No Bench

The 8-year-old girl in the playground sat on the bench between lessons and zoned out. She watched, she dreamt, she observed. She heard the games, she heard the shouting, she refused to join in. She wasn’t rude, she wasn’t unhappy. She wanted to sit still and watch. Yesterday she had joined in. Tomorrow she would play a skipping game. It was just fine to have sitting time. She would do this often. When sitting in groups at tables in class she would look longingly over at the empty book corner and imagine herself alone there. She wrote a piece for her teacher about sitting quietly alone and her teacher read it to the class. It was okay to be her, to be like that.

But sometime after that it became not okay to be like that. It was the last time she felt proud to be her. It became necessary to be always in the game, never sitting it out. Life was never that way again.

And yet I am still that girl.

Sometimes I can’t deal with some moments. Some moments are hugely loaded with too much expectation, too much thinking, too based around the speed of others’ lives and thoughts. Sometimes a moment in time can send me into a spin and my heart races painfully. I panic, I long to call on help from somewhere somehow but there’s nothing and no one. And no bench. The breeze banging the door scares me. A voice outside terrifies me. All at once I know I can’t have things at my pace with my idea of peace and I am panicked. It’s so hard to explain to anyone how after a while I just want to mend in a place where time doesn’t matter. I feel especially aware of the different human constructs – supposedly designed to help society tick over and how they grate against my own natural rhythms. I find myself making the most of a snippet of time perhaps just a minute where nothing is going on and getting lost in it; reverting back to my time on the bench and my world of quiet observation. But slipping into my zone isn’t good when it’s not backed up by other things; if it’s not made safe.

I don’t know who’s outside making noises or why or how long they’ll be there. I don’t know who is at the door. I don’t know if I am safe to walk around the house from room to room. I don’t know if I am safe to let it be known I am in. I want my time out. I need it.

Like a migraine or a virus or a broken limb or maybe a Sunday morning after a hectic week, this is a call for less action, for time out, for healing. It’s not a constant but it’s necessary and it’s necessary that it is understood.

I need so much not to be *misunderstood* though, that I hide and run and ignore because the basic need for peace and space and simple no-expectation-just-for-now-please seems too difficult to explain without misunderstanding. This is about no one and no thing but a woman trying to fit herself into a world that can often feel like a constantly spinning roundabout and wanting the time to cope with the dizziness it brings.

It is simple: I am not a machine. But I have fired on all cylinders like a machine; I have to work myself like a machine in order to be part of this damn playground. It’s a big game with a grand set of rules and I play it well, I’ve got it all sussed, but I can’t keep doing that nonstop.

So I have moments. When I’m not playing anymore. But I don’t feel proud. I don’t have anyone telling me it’s beautiful and reading it to the class and making me feel okay.

5 thoughts on “No Bench

  1. Thank you. I so understand. You are voicing what I have felt many times. Not answering a door, pretending not to be home, letting the phone go to voicemail and calling back when I am prepared to talk. Thank you for sharing your voice. Be proud. I am proud of you.

    Liked by 1 person

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