Friday, 4 May 2018

On being invisible

We took the boys to watch Coco last week. I had heard good things about it and that it is a tear jerker of a movie. What I hadn't expected was the thread about a person disappearing because they are no longer remembered by anyone in the land of the living. This concept of invisibility even in death really struck a chord with me.

I've often heard women say that getting older makes them feel they become invisible. Once you are past the being wolf whistled at' or 'flirting to get your own way' stage you are are firmly in the 'far too sensible for all that nonsense' stage. I have to admit I have pretty much always felt invisible. I wasn't a remarkable child and if anyone noticed or stared at me I found it unsettling. At university I preferred not to draw attention to myself, but expressed myself in the student paper as arts editor or on the radio station.

As a parent I have ceased to exist in my own right. From the moment I became 'Brown Bear's mummy' to now when the kids just choose to ignore me. I know this is a universal experience, but it is still galling to be tuned out by my children. Until they want something that is. Then it's all "Mummeeeeee, why aren't you listening to me ?" whine whine whinge whinge.

Friendship is the big shift for me in terms of invisibility. I lost a great friend this year and I notice her absence from my life every day. When I think about things that I would have asked her or jokes I'd have shared with her or news items that we would have been outraged by together. Without her here I feel invisible and ineffective.

Sadly as well as losing a friend against my will I have had to let go of others. I realised that I didn't have the capacity to maintain the friendship and they were unwilling to meet me in the middle. To be honest it was my 'enabling' that made it possible for them to be so high maintenance. I've always made the effort and gone out of my way because I valued their friendship enough to put myself out and to offer. Then I realised that I wasn't as important to them and not worth making an effort for in their busy schedule. If someone has so little respect for me then maybe it is best to be invisible.

One of them probably won't even notice - I am that irrelevant in their life. The other berated me for expecting too much. Yep - I am a loyal and devoted friend and I love and care about my friends. If that isn't mutual then maybe it's not a friendship at all. Losing friends is sad, but in this instance I choose to be invisible.

Instead I have reconnected with a friend who I've known for a long time and who has come back to me at a difficult time. She has been so supportive and positive and I regret that we lost touch for so long. We have been there for each other at dark times in our lives and are painfully honest with each other. It is difficult to be invisible when someone knows you as well as we know each other.

And now I can't even hide behind my hair any more - the security blanket that protected me from prying eyes and judgemental looks. I am literally visible and I feel exposed and vulnerable. It is unsettling being seen. I think I may invest in a pair of large sunglasses to hide behind.

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