And I’m right over here–but why can’t you see me?
It’s so ironic–growing up, and even now, if you had asked me what super power I would want, the pure part of me would want something incredible but that practical, tremble always at the ready, side of me would say “invisibility.” Hands down. People can’t hurt you when you’re invisible, in theory. There comes a certain freedom with invisibility. As long as it doesn’t veer into isolation that is. But, as I have found out, so many things that are dreams in life are simply stale realities. The very thing that haunts me is that I always feel so incredibly invisible to the world, but not in a hidden way. Invisibility lite. Or invisibility without the necessary translucent quality when there is little to no recognizable material that builds you into the human who stands and moves before others.
I’ve always been a spiritual wallflower. I played sports growing up. I had plenty of friends in theory. But somewhere along the line, right after realizing the necessary securities that come with invisibility, I got my wish and it sank into my bones and eroded all of my being that other people would find valuable. Life sucked the marrow out of my existence, breath by breath, breaths I held out of fear, breaths held while waiting for the inevitable dish taking a chunk out of the dry wall only to meet its shattered and inevitable end against worn, unwashed tile.
Paint fades. Carpet fades and bleaches in sunlight. And people fade, especially children. And that decay and the process of erosion, it is terminal. Once you first realize how embarrassingly small you are in the face of all the things you’d dare hoped when people said “what do you want to be when you grow up” and those small, warm air pockets–bubbles of love and security poised on pins and waiting to be popped as all bubbles are meant to be even before they form–begin to dissipate, you hop frantically from pocket to pocket, trying to stuff yourself into them in hopes you won’t be hurried back out into the dank, damp, half-darkness like the pounding isolation you feel as one-by-one your friends go home to what you assume are safe homes where dinner is served and as all of the others in the game find their chair in each musical round.
So you get out early. You become a wallflower. And that wall is both your shame and your post and your prison in so many ways. But fear freezes you and, if you’re good for nothing else, you learn quickly that humans have such a capacity to hurt and be hurt but so little to connect and empathize, to see. So when they do see, they only see that which is special. And you learn pretty quickly you’re not the main event, the halftime moment, the cherished memory, even the refreshing second–you’re the vessel, the gritty popcorn cup laying to flatted by the dull march of exiting feet under the stands after somebody consumed the inside of you and dropped you absentmindedly while searching for their keys.
When you’re a kid, the person who consumes and drops you is the same person who conceived you. And then either you tell the universe that is what is to be done with you, the natural order of things, or you project it, you ask for it, or the world just has ranked you low in the classes of usefulness and your insignificance is the gravity that chokes the life out of you for all long as your body tries to force it through your lungs.
I am my own iron lung and my iron lung is my captor in a prison people have long forgotten about, much less visit. Nobody wants to visit somebody the world locked away so long ago when there are so many diversions and wonders on a revolving carousel surrounding every individual whoever forgot to forget about you. So you drift away and you realize that some of us weren’t made to matter and just like hope can be so damaging, the more you try to believe otherwise, the more you plague yourself.