Present, Past and a Couple of Chairs

On holidays, I try to turn off the outrage button that rests somewhere inside my chest. I just want to let some things slide and just deal with the situation and get on with it. I don’t want to always have to report it, write letters about it, or even post about it. A place says it’s accessible and then we find that the attempts at accessibility are laughable so we figure out a way around it … do it … let go of it. At one place Joe was muttering about accessibility and I asked him if we could just deal and enjoy. I left my warrior clothes at home.

But that’s a wearing stance to take I discover. And it broke in me last night. I went down to get a table for a group. I was taken to a table that had two more chairs than we needed. I was in place and then those two chairs were being dragged away, one by one, I asked her not to do that. I said the chairs were fine where they were. I was told I needed space. I said that I had enough space. Then it was a series of ‘really, I don’t mind’ and ‘I’m just wanting to make you comfortable’ and ‘it’s okay it’s my job’ in my responses to ‘NO, PLEASE DON’T’ and ‘REALLY, DON’T’. She never heard me and when she was done, I sat at a table with this huge gap on either side of me. The rest of the chairs bunched across from me.

Like there was no way in the world that someone would want to sit next to me.

When Joe came down I was almost in tears. I explained and Joe’s face hardened and then he began rearranging the chairs so that each chair had a bit of space around it and people could, if they chose, sit next to me.

When they arrived, they did. I was not an island alone across the table.

I tried really, really, hard just to let it go for a week. But I discovered that some of my outrage is based on just plain hurt. Why is my voice not important enough to hear? Why do others assume they know what I need better than I do myself? How can I be so obviously present and so obviously immaterial at the same time?

Why can’t people imagine that someone would want to sit next to me?

Insecure children become insecure adults a lot of the time. I remember as a child when no one wanted to sit next to me. Past hurts can become present hurts. Too much goes on inside each of us for anyone else to understand.

That is, unless, they listen.

But to be heard, one needs a voice that is valued.

When the hostess, who had hauled the chairs away, came by later when we were all eating and laughing, she looked at our table, like something was wrong.

Because she couldn’t see what was right.

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