiness or love ever again in my life. But I was wrong about all three; the tango gods had another plan. I believe they search for people like me; those in need of learning to live in the present moment.
How the Tango Saved My Life
After Steve’s death I didn’t want to go back to the places I danced and be questioned about the suicide, so I decided that I would never dance again. But then an acquaintance of mine, whom I call my tango angel, suggested that I try Argentine tango.
It was sadly ironic that she also lost her fiancé to suicide and was the one to find him dead by the same method. I trusted her because of our mutual experience, yet I dismissed her advice initially, until one night I was drawn to learn about tango and enrolled in classes.
This was after I had already started psychotherapy. It fit with the suggestion from my therapist to begin to try new things and create a new identity. I hesitantly began and had no idea that it would change the course of my life.
Three months after starting my tango classes I met Gerry. He began a few months before me. His father had died one month after Steve and that is when Gerry’s life began to change. He was also looking for a new identity.
Ironically, it was death that brought the two of us together. We both opted for tango to relieve our pain. The passion of the dance captivated both of us in the same way. Our relationship evolved over time slowly and rhythmically, first as dance partners, then as friends and later as lovers.
I have had the chance to create a new identity, to find happiness and create a story with a happy ending. Gerry and I married on 11-11-11 for very specific reasons. That is another story in itself for another blog post.
I have shared my story with you to encourage you. I am living proof that life can be good again after tragedy.
Sadly, this post needs an update because my husband Dr. Gerald Chodak suddenly died on 9/28/19. It’s another tragic loss for me. I am once again doing the grief work and creating a new identity. I believe my life has a purpose: It is to help others on their journey through grief. And I don’t know what my future holds, but maybe Tango will be a part of it. I know that Gerry is with me cheering me on! Let’s keep moving forward together.
Love and Light,