Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Cellophane, Mrs. Cellophane…

Shoulda been my name
Mrs. Cellophane…
‘Cause people walk right by me
Look right through me
And never know I’m there…

Sometimes I feel invisible.

Sometimes, I feel like even my very best friends forget I exist and unless I scream at the top of my lungs, waving my arms madly to draw their attention, they would go through the rest of their lives never remembering that they once new a girl named Dawn.

It is hard for me to admit to this. I like to be thought of as the strong willed, funny type. I tend to be boisterous in a group setting, sometimes so much so that I make an ass out of myself. I tend to laugh loudly and interject my opinion. Sometimes I laugh too loudly or give an opinion that wasn’t asked for. I wear bright colors and unique clothing and jewelry. I tell jokes. I act the fool. When you are in a room with me, it isn’t hard to notice me.

I don’t want to be unseen. One of my biggest fears is to fade quietly away and be forgotten.

I was a shy child. Grown ups would talk and I would sit quietly and listen. They rarely noticed me. In new situations and settings, I clung to one of my parents or my brother. Strangers didn’t see me. I didn’t easily make friends, because I wasn’t the first person on the playground anyone would ever notice. It was hard for me to meet new people. I felt out of place in my own skin, and didn’t want to draw any attention to myself. My first day of High School, I remember not talking to anyone. This weird girl came up to me and said “Hi! I’m Robin. Do you want to be my friend?” That is pretty much a direct quote. At the end of the first day of High School, we were sitting in the gym, and she was sitting next to me. She stood up, stuck her hand out to shake mine, and pretty much sealed the deal. We became fast friends.

With Robin’s help, I learned new ways to break out of my shell. I learned that it’s OK to ask a question when you don’t know the answer. I learned that meeting new people can be scary, but it can be fun too. I learned that if you are comfortable with who you are no one can really make you feel bad.

I try, I really do. For a while, I was an open book and I met tons of people. I had friends from all parts of the world and all walks of life. I was able to strike up a conversation at the drop of a hat with anyone about anything. (And I mean anyone… I once had a 45 minute conversation with a bum on the bus while on my way from school back home. We discussed the Vietnam War and the political discord of the sixties. It was a very interesting discussion we had from three rows away.) However, no matter how open I was, I never stopped feeling insignificant. Like I was inadequate somehow…

And then the shyness returned.

I didn’t mean for it to happen. If there was a magic pill that would kill shyness forever, I would take it. If there was a secret spell or ritual that would keep me from these feelings of self-doubt, I would start a cult. If anyone would follow me, that is. I start to feel shy, then I start to feel doubt, then I start to notice a thousand slights – some intentional, some not – and I begin to once again feel myself loosing substance and opacity until air and light flow through me… Until I can feel people actually looking past me as though I was a slightly stained window. My voice gets quiet, as though it lack the physical power to project beyond a whisper. My eyes stop meeting the eyes of people on the street and in the hall. My smile becomes smaller, my posture suffers. It’s as though I am starting to shrink.

Today, I feel quite invisible.

I wish I could explain what brought this on. A dozen little things all at once coalesce and start to erase me. I can handle one, maybe two hurts without starting to collapse in on myself, but when things keep piling on top of things, it gets so I can’t see over the pile, until it topples on me and I am buried beneath it. I start to feel like I could cry at any minute and worse than that, no one would notice if I did. I start to notice – really notice – every hurt I have. I start to notice that I never get invited to lunch, that I never get invited to a movie, and that I’ve stopped receiving personal emails all together and that no one ever calls to talk to me, or asks me out for coffee or asks how my day is going. I start to notice that I live a life that is very isolated. I start to notice that even my husband seems too busy to notice that I have begun to shrink and fade away. I start to realize that I am writing a blog that probably never gets read by eyes other than my own. All of these things become more apparent and I start to feel less so.

I’ve tried to explain this feeling to all those who care about me at some point or another in the hazy past, and every last one of them has given me the same disgusted “Oh come on,” or “Get over it”. They tell me to lighten up or stop imagining things. They tell me that I am acting childishly or selfishly and that I need to grow up. They remind me that I wasn’t overlooked on purpose and that I am making too much of it. No one ever seems to think it important that the fact remains that I was indeed overlooked.

I suppose, if I am invisible, so then, is my pain.

I guess that all I can really do is try to hold on to the strong-willed boisterous woman inside until I become less transparent and I can re-solidify my presence.

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