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A six year-old named Grace asked to meet my cat. The cat was sleeping on the camper bunk, buried deep in the blankets on a cold winter day. He would not be coaxed out to meet a child he did not already know and trust.

We retreated. Grace was good-natured about the whole scene, though she didn’t understand why the cat would not greet her.

“Kitties are like people.” I say, “They all have different personalities. Some are shy and like to hide.”

“Like you?” she said, “I’ve never seen you before. Have you been hiding?”

A very astute comment from a six year-old, I tell her. We leave it there.

BC camper

Yes. I have been hiding for a long time.

For a long time being seen came with too many issues.

 

I want to see the world. I want to be a part of it.

Yet, often, I try to slide in through the side door and hope that no one will notice.

Of course I want to be seen. No, wait. That’s not what I want.

 

First, being seen came with consequences. Attracting attention also meant attracting criticism. Being heard attracted dismissal, condemnation. Being invisible was safer.

 

Then, being seen meant attraction of a different sort. A physical presence that was not understood drew attention. Being seen was flattering and dangerous in a different way.

 

Later, being seen meant jealousy, distrust, anger, withdrawal. Better to be invisible again.

 

I choose not to be invisible. I am not afraid of other people and their realities. I no longer make apologies.

 

I am not hiding.

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