STAND YOUR GROUND: It’s All in Your Mind, Body and Intuition
By Dawn M. Sanders
I got to the Women’s Holiday Centre in Horton-in-Ribblesdale, North Yorkshire about 4 yesterday and just needed a damn good break from the week’s stresses and court hearing.
The big old house was warm and welcoming, with its familiar rugs, cushions and organic woodsy interior.
I was eventually shown my room after a cuppa and meeting a few of the lasses staying.
We all had a nice civilized sit down to dinner in the evening and I was just too exhausted to try breaking into conversation in the end.
This morning I got up and someone was already in the kitchen to offer me a cup of tea, so I sat down as they all filtered in.
Someone put David Bowie classics on their i-pad and the buzz, enthusiasm and anticipation of the day was in the air, with northern banter and hefty chuckle.
I walked with someone the ten minutes or so to the village hall where Annie our facilitator met about 8 of us.
We started out with some really basic strength-building exercises, like standing tall and narrow – feet close together and a bit rigid, to more relaxed and grounded.
As she took us through the exercises and role play, I was surprisingly, at least in my core strength, stronger than I usually feel.
Annie was great at explaining what she was doing, so I didn’t feel like an awkward blind ideot, not knowing what was happening.
I was able to share – in between and when the opportunity presented itself, the ongoing battle I have every time I go out anywhere, in how people react to me as a woman with a visual impairment. The grabbing hands and stupid questions of presumptive ignorance.
I never like to thrust it forward, but my personal reasons for doing the workshop felt really raw.
I felt more in charge of my spatial awareness in the space we had in the village hall, than I often do, but then again, I had a good chance to walk the floor – trailing the sides of the room for mental mapping, which always gives me an advantage – slightly leveling the playing field.
The others were younger and older and the commonality seemed to be, how men feel more physically ‘entitled’ – especially in public spaces.
People shared experiences and I guess my favorite was the following someone in pursuit, then switching the roles – feeling like a predator or target.
I also liked what was for me, reiterating my physical boundaries, which are heightened, while others were the same or more tolerant.
For me, intuition was at the heart of it all – my inner psyche or defense mechanism. As I’ve gotten older, I feel like I’m more aware of my own body language and what it conveys, yet being receptive (where possible) learning from my son when I’m close to him, to gage communication and reactions.
Of course it’s also in the voice – what you say and how you say it…
I wanted to do the workshop, to address my own “issues” in dealing with the outside world and how I’m perceived – although the first thing anyone notices is my visual impairment, so feeling/looking more confident is more crucial in compensating to people’s reactions.
The best sentiments were: the way you feel is reflected in your behavior – your behavior determining people’s reactions and so the circle/chain; or, it’s not my responsibility to educate people…
People’s reactions to visual impairment can be astounding, gut-wrenchingly infuriating or surprisingly alright.
So when Annie said my body language was quite strong and confident – I felt pleasantly surprised and empowered.