I was standing beside my mother in line at the grocery store. I looked up at the full skirt of her dress.
I bet I could spin in that! Such are the thoughts of a 4 or 5 year old girl. I gazed up at the pretty brunette lady who was my mom, and my heart filled with warmth.
“I love you!” I said with happiness that she was my mommy, this beautiful lady.
I didn’t tug on her skirt that was waiting for a good spin, I didn’t poke my chubby little finger into her side. I knew better than to be a bother, so I stopped. I gave up being seen.
I knew the tightness in my chest and the ache in my tummy went with the feeling I didn’t have words for yet: Invisible. Unseen. My body was sad, and it was telling me through the sensations of pain and discomfort. And in time I learned to be glad for the times I was Seen, to save them up and hold the time that my sister told me how cute I looked, to absorb the kindness in a teacher’s eyes. I saved them, but in the long run I began to believe that Invisible was better. If I remained unseen by backing away and being quiet, and by trying to keep the peace by not bothering to even see myself and my needs, I didn’t get those troublesome feelings. Rather, I quit looking at them. I became Invisible to myself.
Our bodies are smart. While I was busy being Invisible to myself and realizing that with some people trying to be Visible brought more roaring and more pain, my body was trying to get my attention, to again become Visible. It was yanking on my skirt, poking me repeatedly in the side. And I kept ignoring it.
One day my body said “Enough!” and BOOM. Fibromyalgia. Constant pain and fatigue that could put me in bed, unable to cope with my regular day. BOOM. Terrible sleep became my companion, leaving me feeling like it was always 2 in the morning and I should be asleep. BOOM. Burning in my body, the feel of fire coursing through my extremities, and aching and more aching in my back, my shoulders, my torso. Simply getting out of bed in the morning was a massive act of my will.
I had to pay attention.
My flaws and frailties, my inability to stand up for myself, had landed firmly in my lap in the shape of a physical disability.
What will I do for myself today? I will listen to my body. I will risk being Visible. I will stand up for myself.
The BringYourOwnBeverage conversation: What will YOU risk today? Have you every felt Invisible? If so, how did you respond–did you decide to become Visible, or did you, like me, decide Invisible was a better place to hang out, to the detriment of your own body? How did Invisibility affect you?