I was invited by my dear sister to go see what we thought would be a fabulous documentary movie. As the time to leave drew nearer I noticed that I was getting anxious. I slowly got an inkling of how uncomfortable I was about going. A public space. Crowded. Needing liberty. Seats that I don’t fit into. And a memory of how the last movie I saw was almost unbearable.
There are a lot of seats and chairs that don’t work for me anymore. Especially those with armrests. When I sit down the extra girth of my legs pushes them apart. Squeezing my thighs outwards against the armrest support. Which then digs into my legs. Or more accurately my legs are forced into the sides of the chair. Pushing. Hurting. Bruising. Nobody’s fault for the design for more normally sized people. My discomfort nevertheless.
But then there is also my social discomfort. Crowded places with narrow access. Occupying space. Feeling like I take up too much room. Like I’m in everyone’s way. Too big. Embarrassing. Not wanting anyone to make a fuss or to get special treatment for being obese. Not wanting to be the centre of attention. Not for that reason. Not for being the fat guy…
However, that feeling IS more than just familiar. It predates my obesity. Making sure I’m never blocking anybody’s way. In the supermarket isles. On the roads. In a passage. On the stairs. Never in the way. As though my right to be there is less than anybody else’s right to be there. Not allowed to own or occupy space. But there is one clear exception – the stage!
When I’m invited onto a stage to speak it is mine to own. All of it. I use it all. Work it all. Own it all. I feel free. I feel authentic. I connect with every person I can. Eye contact. Heart contact. Connection. Seeing needs. Energised. Engaged. Alert. Responsive. Stimulating. Challenging. In my element. Delivering all of me. Everything I have. Bringing life. Sharing love. Liberty. And surprisingly intimate!
My Alexander Technique teacher Barry encourages me to occupy and own my space. While walking. While standing. While sitting. While driving. Everywhere. As I do I feel a shift. A looseness. Freedom. Walking big and sloppy. Strutting my stuff. It feels wonderful. Comfortable. Liberating.
Back to yesterday’s movie. Previously I wouldn’t have been able to pinpoint the anxiety. Limited awareness. This was different. I gently told my sister exactly what I was feeling. She generously and lovingly released me. Her response was wonderful. It all feels like progress.
I’m on this journey of liberty. I wonder what else it will take to bring more of the liberty and comfort of speaking on a stage into other facets of my life? The awareness of how much I’m holding on is growing. That in itself is freeing. In a weird way it helps me feel that I can own my space. And doing so might even free others too…