Have You Become Invisible?
On a recent visit to Hearst Castle with one of my dearest friends (Gina), I had a life defining moment…
I realized I had become invisible!
One night at sunset, Gina and I hit the gorgeous California coastline for a little exercise and fresh air. She ran to the North. She is a runner. I walked to the south. I am a walker. When we had both reached our halfway point, we turned around and were headed straight towards each other.
What happened next was horrifying. As we approached, I said “Hey”. She looked right through me and kept on running. She didn’t even see me.
It was if I was invisible!
There have been times in my life, when I wished I was invisible, but this wasn’t one of them. I could have brushed it off and explained it away. She was deep in thought, concentrating on keeping her pace. Whatever–no big deal, right?
But it was a big deal. It bothered me for weeks until I realized that the whole experience was a metaphor for an identity crisis—mine!
Gina and I met in our late teens. We had both just “broken the ties from our adolescence”. We embraced our newly discovered independence as we sped down the highway in her red mustang convertible. It was a real Thelma and Louise moment. We were inspired, brave, and full of purpose and potential…
Our auras were vibrant and strong. To this day, when I see Gina, I see her essence before I see her physical being. She is like Athena, goddess of war and wisdom. Her aura is so bright, that I am certain I could see it with my peripheral vision.
And so it has been through the course of our friendship. We hold the vision of our highest selves for each other. Gina knows my aura as well as I know hers, but this time, she didn’t see it.
Had it grown that dim?
The looming question was “why?” Who had I become? How had I let this happen?
Time is a test for all of us. We face different challenges during different decades. Generally speaking, our 20’s are for discovering our true identity and breaking away from the parental influences. The 30’s are about building the career, the family, the empire. In the forties, after having focused so much of ourselves on careers, children, husbands and family, we might fall victim to this phenomenon.
Reduced to footprints in the sand–we become invisible.
Identity crisis is not just for men. In some ways, I think women may be even more affected. It’s just that not too many of us try to find ourselves again through fast cars and men half our age, so our struggles don’t make the headlines.
Now, I am grateful for that brief but unacknowledged passing on the boardwalk.
In the process of dealing with the trauma, I was graced with a distant memory. 15 years ago, a favorite employee gave me a simple, but powerful gift. It was a beautiful necklace with a charm that said one word, “inspire”. He said I had been one of the biggest inspirations in his life and he wanted me to remember that daily. I should have never stopped wearing that necklace.
Thankfully, I realized that the one thing I owe myself is to step back into my fading foot prints and reclaim the newer, better me.
I know I am not alone. After recent conversations with many women friends, I am now aware that this is fairly common. The solution lies in acknowledgement and personal accountability.
That defining moment on the boardwalk in Cambria was a tipping point. I came to the brutal realization that I (and I alone) had let myself go, (literally) from inspiring to invisible. And it is my duty now to morph the prior inspiring self, with the new, wiser, more influential person I am becoming.
But, invisible can be comfortable. Many of us get there and decide to stay for decades. Becoming visible again is no easy feat. In my case, even though my essence is essentially the same, circumstances of my life are not.
Therein lays the challenge. When we get caught up in the drudgery of everyday responsibilities, it is easy to lose touch with who we are. If you are lucky, you’ll have an experience like mine that will jolt you back to reality.
If you are so fortunate, embrace it. Do what-ever you can to open your mind to new possibilities so you can give your past self an introduction to your future self. Take a class, enlist professional help, or simply allow yourself to do something that makes you feel alive. Journal. Soul search. Travel. Cleanse. Learn from the masters of metamorphosis… goddesses like Cher, Madonna, Bette, and Lady Gaga. They have always managed to keep it new, (and you probably won’t even need a meat dress to be successful).
P.S. This post is dedicated to all of the amazing women I know. To me, you are beacons of light visible through the darkest night.