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.
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.