One of the things I’ve been working on with my therapist is learning to slow down, so my response isn’t laminated to my reactions. We can’t control our reactions; we can control how we respond to those reactions.
On Monday I took the bus downtown to meet up with some friends. I sat toward the rear, facing forward, and wore earbuds (which are bright blue). A few stops later, a man got on the bus. He came to the back and sat across from me, on a bench that faced the middle.
I could almost predict what would happen next. I turned toward him, and he started talking to me.
Him: “Hi. Didn’t I see you on the bus yesterday?”
I pause the podcast I’m listening to and take the earbud out.
Me: “No. No you didn’t.”
Him: “So I couldn’t have met you before?”
Me: “No. No you couldn’t.”
Him: “What’s your name?”
At this point in the conversation, my stomach starts to clench. Because I know this is coming. And every time a man asks me, I tell him. And then I hate myself for it. But I am learning to pay attention to what I want. And what I want is definitely NOT to give him my name.
So I say, “I don’t want to tell you that.”
I’ve disrupted the social script. He doesn’t know how to respond. He falls silent.
I turn away from him and face the front again. I turn my podcast back on. A stop later, he moves up a seat. A young woman sits next to him.
I like being friendly. I like talking to people. On the bus, even! But for the short duration of a bus ride, no one needs to know my name. I couldn’t wait to tell my friends my story.
Very cool, Jill. Just taking that extra moment to ask yourself what you want can really change the story. Good for you!
Thanks Rebecca! Yes, interesting way to think about that. I was having a discussion on my FB post about disrupting the social script. 😀
Ditto first Rebecca! So many of us are trapped in the cycle of groomed reactions, but how wonderful when we stop to feel that space between provocation and response, and choose growth.
Yes, that’s it precisely! Thank you for your comment :D.
WOW! That took guts. The innate response is to answer and you managed to overcome it! Last time I did that there was a loud/verbally violent response. I’m so inspired by by your words and, honestly weird, but him for respecting your choice. He didn’t have to stop the conversation, but he took a step in the right direction.
It’s true. He could have responded in some other way I couldn’t predict. I think owning my response may have helped, but I really have no idea (i.e. I told him how I felt, rather than attacking him and yelling at him blah blah blah).
I love this! I have SUCH a hard time disrupting the social script in the moment, but it’s something I’m working on, too. I find it’s super helpful to have concrete OTHER scripts readily to hand, so thanks for sharing how you did it!
Yay! You’re welcome. And yes, me too :D.