Anxiously Unseen

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unseen woman{From time to time, Rochester Mom will publish posts anonymously to protect the author from sensitive information shared with our readers. Also, please note this post was written prior to COVID-19.}

Sometimes, when I arrive home after my day at work, I feel like I haven’t been seen all day. 

Now, I’m not writing this to reveal that I have an invisibility superpower, or an invisibility cloak from the magical world of Harry Potter. Unfortunately, I feel this because my interactions throughout the day, especially at work, often leave me feeling misunderstood, misinterpreted, or even ignored. 

Unseen. 

Invisible. 

The weight of that invisibility slowly flattens me down as we proceed Monday through Friday. It aggregates with each passing day and each morning I start off a little lower than the previous one. Get to work, do my work hour after hour, say “hello!” and “good morning” and “nice to see you,” but I rarely get many words returned back to me. Most days I still greet people and try and chat, even though the percent of positive responses feels staggeringly low. My brain flies through explanations, most of them centered on me not being worth the time or energy for a response, or to engage with. So many times I just want to give up on reaching out, because it’s just so exhausting. And alienating. Am I the only person who feels this way? Does anyone else wish to herself, “Just once, could someone reach out to me?”

In my personal life I don’t feel this nearly as frequently as I do at work. My husband and children are all in with me, so that is a buoy. Of course there are also moments when my husband sees me a little *too* well, but we all need that person who can call us out, right? There’s no pretending with him, and for that I’ll call him my true north; he can help me figure out how to reorient my thinking when I get home after a rough day. 

In my friendships, I am the person “checking in” and remembering other people’s “things” and asking about them. How is your sick kiddo? How did your big meeting go? How was your Mom’s medical appointment? My friends are constantly on my mind, and when I think of someone I shoot them a text message to let them know. That’s not typical behavior for a lot of people, though, and I find myself wishing every once in a while that I would be on the receiving end of one of those “check in” messages. Wouldn’t it be lovely if someone who sees me were to also think of me and want to know how I am? What does it feel like to receive a text message just because, and not simply a reply to a message I sent? These thoughts fill my mind as I try and fall asleep each night.

You may be thinking, “Wow, this lady is hard on herself, and hard on the people around her. Maybe her colleagues have their own stuff to think about and can’t be worrying about her. And the same for her friends.” My logical mind knows that I am letting other people’s actions impact me too much, even though other people’s actions are out of my realm of control. But to try and act on logic on an invisible day? That’s nearly impossible. After all, knowing and believing are vastly different verbs.

Recently an acquaintance of mine shared the article, “The Worst Part Of Anxiety Is Feeling Unloved, Unimportant, And Unappreciated” by Holly Riordan and as soon as I read the title, I KNEW. Or, more accurately, I HOPED. I hoped that this might mean maybe I wasn’t as invisible as I felt. Maybe my brain, my anxiety, was partially responsible for all this. Maybe the people at work weren’t ignoring me…maybe they were simply indifferent and my anxious brain mis-processed it. In her article, Ms. Riordan wrote,

“The worst part of anxiety is feeling like you’re unloved, unimportant, and unappreciated — but you have to remember that your anxiety is playing tricks on you. The horrible things you’ve been thinking other people are thinking aren’t true. No one is judging you as harshly as you’ve been judging yourself. No one else hates you as much as you hate your anxiety.”

Oh, Anxiety the Trickster…you weave such cunning tales; tales that easily make me feel unimportant. But now that I know this is one of your favorite tricks to play on me, if my feelings of being invisible and unappreciated start to get loud in my head, I can reach out to my loved ones who, time and time again, help me see you for what you really are.

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