Stephanie (collacentaur) wrote,

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Seen and Unseen

I always look at the daily Writer's Block question. Often, they don't apply to me, or the answer is so simple or obvious that there's no point. Today's question, however, ties into one of the tangled knots in my self-esteem:

If you could be invisible for a day, where would you go and what would you do? Do you think you might be upset by what you discovered?

I am invisible, and not just for a day. At least, sometimes I feel like I am. Some days I wonder if I make any impact. Some days I wonder if I'm touching the world at all. Some days I wonder what would happen if I really did disappear, and how long it would take before anyone noticed.

Of course my rational brain knows better. I know I touch others' lives. I know people care about me, and would notice. Most pragmatically, if nothing else, my office would notice by 9:15 of the first work day I missed, and start making phone calls. But it's not really about the rational side. The emotional side can't be consoled with cool logic, and even reassurances feel like empty platitudes, because there's always room for doubt.

This is why I live large and loud. People may not like what I have to say, but at least they can't overlook me. This is why I sometimes exaggerate, or get melodramatic, and make stories out of everyday life. It's a factor behind putting myself into your personal space. You can't fail to notice me when I've got my legs draped across your lap. When I don't get comments here, I watch my statistics. Usually I can't tell WHO is reading, but at least I know someone notices.

Really, I'm a huge attention slut. I seldom want to be the true center of attention, but I want to be damn sure I get a share of it. Yes, I have the personality traits of a cat. I'm all right with this.

As for being upset about what I discover when invisible: oh, yes, so very much. I had a series of bad experiences along those lines in junior high and high school. I suppose most people do, of course – teenagers are very cruel – but for me, the rejections never really fade. Off the top of my head, I can list four separate incidents over the course of about three years, when I thought I was having a good time with people I got along with, only to discover that they were annoyed with me and wanted me gone. (Twice through their actions, sure, but twice by involuntary eavesdropping on my part. I can be so very invisible that people forget that I am RIGHT THERE and can hear them bitching about me.) I'm not sure I'm remembering all of the incidents, either.

It makes it very hard for me to want to try to make new friends. Depending on my mood and confidence levels generally, sometimes I'm still waiting for the other shoe to drop with people I've known for ten years or more. And if that's not ridiculous, I don't know what is. Y'all are still around, you've seen me at my worst, it's pretty damn clear you're not going anywhere. And yet some days I still doubt.

But new people, they're scary. I don't know what will make them like me. I don't know what will make them mock me. I don't know what could make them turn against me and try to hurt me (and yes, that's happened to me as well). I fear rejection here on friggin' LiveJournal, for God's sake, where part of the idea is that it's OK to watch people who don't want to be your friend, just because they're interesting people. I still hesitate before clicking that button. And what could happen here? I lurk on mailing lists and newsgroups for years to learn the local culture before even considering posting, and generally decide that I haven't got anything worthy to say anyway.

As for in person, where people can literally point and laugh, or slam doors in my face, that is so very terrifying indeed. It's much easier to just be invisible and watch what all the pretty people do, than to attempt to interact and face all the possibilities of rejection. I'm trying it anyway, going to places of "people like me" and trying to find those who not just ARE like me, but who might actually LIKE me. It's scary, and I feel vulnerable, but so far it's been going all right. Maybe. I can see myself in my old bad patterns, trying too hard and babbling too much and missing cues and overstaying my welcome and generally acting like an overexcited puppy, which is never a good metaphor for a cat lover. And so I can't help but wait for the other shoe to drop, for the door to slam in my face or for the cut direct, or for hearing myself as the horror story on one of those Geek Social Failure panels. That's the kind of behavior that makes itself a self-fulfilling prophecy, I know.

It's hard not to turn tail and run. I can always be invisible, disappear into the shadows or the silence. Hiding is safe. Staying visible means staying vulnerable, putting myself in the path of rejection or whatever else might come. And because what I want from others is honesty, openness and trust, I have to give those things in greater measure than I hope to receive. So I make myself more visible, more vulnerable. Here are my faults and flaws. Here are my fears and doubts. Here is the best way to hurt me. No, beneath this rib, angle it like so and then twist after you push. Do you want me to twist it for you?

Don't worry, I'll be sure to mop up my own blood before I expire. I wouldn't want to be a bother.

Fortunately, I'm fairly confident that dagger is pure metaphor. Even verbal and emotional daggers are unlikely. The most likely rejection I might have to face would be silence, silence that turns me invisible again even when I'm trying to be seen. That can be survived, even if it hurts. So I go forward, come what may.

Here I am. See me, notice me. Scratch behind my ears or pull my tail, that's up to you, but here I am.

ETA: I'm guessing from the comments I received so far that this isn't quite coming across to others the same way I'm saying it. Not sure how to clarify. Here's an attempt:

Yes, I have fears and doubts. Yes, I've let them hold me back for a long time. But I'm not any more. I'm standing up and fighting my fears and taking risks. I'm trying to let others in. It's not going to be perfect and it's not going to be without setbacks. That's life. I don't expect it to be easy. I'm proud of myself for taking chances and trying to change.

At the beginning of the post, I say that I'm invisible. At the end of the post, the mood label is "visible". Also, I chose to make this a public post.

This is about taking the past into account but not being hindered by it. This is me feeling powerful, capable, strong.
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