For When You Feel Unseen

Once, over a loud and lively dinner, I felt unseen. The laughs were inside jokes. The stories were about Isabelles, Stevens, Mayas I didn't know. The references were to things I hadn't watched, done, heard of.

As the evening continued, the story I began to tell myself was that this dinner would be no different if I wasn't there. My absence would go unnoticed.

I'd like to say that when dessert came, someone turned to me and said, "Now, Caitie, we finally get to hear all about you." But dessert came, went, and no one turned to me.

I sat, miserable, believing the story I was telling myself. But just as I was about to slip into self-pity, I wondered how many other people were sitting around similar tables feeling similar ways.

Surely hundreds, I thought. Probably thousands. Maybe millions? Which made me want to grab a bullhorn and tell them, "No! No! Don't believe the story. You do matter!"

I couldn't do that, of course. But at least I could tell myself. Which I did. I told myself, "You aren't alone. You can't be unseen. Unless you don't see you. Which you're not about to do, are you?"

And the thing is, when we see something, really what we're doing is giving our love to it. So, I gave my love to all those fragments in me that felt unseen, forgotten, unloved.

And slowly, without grace or ease, I rewrote the story I had told myself. I used kinder words and arrived at more openhearted conclusions. This dinner would never be wonderful for me. But at least I could make it more compassionate for me.

So, when you find yourself around a similar table, here is my bullhorn call in your ear: You are not alone. You are not unseen. And don't you ever stop seeing you, okay?

The Lightning Notes is funded by kind donors. If something here strikes you, I'd be grateful if you'd consider donating. Click to Donate!

Growing WiserCaitie Whelan