Being Physically Appropriate

Photo by Benjamin Griffiths via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons.
Photo by Benjamin Griffiths via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons.

There is so much to remember about my body when I’m in the presence of others.

  • I have to remember to control my facial expressions.
  • I have to remember not to position my extremely flexible fingers and hands weirdly, otherwise it freaks people out.
  • I have to remember not to move my hands when they’re in my pockets, otherwise it apparently looks like I’m doing something perverted. (I used to do this self-soothing thing where I’d stick my hands in my pockets and stroke my skin through the fabric, thinking no one could tell, but they could.)
  • I have to remember to at least appear to be mentally present at all times instead of obviously looking spaced out.
  • I have to remember to eat slowly and carefully, because my hypermobile fingers are clumsy with cutlery and I easily make a mess if I don’t. (When I’m in the U.K. and am expected to hold my fork in my left hand, I’m screwed; 50% of the food on the fork doesn’t get anywhere near my mouth.)
  • I have to remember to keep my mouth closed when I’m breathing, lest anyone laugh at me for being a “mouth breather.”
  • I have to remember not to stand too far away from people when I’m talking to them or lean too far away from people who are sitting next to me, even though I require an enormous amount of personal space to feel comfortable. (In group shots from my wedding, my mother-in-law is cuddled up closer to my husband than I am.)
  • I have to remember not to clench my fists when I walk, which I inexplicably have the tendency to do.
  • I have to remember to sit in a way that doesn’t look weird for my age, even though there is pretty much only one comfortable sitting position for me and that is cross-legged.

Most of the time, I appear normal, but it takes a lot of effort. I make the effort because I hate attracting negative attention and when I was younger I got so sick of people making negative or mocking comments when I just acted the way I’m normally inclined to act. I learned what not to do just from all the things people said to me. But it is so tiring having to constantly be aware of these things, plus socialize and converse on top of it all, and all while often being overwhelmed and overstimulated. It is so much easier being alone, or being just with my husband who doesn’t notice or care about any of these things.

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