29 Jun

I’ve talked about this once before but I wanted to expand on it. It seems to me that when someone is in a wheel chair, suddenly you no longer exist to the outside world. Since you are below eye level, many people stop noticing your very existence. Until you bellow at the top of your lungs a polite “Excuse Me!!” or a cheerful “Beep Beep!!”

I’ve been in a wheel chair for nine weeks at Disney World. This is mainly because my endurance level is very low. But it IS getting better. Sunday I was able to go three and a half hours without needing a chair. And that’s after walking the day before at IKEA for two hours unassisted.

Sure, this is annoying. But there’s another type of invisibility I want to talk about. It’s the kind of invisibility that you as a survivor of any kind of trauma probably see on a regular basis. Here’s an example.

Say you’re a cancer survivor going through chemo. The hair has gone bye by so you wear a bandanna on your head. People will look your direction, recognize the reason for the bandanna, get that tell tale look of pity and then look away.

Before I had my reconstruction surgery and my chest was still mangled, there were times I saw that look and then the look away. The quick dip of the chin and the briefly closed eyes say “Damn that sucks”. And the quick steps in the opposite direction speak volumes of “Glad that’s not me”.

I don’t expect anything else. Not really. I don’t expect that suddenly people will start being more conscious of wheelchairs. I don’t expect people to suddenly feel comfortable around survivors of trauma. I don’t think most people know how to deal with it anyway. It’s just one of those things that’s part of dealing with the human species.

I think this is one of the reasons that I have kept my hair pink. So that I wouldn’t be invisible. It also drew attention away from my chest. It seems to have acted as bright pink camouflage in a way. Hair slight of hand.

I have a new quote that I came up with today. Feel free to use it and give me credit.

“The idea is not to fit in. The idea is to stand out.” – Maria Myrback


4 responses to “Invisibility

  1. Quintus

    July 16, 2009 at 7:32 am

    Funny, how we learn to manipulate the cues to survive. Some use it to become predators. Other, slightly more evolved ones learn the language of the predators in an effort to confuse. It’s an intriguing topic.

    I don’t mean to intrude on your space, merely to complement your musings.
    I respect the hell out of you for putting up with everywhere you’ve been with such grace and humanity. We’re bodies of evidence, as it were.

    We’re not standing out, per se. Just throwing off the folks who want to call us ‘idiot hipsters’. I’m not the type to swing a sword. If it comes to that I’m prepared for it. In my life trials I’ve spent a good deal of time asserting my ability to fight. Trying to prove it as well. I don’t feel I need to. I have enough aggression to assert myself, but I’m not a prisoner of it anymore.

    Sword? Fffpt. I’m much more powerful with a pen or a pair of wrenches and a tape-measure.

    You asked me once how do I keep the will to fight?

    I get it from the Dad, methinks.

    Mom’s done a fine job as well. It’s not their fault. I spent twenty-some years looking for something that wasn’t missing. It’s the encouragement and double standards that were always the most deeply troubling. These have a way of magnifying when your parents split when you’re 2.

    To become fearless I had to confront the monstrosity of my own being. I might have to cut and run because this is starting to make some water.

    I had to almost completely lose my mind to find myself. The hardest part about ‘the abyss’ is pulling yourself. So I learned to put my emotions on the shelf in day to day life. I wear headphones when I go shopping. It’s not that I dislike people. I’ve just learned not to trust the masses. I’ve seen what they do with their words.

    I suppose ‘walking the line’ is how you figure out who your allies really are.

    I’m really bad at describing how I feel about people, but I never forget the ones who treat my like a human being. Or to thank them, however late it may be. I gotta go for now.

    Namaste, Lady Herb


  2. Quintus

    July 16, 2009 at 7:36 am

    pulling yourself OUT of the abyss šŸ˜›

    • Herbwoman

      July 16, 2009 at 10:33 am

      This is what this whole blog is about. That, and sharing information for people who might be in the same place i was in. You’ve known me quite a while so you’ve seen me flounder around a few times trying to find my way. My main m.o. is to analyze the crap out of things. Sometimes, like in THIS post, that analysis happens WHILE I’m writing. I find those moments to be very cathartic.

      Trust me when I say I’m out of the Abyss. I’m just working out the kinks now šŸ˜€

  3. Quintus

    July 19, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    A little something more to chew on, for you šŸ™‚

    And anyone else who’s interested.



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