Posts Tagged With: Invisibility

“It Takes a Life to Learn How to Live”

Right off the bat let me give credit for my title today to  Jonathan Safran Foer, author of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. There’s some profound wisdom in that book. Those nine words alone speak volumes of truth.

My friend Kathy asked me a question a couple of months ago that stopped me cold. I couldn’t come up with a good response. A quick answer wasn’t going to do it this time. I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

And then today on a prompt from WordPress Daily Post the same basic question in a slightly different form, raised its head and accessed that box I’d stuffed into a distant corner of my head. Here’s the question:

“What’s your biggest regret? How would your life have been different if you’d made another decision?”

Here’s my answer:

I regret wasting so much time thinking I wasn’t good enough. 

The kid in the far reaches of the playground, hovering alone, her back turned to all the fun?  Me. I figured I wasn’t good enough to have friends. I didn’t measure up, I wasn’t included. I became afraid, picked on, ridiculed and invisible.

Detour ahead?Invisible feels worse than picked on. Invisible hurts in a hundred different long-lasting ways.

There were other invisible and picked on and outcast kids. I figured that out in my teen years and that was who I gravitated toward. Sometimes that was a good thing, especially when those kids were the nerds, the smart ones, the bookish know-it-alls. I mirrored the behaviors of the kids I hung out with and those had a  profound influence for good.

Sometimes the invisibles were the parking lot crowd, the skip-class-to-do-anything-else group. But at least I was good enough for them. They accepted me in their own angry, we don’t care about you way. I didn’t like myself even more when I spent time with them, but it was better than being alone, usually.

By time I reached college I had a pseudo-self esteem based mostly on my book smarts. But then I found out everyone else was as smart or smarter than I was and I was an invisible, not good enough person again. Just an ant in a crowded hive of excelling ants.

I wasted tons of years thinking I wasn’t a good enough student, girl, wife, mother, housekeeper, employee, friend, daughter, sister, woman, volunteer or person.

What this wasted thinking did was waste a huge portion of my life. I felt sorry for myself instead of looking outside of myself. I caved inward and saw only what I didn’t have instead of all the phenomenal blessings I did have.

I tucked inside myself like a pair of socks rolled up tight sitting in the back corner of a dark drawer. I didn’t give, I didn’t get. I just existed. What a waste.

Skip a decade or so and leave out the sordid details. Finally, somehow, somewhere what I had, who I was began to morph into an okayness. More than that, I began feel worthwhile. I began to feel like I was enough. Me, where I was and what I was doing was good, worthwhile, worthy, wonderful, and of value.

The Lonely Road

(Photo credit: Storm Crypt)

What a long, uphill road I trudged to get there.

I turn around and look back at the path I took to get to today and part of me wants to crumble in to a heap on the ground and weep. I want to cry for the wasted time, the wasted opportunities, the wasted impact I could have had. I want to feel sorry for myself again. But I won’t.

Nope.

That’s an even bigger waste of time. I’m who I am because of the path I’ve taken to get here, which is good enough for me. That’s all that really matters anyway. What do I think? What others think of me isn’t as important as what I think of me.

My conclusion?

I AM good enough.

No regrets.

Not anymore.

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Categories: People, Relationships, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

The Small Things That Get Us Through

The last four months of last year I was working two part-time jobs.  Added up to about fifty or sixty hours a week.  They were physically demanding, on my feet for much of it.  A lot of lifting and carrying involved.  The exhaustion was formidable.  After all, I’m not a spring chicken, as my dad used to say.  There were days when simply getting out of bed seemed like a major accomplishment.

One of the jobs, in particular, was the sort of position that  can make a person feel invisible and maybe even small.  There are a few jobs out there like that.  I’ve had a few of them over the years.

There are advantages to that invisibility.  Being disappeared allowed me to observe with unabashed curiosity and clarity.  I watched all sorts of interactions between people that I filed away for future inclusion in a short story or a scene in a novel.

Most of the time I didn’t mind not being noticed.  I was doing my job, which, if I didn’t would be noticed and create some big problems.  Maybe that’s the way most jobs are.

Occasionally, a tough day would rear its ugly head and getting through the first job of the day was discouraging and weightier than normal.  Moods can do that to me.  On just such a day, nearing the holidays, I was the recipient of a gift.

I’m sure that the gift giver didn’t realize how significant her gift was.  I’m sure she didn’t even consider it a gift.  She’d be shocked if she knew I thought of that gift a year later, that I still have the package the gift came in.

Here’s what it looked like:

Yes, she offered me a cup of hot chocolate in this very cup, which I’ve kept.

Suddenly I wasn’t a disappeared person.  I was me, a fellow human being, like her, just trying to get through the day.  The invisibility cloak slipped off my head and fell to the floor around me.  I felt cared about.

Somewhere in the universe, some cog clicked into place that settled some ache in my heart that day.  I felt lighter.  I felt lifted.  I felt love.

Her gift to me was more than hot chocolate.  It was acknowledgment, personhood, a hand of kindness, recognition, friendliness, caring.

Reminds me of this quote:

I can do no great things, only small things with great love.“
– Mother Teresa

Here’s wishing  you a month filled with small things, received and given.

Have you had anything like this happen to you?  What was the gift?  How did it help you? I’d love to hear about it.

Categories: Gratitude, Love | Tags: , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

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