I hate being invisible.
The sort of invisible where you state your wishes or opinions and nobody hears and no response is forthcoming. Or maybe nobody listens because you aren’t deemed important enough to listen to in the first place. Or maybe what you say is counter to the opinions of the people you are talking to and they wouldn’t hear you even if you sat on their chest and yelled in their face. That sort of invisible.
“Please don’t walk up behind me and arbitrarily grab my breast, especially if I have a knife in my hand. That is SO not a turn on.”
“I’m thinking of getting a tattoo. It’s going to say, ‘Under Heaven all are equal.’ What do you think?”
“I really like the light gold stain.”
“I don’t like Florida. I never want to live there.”
“Please don’t tease me about that.”
Invisible. “Did you say something?”
Last summer, I was spouting my opinion on a topic to a friend, then I apologized. Twice! He told me never to apologize for talking to him. Not long after, while Skyping with my daughter, I found myself apologizing for being happy. I was on a road trip by myself, visiting friends and family around the country. I was meeting new people, seeing new things, tasting, touching, reaching for new experiences. I was SO thrilled to be doing this! Louise chastised me and told me to never apologize for being happy. “Why are you doing that, Mom?” Why, indeed! Some massive self-reflection was called for.
Years ago, I thought that I had to deny my needs and desires to keep the peace. “Blessed are the peacemakers” was the topic of the sermon at my wedding. So, whenever I felt slighted, or ignored, or played second fiddle to a job, or money, or a movie, or a news broadcast, I retreated into a shell where I would be safe and my heart wouldn’t hurt. I was half me and half my mother, who gave up her dreams to raise a family. (God love her; I hope she gets to paint in heaven.)
I learned long ago that I would never be the most important thing in my husband’s life. I learned that money and job and house would always be more important. If I wanted the marriage to survive (which I did because I had a small child and felt strongly that she should grow up in a two parent household), I would have to disappear and become the 20th century Donna Reed, because I realized the only thing I could change was me. His expectations seemed set in stone, so I tried to become what I wasn’t. I should love to cook and keep the house in fairly good shape, spread my legs when asked, be devoted and not express my opinions, because they rarely agree with my husband’s opinions. Only thing is, sometimes the thought of cooking bores me, I hate cleaning, sex is only good when both people are fully invested, and I have VERY strong opinions on certain topics.
To be fair, I should state that I am a passionate person. I can rage with the best of them. Perhaps it is because of my Irish and Italian heritage, or perhaps it is because I grew up with and learned from an explosive father. Who cares what the reasons are; I am stubborn and do not suffer fools gladly.
I also love with my whole heart. I give everything I have and everything I am to friends and family and students and even strangers. Buy a complete set of winter clothes for a homeless man in White Plains, making me short on my rent? Yup. Give up a sizeable chunk of my income to make sure my students have food in their bellies? Yup. Cheerfully greet and chat with an Alzheimer’s patient who “recognized” me, allowing her to feel good, if only for a moment? Yup. Use my voice to raise support for marriage equality, women’s reproductive rights, a clean food supply, veteran’s benefits, etc., although to do so rarely gets me invited to parties? Yup. Buy a few weeks worth of groceries for a family because I had and they didn’t? Yup. Lay flat on the floor with a student who is having a crappy day and just wants to talk about his or her life? Yup. I know no other way to live but fully. I’m a registered marrow donor. I will give my organs if possible when I die. Burn the rest and sprinkle me on a body of water so I will be part of the web of life even after I’m gone. I give all of me.
I’m a good person. I’m an interesting person. I’m a loving person. I live large and love large. I shouldn’t be invisible.
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