After a biweekly morning doctor’s appointment, and a fruitless search for some supplies I need for an upcoming exhibit, I took a nice walk to the bus stop. I forgot to put on my headphones, and just listened to the sounds around me, let the wind roughly play with my now growing hair (after having it short for some years I’m allowing it to get longer, sort of a big deal), and just let my mind be empty – walking for walking’s sake. I realized that I had not done this for myself in a very long time. It’s rare that I have the time to do it. When I am out of the house, I am going somewhere. When I am in the house, I am working. When I am at work, I am working. Even on a day off, it is difficult to do something without feeling that time is short, and I have some duty in front of me that must be accomplished soon.
This walk reminded me of when I was younger, my future husband and I were not yet married though we saw each other regularly, and I was living at school and then at home with my family. It was easy to go into the city (NYC) and walk about, not needing to be anywhere till I wanted to be, actually having some time to experience life with leisure, to do with my time as I pleased. What a rare thing that is for me now, after many years! So to experience this again today, just taking a long walk to the bus stop, knowing that I could, that I didn’t have to be home at any particular time soon – oh what a pleasant surprise, what a pleasant memory. I had forgotten what that was like, not to have any duties and responsibilities for a few hours, just to be a single person anonymously walking the street, listening, seeing, with a sense of peace and independence, my own time for me.
There are so many people who want to give advice, people you know and don’t know. You should do this, you should do that, most studies say, blah blah blah. More pressure. I grew up with enough “shoulds.” I tolerate a lot of “shoulds” to be able to shoulder my responsibilities as a wife, a mother, a worker, a humane member of society, even pressure I put on myself to create and create because I’m so aware, with my acquired, chronic, never to be cured illness that life is short. I cannot shoulder much more than this or I will break. But I do my best with what I do carry, even when I am so depleted that I wonder how I will be able to keep going forward.
It’s hard to explain this to people. Most people either don’t or won’t understand what on earth you are talking about. I don’t blame them, but I do expect respect from them as one human to another, because they don’t live in my body. I do what I have to do, and what’s left over is what I work with to nourish myself. The majority of my time these years is claimed. By what I’ve had given to me, and also by what I’ve accepted into my life. To reneg on that is not something that it’s in my nature to do – unless my hand is forced, I’m backed into a corner, and what’s in front of me is something that threatens who I am and what I believe in, whether in a mortal spiritual, emotional, or physical way. If I sense that, in lieu of violence I will vanish.
For a time during this walk too, I forgot the recurring experience, being a woman and being introverted, and made much worse since I got sick more than 5 years ago, of people making decisions for me without my knowledge or consent. Decisions that directly affect me. This is something I came head to head with this past summer, all in one horrific week. I realized, with extremely painful acuity, that once again, I had really become completely invisible. This happens to me from time to time in my life. Then I have to be a warrior without mercy, because by the time the realization comes, my signals, however frank, have been ignored, pushed aside, not taken seriously. Sort of the way that people who are going to suicide give clues for a long time before they carry through. No one really wants to know, no one wants to take you seriously, they just want to do what they want to do and they are really confident that you’ll be just fine. In other words, when it counts that you be heard, they just aren’t there. Is this human? I guess so. You will forgive, but you will never forget.
Each time this happens to me in my life I become even more inwardly turned. I seem to always find the situation where I need to give more than a reasonable amount of chances, but really, that little voice about cutting your losses is always there.
Maybe if I made a regular habit of clearing my head, like today, feeling a part of the world but independent of it too, I might get better at taking my own little voice more seriously, giving it respect, giving myself more respect – really.