Being Labeled Unwelcoming In Organizing Spaces

There’s something real heartbreaking of being labeled “unwelcoming” and “cold” in organizing spaces all because your trauma has made it difficult for you to be intimate/loving.

I sit through conferences, meetings and gatherings. Expected to be warm and loving towards everyone. But that’s really difficult sometimes. There’s no exception, it’s hard for me to be that way towards anyone.

Ice Breakers that involve touching and grabbing each other is also difficult. And time and time again I let others know that respecting each other’s space should be a space agreement. And each time, side eyes and rolling of the eyes follows. I bet they think I’m conceited. Why wouldn’t she want to hug others? Why wouldn’t she want to be touched by the people she organizes with?

 It’s also difficult as an organizer.

Gender roles and expectations dictate how women should express themselves in spaces. And we many times carry that with us. I thought we were supposed to be deconstructing that? And it isn’t just about not telling women to smile, it’s also about letting women not hug if they don’t want to. Why is it that men aren’t labeled unwelcoming for not hugging and kissing everyone? But women are. But I am.

Why, instead of teaching each other to be conscious of each other’s space, trauma and body language, we condemn those who are dealing with these issues? Or who just don’t want the closeness?

It’s especially hard when your body language is read as disgust towards others. People assume I think I am above others, when in reality, I often feel uncomfortable in my own skin.

And yes, at fundraisers I sometimes don’t want to dance with all of you. Stop taking advantage of the fact that I’m one of the “organizers at this event” “leaders of the organization” etc etc etc.

And yes, at meetings I sometimes just want to wave from afar and not hug all of you. And there are days that I rather hug.

And there’s something about our bodies touching that makes me uncomfortable sometimes. And I force myself to do it because I don’t want to come off as rude or turned off by this whole thing. And it shouldn’t be that way.

And I should be able to enjoy your company in the way that best fits me and I’m comfortable and okay with. I shouldn’t have to alter my defense mechanisms and instinctive behavior to appease you.