When I am walking down a hallway at work and two people approach from the other direction walking side-by-side, I move over as far as I can to the right. They do nothing, continuing to fill the hallway as they pass by me. While walking through the mall, a family of 4 approaches and it is clear we are going to crash into each other if we remain on our current trajectory. I move. They don’t budge, even though they are spread out and could easily condense to allow me to pass without inconvenience. Approaching the door to the grocery store, it becomes apparent that I am on a collision course with another person also approaching from the parking lot. I adjust my speed to allow them to go first. They don’t even give me a second glance. Walking on the sidewalk in my neighborhood, a couple approaches from the other direction. They do not attempt to walk single file as they go past me. I have to move off of the sidewalk to let them pass. Driving home in my neighborhood, there are many cars parked on the street in front of various houses. The resulting obstacle course requires a bit of weaving and swerving. When cars are coming toward me, I tuck back behind a parked car to wait for the oncoming car to pass when the obstacle is on my side of the road. They don’t. They swing around, causing me to have to brake abruptly and take action to avoid an accident. I used to think people were just really rude. I mean, I’ve even had people run into me and almost knock me down instead of moving over a few inches so they won’t crash into me…and I was trying to get out of their way! As I have watched this phenomenon play out over and over again pretty much everywhere I go without much exception, I have begun to notice something else that I find to be extremely interesting. Here’s what I’ve seen. Take the same two people walking down the hallway…I happened to glance back and noticed they moved over for another employee they encountered coming toward them. Likewise, the family in the mall, shortly after passing by me, I was amazed to see that they scrunched together to let another person pass by them without inconvenience. After seeing this happen a few times, I began to watch more carefully and I was amazed to notice that, for reasons I simply can’t explain or understand, I am not given the dignity of space in which to exist while others are. I have had to conform, to adapt, to make myself small and unobtrusive. In short, I am not respected while others are. I am not treated like a person. Like an equal. I am continually treated like someone who has to be subservient. It happens all the time. It’s as if I don’t exist. I try to be polite. I try to take up the tiniest space possible and breath very little air. I try to treat others with respect. But I am not afforded the same courtesy. Why? What is is about me that evokes this kind of treatment from others on a basic and subconscious level? Is it because of some vibe I transmit? Because I don’t value myself? Don’t fully see myself as being a person? Is it because of my body language? The way I drive? The way I walk? Why am I always the one who moves out of the way? Why am I always the one who is less than? Who has to concede my space? The reality is, quite frankly, I don’t believe I am a person. Not a “real” person. Not a person like everyone else. That’s what childhood abuse does to you. I learned the lesson well. I have to do more, be more, give more, perform better just to be allowed to exist. And if I don’t perform…I have no worth. No value. I am nothing. Evidently it shows. So I’m going to try an experiment. I’m not going to move over so willingly any more. I’m going to politely, but firmly, stand my ground. Just to see what happens. Will it help me believe I have just as much right to exist as everyone else? Doubtful. But who knows. I think it’s worth exploring, at the very least. So if you see me coming toward you, I hope you’ll understand when I don’t jump to get out of your way. I’ll shift a little. But you’re going to have to shift a little too. I’m going to tell myself each time I hold my ground that I have a right to a little space in the universe…as much right as anyone else. Hopefully it will help me to see myself a bit differently with time. Hopefully it will allow me to realize I’m maybe more of a person than I currently understand, believe or comprehend. So be gentle. Don’t expect me to jump out of the way. I don’t need much, but I’m keeping my space. I’m keeping a tiny patch of ground to stand on. I’m not going to scurry to move over and get out of everyone’s way. I’m going to try to act like I believe I’m a person. Hoping it will help me to believe it for real. I guess the worst thing that can happen is I’m going to get bumped into by a lot of people. I think I can live with that.