In 1933 there was "The Invisible Man" movie made off of the H. G. Wells book. In 2000 Elizabeth Shue and Kevin Bacon starred in "Hollow Man" which also was about an invisible man. Then finally in 2020 there was an additional "The Invisible Man" movie released. Most of these are horror flicks and more sinister. What I am addressing in todays blog is the person that is walking around you that is in reverse of these movies. You can see them, but they feel like they are not seen, and personally might feel like their life is a horror movie.
I confess that this is a phenomena that is quite common in todays culture, but was lost on me prior to my son passing, and me embarking on this grief journey. When I went down this lonely path with few along the way, I started realizing that I was so lonely and didn't feel noticed. It is easy to misinterpret this as needing or craving attention. It is not about being the center of attention, but being placed in the overall circle of people around you where they actually acknowledge your existence.
In the instance of the death of a loved one, it is not uncommon for there to be people surrounding you for the first 30 days. Every time you go out to the mailbox you are getting sympathy cards, gift cards, the occasional flower arrangement or wind chime delivered. Once the novelty (I mean no disrespect with calling it by that name) wears off, then people sink back into the woodwork. I remember tearing up that day that I went out to the mailbox and there were no more grief cards. There was a part of me that was relieved, and the other part of me knew that I was on my own. Now to figure out how to navigate the shallows with no oar in the boat. It was quite intimidating when you are used to being surrounded by people, but feel lonely and unseen. This addresses those that are going through the shock and trauma of losing a loved one, now lets look at those around us that are just struggling in life with not being seen.
COVID lock-downs were very detrimental on the mental health of our society, and those around the world. We started seeing suicide rates sky rocket, drug overdoses exponentially increase, as well as the amount of couples who filed for divorce. Why do you think that is? A lot of studies have been done on this topic all around the globe, but one of the detractors that stands out is what I like to call Escapism. It is a fight or flight mechanism when you are in a confined space with someone, and you disagree and argue non-stop as a result of confinement, and you fight, but during the lock-downs people were not able to "flight" or flee. There were many news articles that were done about couples that wanted to get a divorce, but couldn't due to attorneys not being in offices, and courthouses shut down. All that to say that we are now experiencing the clean-up of this after the fact, and have a lot of people severely effected. Sure, AAA might say that travel for vacations is at an all time high due to people wanting to get out of the house, but they still have many issues that they are working through everywhere they go.
What about that person that just appears to always be depressed and a loner, and never gets invited to any guys or girls nights out. They get on Facebook and see pictures of who they thought were their friends, all posing for a night out on the town, while they were skipped over and left at home in their loneliness. I can guarantee you, they do not feel seen. They feel very invisible to everybody around them, and in the air of not offending, they play it off if ever asked, and act like it is not a big deal. It is a big deal! I have both been that guy that excluded those around me, because lets face it they appear "weird" or aren't a part of my click. Then I have also been on the receiving end of that, where I have been excluded from almost everybody and their groups. Nobody wants a sympathy invite, so make sure if you have been dishing out the avoidance, that you check your heart at the door prior to extending an invite to someone appearing invisible. When we start looking at those around us as people, and not projects, then this world will be a more harmonious place.
In conclusion, I want to drill down on the first sentence that I opened with, I SEE YOU. From time to time when my wife has that look of debilitating grief in her eye, I will tell her "I SEE YOU." When a friend of mine is going through the ringer with trials in life, I will say to him, I SEE YOU. Are you that person that is walking around like The Invisible Man, and do not feel that anybody sees you? If so, I get it. However, just having empathy does nothing to change your situation. I encourage you to go back to my previous blog written about how to ask for help. I too was in that place for such a long time that I started to harbor bitterness towards those who excluded me, and acted like I didn't exist. Now that I have stuck my head up out of my groundhog hole and asked for help, I now am more secure and can talk with others about opportunities of inclusivity with me on their next event. If you are the one that is ignoring that certain person that needs to be seen, I would ask you to check your heart and evaluate if that is you. I would venture to say that we fill both rolls throughout life. I have heard others label somebody that might appear to be high maintenance, as "extra grace required." While that might be the case, maybe...just maybe they need a friend, and it might just be what you need as well. Not just a project to take on, but a person in need of some love. I SEE YOU!!!