11/14/2007

I'm No Longer Invisible

Image from www.fanniemay.com

In response to Christine Kane's latest post about the power of language, I was reminded of something that was reinforced for me recently on Tim Gunn's Guide to Style: If you carry yourself with confidence (stand straight, walk purposefully), not only will other people's perception of you be positive, but you'll feel more confident yourself! Just by changing how you walk! In my response, I said there's such a difference when I walk with my head up through the grocery store, and when I slouch through, trying to be invisible. I'm not invisible!

And that has been a lesson itself through this wonderful life I've lead. Just recently, I got - truly got - that my actions impact others. For some of you, this will be... duh! Of course they do! But I honestly didn't know that. I had been told that. I had been exposed to that idea, through the 12 steps. But I didn't know it on a real level. I was invisible, the invisible girl.

I believe I internalized that throughout my childhood. My wants and needs were rarely, if ever, heard. My ideas were not honored. I remember speaking to my mom, and frequently getting
no response. None at all. Being invisible was safer, anyway. If I was invisible, then no one would yell at me, or belittle me, or hit me.

Recently, the ex and I sold some things at a group yard sale. A cookie jar was among the items we were selling, and a boy, about 8 years old, *desperately* wanted that cookie jar. His eyes lit up when he saw it! He showed it to his Dad, and he showed it to his Mom. He was SO excited about it. I didn't realize his mom had said he could buy anything he wanted if it was under $1, so when he asked how much it cost, I said $1.25. He went away, dejected. I asked Seth to chase him down to tell him I'd love to sell it to him for $1, but before Seth could get there, I heard the boy *begging* his Dad to get it. His Dad held firm - "Sorry, but your mom said you could buy it if it was a dollar or less." I couldn't understand it! I mean, he *loved* the cookie jar - could his Dad not hand him a freakin' quarter? Conventional parenting would tell you to hold that boundary, that kids have to learn you mean what you say, etc. That's why I'm not a conventional parent. Anyway - when Seth told him about the sudden sale on cookie jars, he practically *skipped* over to the table to buy it. His Dad came over, embarrassed: "I don't know why he wants that thing so much!" I said, "You don't have to know why. Just knowing he does is enough." With a big smile. I hope he pondered that.

The whole exchange brought up so many feelings for me. I knew why he wanted it - or I thought I could guess. It was a Christmas cookie jar, that looked like a snowman. I figured he was picturing when his house was decorated for Christmas, there would be that cookie jar on the counter.
His cookie jar, that he had picked out, and bought. He wouldn't be invisible. He'd have an impact on his environment, his home. (Not that I was projecting or anything.)

Before I had Evan, I never weighed over 100 pounds my whole life. I was 27 when he was born. I didn't starve myself, or binge and purge. I was just small. I realized, after I never got back to pre-pregnancy weight, that I was keeping myself small. I didn't want to take up too much space. I wanted to be invisible. But having a kid, man, having a kid means I'm here. It means I have an impact. So, it took me a while to get that lesson on a larger scale. I hope, that by hearing the boys, honoring their needs and wants, taking their ideas seriously, they'll never feel invisible. Unless being invisible is their superpower that day.

I'm not invisible. I have an impact. I matter. Just typing those words makes me sit up straighter. Or was it, sitting up straighter helped me type those words?


4 comments:

whimsigal said...

Wow, what a post. I just had a bad moment (my fault) with my youngest. As a former conventional parent those qualities sometimes rear their ugly heads and before I know it, I've taken a stand on something ridiculous, just because. This post reminds me how much of an impact we have on our children and as unschoolers we have chosen to forget the "conventional wisdom" and listen to our children and respond in a kind fashion.

It's weird how life leads you to things just when you need to read them most. I found your blog through the Pioneer Woman's site. I'm in NC, too!

Leah said...

hey there, caren! yes, i found ya through checking my stats. so sneaky! :-) anyways, i won't link to your blog unless you say it's ok, but i wanted you to know that i'd been stopping in and i'm loving your blog! this was such a great post. i can relate to that feeling of wanting to be invisible and then realizing when it's not serving you anymore to be invisible. i'm so glad you were able to sell that cookie jar to the little boy. (((hugs)))

Colleen said...

Caren, I love this post. It got me all teary-eyed! :)

Schuyler said...

"Before I had Evan, I never weighed over 100 pounds my whole life. I was 27 when he was born. I didn't starve myself, or binge and purge. I was just small. I realized, after I never got back to pre-pregnancy weight, that I was keeping myself small. I didn't want to take up too much space. I wanted to be invisible. But having a kid, man, having a kid means I'm here. It means I have an impact."

I was tiny before I got pregnant. Tall and skinny. I like the idea that the change is about being more willing to be big and bold and brassy. Something solid to lean on and hide behind and to cuddle into. Cuddling into me is a big thing in our house. I like those words.

Thank you.