Sitting Alone

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I have found, somewhat to my chagrin, that my frequent need to sit often results in me sitting alone. Now, I am an introvert, and the people that know me well, know that. So there is that ever small hope that maybe they think I want to sit alone when I sit in THAT CHAIR OVER THERE. But I suspect it is actually the fact that when I, or perhaps you, need to sit down in a group setting, we instantly become invisible. No longer at eye level, dropped out of view, we simply disappear.

I have never liked standing up when I talk to people. I actually get a little disoriented doing so. Maybe the disorientation itself has roots in my chronic pain. But, I am ambulatory, and I can stand for short periods of time (much of the time) before the pain appears. Note, I do say much of the time, some days there will be no standing without pain! I credit my physical therapist, a pelvic floor specialist, with helping me stand for increasingly longer periods of time without pain. But, even now with these longer time periods, I still don’t have the mojo to stand like someone without chronic pain. Sooner or later, I gotta sit down.

Some of the time, I will be in a place, like my home, or a friend’s home where I can simply say, can we go in there so I can sit? Sometimes that works out just fine. But a lot of the time it doesn’t.

Take church for example, at a point in the service, it is time to meet and greet. On my good days I can stand and flow around and say hi. But on my bad days I simply need to sit. Sometimes people do come to say hi to my husband and I, but sometimes they seem to just look right over us. And this is a great church with very caring people. I really think they just don’t see us, that their attention is caught by someone standing. So I sit alone (with my husband).

Having guests over or going to a guests house for a holiday is another time when, sooner or later, I feel like I might as well just be part of the furniture. People will often stand in one room and talk, often, as a woman, the kitchen. If I can no longer stand, and need to sit, it gets hard to continue to be part of the conversation. Of course, it depends on the layout of the room, but often THE CHAIR IS OVER THERE. And so I sit alone.

Now the worst environment of all is the LARGE GROUP EVENT. Where there are a sizeable number of people, some of whom you are closer to or know better than others. It might be a party, a wedding, a group picnic, a work sponsored event. A situation where people mill around, rotating small groups for conversation and participation in certain activities. On a social level, I actually have a particular distaste for this type of event because it is an introvert nightmare. But, if the event revolves around something fun, and/or there are good friends there, I often find myself having fun in spite of myself. UNTIL I NEED TO SIT DOWN. Now these events do typically have chairs, but the chairs are not necessarily conducive to the group chat. Or the group activities. They are often on the outskirts of the room, or the outdoor area. And for some reason I have yet to understand, people seem to prefer standing and talking to sitting and talking. So, sooner or later, when that need to sit emerges, I have often found myself in the situation of needing to go off where those chairs are, and sit. Sometimes I can ask others to join me, if I know them well, but sometimes it simply won’t work. It will interrupt the activity, or I don’t know folks well enough to broach the topic. But the back hurts, the knees hurt, the feet hurts and it gets so bad I want to cry. I NEED THAT CHAIR OVER THERE. So I sit alone.

I work with students in wheelchairs so I am sensitive to the fact that I am at a different height from them, and that, when I can, I sit so I can be at their eye level. I consider that to be respectful, and it is what I so wish others would do for me. I really don’t get why no one notices I am missing. Even more, why, when people scan the room, they really don’t seem to see me sitting IN THE CHAIR OVER THERE. It’s not like they make eye contact and then simply don’t come over. They don’t even see me at all. So I sit alone.

Please, won’t you come sit next to me?

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5 responses to “Sitting Alone

  1. Cheryl, I really think that sometimes a chronic illness makes us overthink things. I find that when I am having a bad day with lupus, if I make a conscious effort to ignore my discomfort and reach out, I can forget about myself for awhile. And that it is a good thing. Most people at LCCC don’t know what we deal with. Tell people as you get to know them that you need to sit and they will rise to the occasion. It is up to you to fill them in. You will be surprised how accommodating they are, and you will feel less isolated.

  2. I totally understand! I recently went to a wonderful wedding and found that I was ‘out of the loop’ because I was stationary. I loved this post, I couldnt have said it better!

  3. This prologue was written sixty-six Years ago”

    “I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids — and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination — indeed, everything and anything except me.”

    The book concludes:
    ” ‘Ah,’ I can hear you say, ‘so it was all a build-up to bore us with his buggy jiving. He only wanted us to listen to him rave!’
    But only partially true: Being invisible and without substance, a disembodied voice, as it were, what else could I do? What else but try to tell you what was really happening when your eyes were looking through? And it is this which frightens me:

    Who knows but that, on the lower frequencies, I speak for you?”

    IThe above was written by Ralph Ellison, an African-American confronted with a racist segregated society. The “Invisible Man” went on to win the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction, was ranked 19th on Modern Library’s list of the 100 best 20th century English-language novels, and was listed by Time magazine among 100 Best English-language Novels. But it speaks today as it did then, for ALL WHO ARE INVISIBLE.”

    Love Dad

  4. I can relate to what you’re saying, it applies to every day of my life.

    I am either in my bed or in my wheelchair. I am sick of relying on people coming to me. I can feel like a burden to my friends. For once I would like to make the effort and go to them, turn up at their house by surprise or even just change room at a party without so much fuss.

    Brilliantly worded post

  5. It is an inspiration to know that you still get out and socialize. I have taken to staying in the house and only going out when necessary. I do not feel that you are invisible, your words are powerful.

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