Learning to spot the exit signs


We bought a house!

So far we are on our 70 billionth pin of bathroom tiles we like, are through the demolition stage of our renovation with no expensive surprises and we’re still on speaking terms.

I think it helps that we aren’t living in the house while the renovations are happening (understatement of the year. Oh wait, it’s 2016 aka The Year That Set Itself On Fire. So biggest understatement of the last 3 minutes).

I went through an intense phase of hating our rented place, reconciled myself to the fact we would be there longer than I wanted and stopped resisting it. But since we started the house hunt and found our own pile of bricks, my intense loathing for our gaff has returned.

I hate that it’s open plan. I hate that it’s under-heated. I hate the tiny kitchen. I hate that the insides of the kitchen cupboards are black. I hate that the bath is comically shallow. I hate the weird bulkhead in our bedroom.

The loathing is, obviously, a clear and present sign that an exit is called for. Our rented house unconsciously (and in other cases very, very consciously) triggers feelings and sensations that totally repel me.

This got me thinking about much more subtle exit signs.

I’ve started a 30-day trial for a boot camp style gym close my office. It’s pretty slick…they have branded merch and a smoothie bar and a iPad check in. The classes are busy, the trainers are energetic, the workouts are good’n’challenging.

I will not be signing up to continue going beyond the trial period. All the subtle exit signs are there.

The space, the people who work there and the people who train there all combine to create an embodied feeling of NO for me.

Learning to listen to the ever so quiet whispers my body gives me of “hhhmmmm, this calls for an exit” is definitely still a work in progress for me, but I’m getting better at it.

As ever, the most important tool for hearing my NO is my awareness. I bring my awareness to how I’m feeling and I ask if it matches up to how I want to feel.

Delight is a big one for me (#delighteveryday on Insta…hashtag it yo!).

When I’m at this gym, and I ask myself the question “does it feel delightful to be here?”, I am met with a clear and resounding no. There’s no friendly banter, the trainers enforce arbitrary rules and are kind of mean to people, everyone seems ever so slightly scared.

I got big, shouty NO’s from my body when I experienced a lack of respect for my autonomy. Feeling some pain in my right wrist (reminder – I broke it), I declined to demonstrate a move to the rest of class exactly as asked and got taken to task for it.

Fuck you, dude.

It’s my body and I live here. If I say I’m not doing the movement pattern because I’m experiencing pain (not discomfort…I realise working out is supposed to make you uncomfortable. There’s a reason you want to go eat pancakes after you do it) then I’m not doing it and that’s the end of it.

I don’t need, want, require, demand, expect, or anticipate your approval or permission to do as I see fit with my body, especially when it’s telling me it’s in pain.

Listening to the whisper that an exit is called for is one thing. Trusting them is another.

For me a lot of monster chit-chat starts up in my brain and sounds a lot like this: “But don’t make a fuss…don’t make a scene…don’t be such a diva…he’s a trainer, he knows better than you…but it’s not really a big deal…”

Sound familiar? To me it sounds like a lot of social and cultural conditioning to be a nice woman and not a nasty one.