I would like to know exactly when I became invisible.
The best way to describe it is I’ve been commandeered by my own life and I no longer move of my own volition. I’m not even asked where I would like to go anymore. My life simply needs my corporeal form to carry out its mission and I have no choice but to move along. The power of the sum of my life choices is scaring the ever-loving f*ck out of me. It has mutated and will eat me alive.
Any inkling at all that life will now stop and ask what I want is truly laughable.
I have made all my choices deliberately, and I value them. However, the demands that my life choices make from me are growing exponentially and astronomically every day. I function as wife, mother, daughter, sister, in-law, co-worker, subordinate, colleague, alum, friend, volunteer, etc. The sum of these roles should not define me as a person yet I’m finding that I’ve allowed these roles to define me as a person because that’s what society needs from women my age. No one stops to look at everything I do, but just focuses on one little part which incidentally, needs something from me. I am not a person in the Gestalt sense, but I’ve been deconstructed into tiny little bits that function synchronistically.
The invisibility of older women is a familiar phenomenon in a culture where youth must be preserved at all costs in order for a woman to be valued. As long as a woman can perform a function, she has value. Women are defined as valuable if they are decorative, as an object of sexual desire, as a driver for her offspring, and as multitaskers working stoically through any pain or challenge. We must be useful to someone. If we’re not useful, no one can see us, and that is the sad truth.
I realized that I became invisible when I confessed something very human and all I got back was a blank stare. The idea that I can be tired or broken is incongruous to anyone else, or maybe it’s been repeated so often (which doesn’t make it any less true) that it has lost its meaning. I’m struggling with the idea of just being a role (not a person) and that my value lies in my usefulness to another. Do we all do this to each other? Maybe this is not just a challenge for me, but for us all to recognize the person behind the avatar we see each day.
I watched the movie Avatar years ago but one of things that I remember and still love about it was the “I see you” greeting by the Na’vi. I loved the elegance and recognition of the being you are talking to. I know that the Na’vi greeting is directly appropriated from the Hindu greeting of Namaste, but the essence of the greeting is beautiful and it should find a variation in every society every day. People need to be acknowledged and noticed. And appreciated.
I didn’t intend to rant today although by this point you understand that my fingers are not moving of my own volition.