We walk beside you. Work with you. Go to the same class you attend. Watch the same shows. Cheer for the same teams. Drive the same roads. But you don’t see us. Don’t notice us. We are the invisible.
The abused. Trying to blend in. To look and act “normal.” To deflect attention. To be noticed is to be scrutinized and judged. Rejected. Mocked. Because no matter how hard we try to be normal, we are different. We have seen, experienced and felt things that we weren’t designed to see or experience. We aren’t equipped to handle the gut-ripping emotions; the overwhelming and intense pain of the soul. Fractured, we become the walking wounded. One of those pathetic, disturbing creatures who should surely be avoided at all costs.
We try to fit in. We laugh when you laugh, hoping you won’t notice that it took us a split second longer to react. The computer in our brain is always analyzing as it seeks to produce the correct response. To find the proper words. The correct facial expression for the occasion.
If we are good actors, you will never notice us beyond a passing glance. We won’t stand out. We will remain invisible.
The old. We’ve nothing to flaunt. We can’t shake our head of shiny, thick hair in the sun to demand attention because we no longer have a lush mane. Our shorts are longer so as to hide skin that has lost elasticity. Our tops have sleeves to camouflage our flaccid arms. Parts of us resemble a Sharpei. Mid-drift tops are shunned and low necklines have long ago been abandoned. We may still wear fashionable clothing and have a spring in our step. But your eye will not be drawn to firm buns or toned calves because we don’t possess them. In fact, it is likely your eye won’t be drawn to us at all.
We move through the grocery store unnoticed. At best, we do our shopping without leaving a trace of ourselves behind. At our worst, we are sometimes in the way. A pest. Quickly assessed and then disregarded.
The un-pretty. We don’t fit the proper mold. Our features are not perfectly symmetrical. Our eyes may be too close together or too far apart. They aren’t blue and our hair isn’t full and blonde. Our legs are too short. Our feet too big. Our smiles crooked or too generous. Our ankles too fat. Our thighs rub together and our stomach protrudes. We turn heads…in the other direction. No one smiles when they see us coming. If they notice us at all, they look away, avert their eyes, find someone more pleasing to watch until we have passed by. Someone who is impressive. Who is worthy of adulation.
The abused who are also older and who don’t meet…and likely never have met…our societal standards for pretty – well, it’s a triple whammy.
Silent. Invisible. Here and gone without leaving a ripple behind. We don’t even imprint on your retina.
I’m sure there are others who feel this way. Refugees. The poor. Who can’t afford a cool car or trendy clothing. The obese. The unintelligent. Those who never had an opportunity to go to college. There is an army of marginalized members of society lurking in the peripheral vision of the masses. Those who failed the test because of factors that were and that remain far beyond their control.
The invisible sea of individuals who don’t measure up. Who are odd. Who have no hope of acceptance because of how they look, what has been done to them and a pathetic lack of resources.
I am adrift in this sea.
I am one of the abused. Badly abused. Rejected. I am older. Old by the standards of youth. I have never been one of the beautiful people.
Not only has the outside of me failed to measure up, no one has been able to find beauty in my soul. Or in my heart. No one has been able to accept me for who I am. My warts are somehow far, far worse than those of most others. My flaws too horrible. So, I go through my day without acceptance. Without touch. Mostly without notice. Without anyone to care or to assure me the difficulties and hurts I’ve encountered will somehow work out. That I can and will get through them. In reality, they probably won’t work out and I’ll only get through them if I can find the strength within me to keep walking in spite of the agony.
You don’t see me, but that slight breeze you felt on your cheek may have been the air I stirred as I walked past you.
We are the invisible. Imperfect creatures. Broken. Not as successful as is expected or required. Certainly, not as glamorous or physically pleasing. Our deficiencies are often hard to mask. And so, people block us from their mind and gush over the more perfect among us instead. Worshiping youth. And “hotness.”
It’s actually not too terrible…not be recognized as being a person or of having value. I’m certainly left alone. And though no one speaks to me beyond what is necessary, though they cut me off in line and seem surprised to see me standing behind them if I have the courage to speak up, for the most part, life’s transactions can be conducted in the shadows with a certain amount of efficiency. And without too much hassle.
There was a time when I wanted someone to see me because I prayed there was someone special in the world who would love and accept me despite my flaws and brokenness. I have learned. Reality has replaced fantasy. And reality is empty of most everything, though it is filled to overflowing with isolation.
Now, I am content if people don’t bump into me and knock me down. If they don’t cut me off. If they lower their eyes as I walk by. I am content when no one is hurting me. No, not content. But grateful. Grateful no further damage has been done. That I have returned safely home. Have made it through the day without additional wounds and scars.
There is something to be said for being left alone. There are worse things than being invisible. I am trying to find the good in it. Or to at least ignore the bad.
I’m trying to embrace invisibility. To hold it close, even as I have always longed to be held.