“For humor’s sake, I’ve created a model for personal space, though the need for it has dwindled as I’ve gotten older, but it goes something like this…
Hold both arms out parallel; now rotate. This is an ideal model for long term- personal space. Now tuck your hands under your arm; Elbow length- this is the short-term model. Short term is slightly tolerated, but arm’s length is preferable.
I jokingly draw an imaginary line for those who get in my face. There were times in my life being nose- to -nose with someone sent me into a panic.
Attending Church was sometimes difficult:
There were many times I wanted to sit silently on a pew, but usually an enthusiastic soul would take hold of a microphone and urge us to Praise Jesus, get up and shake someone’s hand. Sometimes I conformed; other times I didn’t want anyone chiseling at my shell, so I sat there with a smile and by all appearances “on,” but really I was just waiting for the moment to pass. This also works well when I am unable to hear in mixed conversation.- A smile and nod usually works fine when I am teetering around between “I can’t hear you” and “What you have to say is important to me.”
I recently got called out on that one:
Someone sitting with me asked what was so funny, since I so enthusiastically chuckled at someone else’s remark.
“What’d they say?”
“Uh…I really don’t know…”
So I had to confess my doings. More laughter. Well, my intentions are good.
I never was one for being “scrunched” in between others on carpeted pews in the dead silence. I never could decide which was worse: the flesh pressing in on me, or the sound of my own respirations. Every muscle in my body would tense and I would have to consciously release them, imagining a wave of calm flowing from my shoulders and exiting out of my toes: A slow, concentrated exhale. If anything, the exercise took my mind off my circumstance but it also took me out of the moment. It’s hard to be “on” when you are busy trying to plug in.