She has lived alone for a few years. Most nights she gets to choose the side of her bed she will lay. She slips in (and out) gently and is still a calm “sleeper”, rarely does she mess up her bed covers. This reduces the time she needs to make her bed in the morning.
Since she was little, she learned to share her bed with her siblings – initially as a necessity and later, because it brought them comfort and companionship. And sometimes her mother would come to share her bed when the parents had argued. Even now when she goes “home”, the sisters will still gather on her childhood bed sharing stories and even falling asleep.
She learned to sleep within the space she was supposed to so her sisters would have space on her bed. She learned to sleep without disturbing the bed covers so as not to interrupt other’s sleep. She felt she was within a rectangle, with walls invisible to others but her, that she did not cross over. Her siblings, and her mother, appreciated her considered nature in making space for them, and often gracious with her attention and care.
She was taught to sleep as a “nice girl” should – gentle, demure, considered. She did not interfere with other’s space. Her sisters were also taught to be so – each keeping to their own space.
She now sometimes share the bed at her own home. She loves their togetherness. As they fall into a routine, she does miss her choice of which side of the bed she sleeps on. She expresses her confusion – between her dislike of his intrusion into her bed space, and her pleasure of the connection and warmth of his limbs draped over her.
This is the catalyst to our conversation which leads to this realisation.
From a “nice girl”, she now lives her life as a “good woman” should – contained within the space allocated to her despite her creativity, intelligence, and ambition – rarely venturing beyond culturally defined space, rarely taking up more space than what she was assigned, always apologetic for the occasional lapse into being who she truly is.
We spent hours exploring her reluctance to take up space and to be seen, the potential price of losing her “nice girl”or “good woman” reputation, the likely disapproval of being a “rebel”, the power of being her whole self.
Has she considered sleeping at the centre of her own bed, sans the invisible rectangle, her limbs stretch across wherever and in however manner?
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