Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Perseveration Much?

The movie was better attended than we thought it would be. That surprised us. What didn't surprise us was that the one accessible seat, with the symbol all over it, was taken. There were lots of other seats available, but that one was gone.

I asked the woman sitting there if she realized that the seat was an accessible seat. She said that she did not and immediately got up and grabbed her stuff. She looked back at the seat, once she stepped out, and said, "I honestly didn't notice the wheelchair symbol." She then took a middle seat in the next row forward. We thanked her for her immediate willingness to just move a little forward.

It had been a simple and pleasant interchange.

Or so we both thought.

As we sat through the trailers and munched our popcorn, we noted that the woman seemed to be a little bit upset. I wasn't sure why. It had been a simple and pleasant interchange. She had chatted a little bit with her new seat mates, she had an empty seat on either side of her so she wasn't wedged in next to anyone. It all seemed to be so easy and so, I'll say it again, pleasant.

The movie started.

About ten minutes in, she stood up and dashed out of the theatre.

I watched the movie while running through the request I made to make use of the accessible seat space. I thought of the little chatter that happened with us, both our thank yous, the chatter she'd had with her new seatmates. It had all seemed so easy and so friendly.

This morning, I got up to write about this and realized while doing so ...

What if this isn't about me at all?

What if this has nothing to do with our interaction?

What if the two things, my asking, her leaving, have nothing to do with each other?

Why am I not trusting that my memory and Joe's confirmation that it had all been pleasant and friendly?

Is there a danger of making connections that may not be there?

Is disability sometimes not really part of the story at all?

And the most important question: Why am I still thinking of this four days later?


Anonymous said...

Catholics call it an examination of conscience: going through your life to see if there are places where you need to improve your behavior to more closely align it with your principles (specifically checking if you have sinned).

Odd encounters have that effect - they stick with us.

Yours was around the subject of your disability - and you are a kind person who tries to get better.

I'd still be thinking about it several days later, too - because I'm a writer, and we obsess about things.

She probably either didn't like the movie - or remembered she had to be somewhere. You'll never know. I don't think I've ever left a theater 10 min. in, so now you have me thinking about a story.


Anonymous said...

I think you're having an epiphany. If disability is not always part of the story (and this I believe is true) then everything needs to be looked at differently. That realization shakes everything up a bit. Sometimes it is about disability but not always.

Tamara said...

And maybe it was the something else that distracted her so that she didn't notice the wheelchair symbol. We just never know what someone else is going through, do we?

Anonymous said...

When I read your story I immediately thought, what if she got a text message? Maybe someone was asking for her help or needed something? It probably really had nothing to do with you. :)

Jan Goldfield said...

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Glee said...

Yes well I was thinking as I read it "Oh for goodness sakes Dave now you are getting paranoid".

Settle down mate :) I used to have to say to myself "put your blinkers on girl" and I would and carry on. And when I found myself thinking paranoid stuff I would say "no" and think of something different. You can't not think that stuff cos it just comes into your head. The trick is to see it quickly and throw it out the door and think on. And when it comes back you do it again. And the more you do that, like an attention seeking naughty child, it gives up and calms down and maybe even goes off. It ain't easy but you gotta do it.

Otherwise you will end up with PTSD.

April said...

But a cigar isn't always just a cigar is it? That's what makes this kind of situation difficult, you don't know. I didn't dismiss this as paranoia because while it might not have been about you, it might have been. People aren't always good about dealing with upset or embarrassment and maybe she needed to just get out of there.

Ron Arnold said...

Relationships are interesting things. They can be fleeting yet create some interesting ripples - both inward and outward. We all come into each relationship with a ton of context and it seems to me, that context is the true defining factor in the relationship. (Even if it's as tenuous as listening to a song - which creates a relationship of sorts with the artist, or nodding at someone in the same grocery line.) In the end - even if her action was spurred by you - her choice was much more about her.

As to why you're still thinking about it? I get the sense that relationships are very important to you . . . .

Anonymous said...

I hope that she wasn't suddenly ill and that she was safe going home.

Anonymous said...

It is not all about you.

We all need to realize that. Let others own their own stuff.

You work so hard to take the disability out of the equation when it comes to opportunities. Don't let it get in your way!!

Defying Gravity said...

Even if it was 'about' you (in the sense that your request led to her leaving), it doesn't mean it's about you (in the sense that you should have behaved differently). I do have a couple of friends who would most likely be upset enough by that kind of interaction to leave, because of their mental health challenges or social anxiety.They would be upset with themselves, not the other person. But part of their recovery has been learning to negotiate those every day situations, bbecause they can't be avoided.

Penelope said...

I would never assume that someone who you'd approached over 10 minutes prior had then suddenly left because of you. If she'd been upset, she'd have left immediately. I can think of many, many reasons she might have had to leave suddenly.

I think you've gotten so used to having people tell you that you're the problem that you now assume you are the problem before looking for other explanations. I think said in a comment on another post that I thought some of your reactions sounded like PTSD and this is another one (I know I typed the comment out, but now I can't remember if I actually posted it). There may be times now even when you think someone is telling you that you're the problem, but they aren't. The level of verbal abuse you've taken since childhood is more than enough to have caused your reactions. Now they're habit. The much harder part is learning how to break that habit.

Anonymous said...

Goodness me, you're human. You care about people, you worry about the things we all worry about.

I keep re-discovering "not about me": abuse and bullying and top-down good intentions all pretend that it is. Make it so when it really isn't.

Sometimes it's about them. Ahhh, relief when one can safely know that.

Perhaps that's a lifelong process of re-realisation for everyone aware enough to notice their own mental processes. Just more immediate when one's safety has been involved.

SarahG said...

Obviously I don't know what was going through that woman's mind... but in her place, I might have left because of that interaction. Not because being politely asked to move, but because I would find it intensely embarrassing to *have* to be asked. I have acute social phobia and panic disorder, and making a social 'mistake' like that sends me straight into a panic attack, no matter how nice people are about it.

If that was the reason, I suspect she is still feeling terrible for putting that nice man in the wheelchair in the position of having to ask her to move - a terrifying prospect for a social phobic - and embarrassed about the initial faux pas. I would, at least - and I'd be hoping that that nice man's moviegoing experience hadn't been ruined by my foolish mistake.