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It was my fault. I dropped the ball, and dropped the projection of blame simultaneously. It bounced right back up in my face. The world seemed to be watching, but had no opinion about me and where my blame was heading. Straight to my head. They watched the ball though, just didn’t care much about who was controlling it. 

Should I try to score? And how should I do it? Throw the ball to another player, perhaps? Or seek the glory of everyone looking at me and thinking...? Well, if it went in, the situation would insist on them thinking I was a success. No room for perceptions of failure for someone who had just succeeded. 

It would be done. No question. We would be one point ahead. We. 

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I bounced it with no intervention from the instructor. There was me, bouncing. The woman to the right was insisting we play as a team and then, we would make it. The other team’s coach was giving them the idea that to make the goal, they should leave smaller, slower players behind and gave them moral leeway to do so. My team “did it together.” So everybody cared and was happy when we scored, except the opposition, their supporters, and their mums.

 
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I didn’t expect them to completely flatten me in the process, to make it to the hoop, and say “we did it together,” while walking over my right arm.

“It’s for the good of the team,” stated my ex, who thought he propped everyone up like a pillar. More like he was propped up by an imaginary pedestal starring in my own mind, so very often. He was looking at my once best friend, while talking to me. Giving her the eye, reciprocated with a grin. If he was the one flat on the floor, would she be smiling like that? Love wasn’t honourable or fair. 

Then my friend turned to the guy next to her. There was a peck on the lips. My ex turned to me. I cried to his angry face, to ease his ego, which was shouting in my face. He had defeated me on the outside, but inside, I stood up and walked away. Inside, I could always stand up and walk away.

 

While my insides walked away, this resilient self of mine looked behind at me on the floor, seeing me crying to the face of a man who had suffered a dent to his pride.


“That’s quite a display!” she told me. “You get through things by succumbing you this nonsense.”
“So I should be like you?” I said.
“Free? Honest?” said my insides, from above.
“But invisible,” I added solemnly. 
“You see me, don’t you,” she retorted. 
“Don’t worry, if people need me they can see me. Sometimes people see what they want to see,” she added importantly. 
“So they need what they want?” I came back with, bitterly.

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That short, slow player, talked to my “insides” as she stood there, and she listened with empathy. I would have listened. If my insides hadn’t got up and walked off. But I was on the floor and I looked like the victim here, with smudged mascara and pink cheeks. I could lip read something about “unfair” and “stupid.”

 

“Who was stupid?” I thought. The coach knows more than us. Why else would he be in the position of authority he was in, telling people what to do?

 

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As the invisible woman of strength, my “insides” were bold. She scribbled new tactics on the clipboard, altering them to a method where all go for the ball at once. Leaving Mr. Short and Slow to grab hold of another ball and score. It’d never been done that way, sure.... But there was another ball on the sidelines. Who makes the rules absolute, after all? 

Mr. Short and Slow scored with a slam, free from everyone stopping him. He turned to expect round if applause but saw them disinterested and going for the other goal with the original ball. 

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“It just wasn’t where the others were heading,” someone said.Miss Old Best Friend didn’t know where to look. Everyone was crowding and attending to my ex, but the guy next to her was fondling the keys to his cool car. My insides sighed. However cool the car was, with no goals, people would be driving around in circles and everyone would get knocked over in the process. Maybe one of the mums would like to do this driving around.

 

Anna-Maria Amato (@amatoheart) curates an art gallery in a health setting, working with artists primarily in South London, but also further afield. She has worked with major museums in London in her socially-engaged practise and has presented webinars and workshops to health trusts and the Royal College of Psychiatry. She has a strong interest in making education accessible and has been volunteering as a community builder for a social enterprise, 8BillionMinds, which is building a global live learning platform. You can see more of her work at http://annamariaamato.weebly.com!

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