Sometimes I crave alone time. It's not so much that I want to disappear anymore, it's that I need to recharge after facing the public. I need a certain amount of time to be by myself, and I crave isolation. I don't think people are meant to be cut off from each other, closed off in tiny cubicles, but I do realize that I'm not the only one who needs space on occasion.
I can tell that with the pressure to write one post per day instead of the one per week I normally do, my writing is suffering a little bit, though the exercise of writing daily is probably good for me. The "change" post could have used some further development. Still, I'm making an effort to get these posts done with at least a little bit of coherence, even though I'm sure most of them will be on the shorter side. This task makes me understand why many of the daily bloggers use many, many photos in their posts. Oh all right - I know, I know - there are decent bloggers who post good material daily. Maybe I'm just lazy when it comes right down to it, though I've been told I waste time blogging. I wanted to participate, because I found out about the challenge in an eating disorders awareness group. It seemed like a good idea given the nature of my blog. It has been interesting to see how others in the group write about the same word we are all given. Some of my posts relate to topics in my manuscript or to articles I'm writing, which makes them a little easier to spit onto the computer screen. Still, it's a challenge to write one a day. Oddly enough, my agent just got done telling me we should focus on the blog a bit more in terms of promoting my manuscript, so I'm looking at this as a positive thing, despite what anyone else might say or think.
When I was in the throes of my eating disorder, and I'm talking wading through the mire, not when I was merely starving myself while running hard, I wanted to disappear. I almost did! What a painful way to go though, not just for me but for those around me who were forced to watch. Often, an eating disorder can make us isolate and not want to face the world. The disorder, like any addiction, can be something we end up wanting to hide. It's a difficult topic to discuss, especially with people who haven't gone down a similar path and have difficulty relating. Let's face it, it's draining to have the brain of an anorexic, bulimic or binge eater, so having extra energy to engage in life while struggling with one of these disorders isn't always possible. In terms of wanting to be invisible, we can feel undeserving of taking up space, so we shrink, sometimes literally. By the time I got to this point in my life, I was past feeling powerful and in control of my eating like I had in the early stages of the illness. I had let the disordered part of my mind completely take over my life to the point that it felt like a force outside me that was far beyond anything I could even dream of controlling.
I can't deny the guilt I felt for being too much, too big in my childhood. I was so tormented as a kid. It's no wonder I eventually felt the need to be small and longed to be less visible. When I had fallen more completely into all the blackness that the severe anorexia caused and because I was no longer running well, I was back to being a target of ridicule and teasing, at least that's what I thought. God forbid I stop running and get fat, right? People would surely talk. Better to disappear completely. These days I'm a little bit better about "breaking free from fear" and being more in the world, though I have my moments of wanting and needing to retreat, sometimes from everyone and sometimes only from certain individuals. I always say it, but it takes balls to be well, healthy and confident in this world. It takes courage to stand up and say, "Hey! Here I am!" At times in my life, I didn't want anyone to notice all my flaws, real or perceived.
Of course, as a stand out runner in high school and college, I was forced into the spotlight. I was far from invisible then, but the attention wasn't always positive. Initially, the focus on Lize that the newspapers gave me fed something I felt was lacking in my life. Eventually it got to be draining though. As my running declined, I was less on center stage. The contrast of getting media attention to becoming anonymous was difficult, even if the attention I got initially was not always the right kind, and privacy was what I really wanted. Once I was back to being less in the public eye, part of me missed the recognition and part of me was glad I was becoming a ghost. If I wasn't Lize the runner, who was I? Nobody. No wonder I started to fade. I had already lost myself before I started to wither physically.
Obviously, the idea of invisibility can be the opposite of what I first described- a feeling of not being seen or heard when the desire to be fully visible is there. Everybody wants to feel acknowledged. It's difficult to suppress disappointment when there's a sense that people have pushed the ignore button on you. I remember years ago when I was at a party with my boyfriend at the time who is now a good friend. The people at the party were a tad snooty, but I made an effort to join the conversation. Unfortunately, each of the three times I tried to speak up, someone talked over me. My guy was just so awesome in the way he handled it. He could see that I was frustrated and feeling slighted, so he looked me directly in the eye and said, "What were you saying?" Then we had our own little private conversation, apart from the main crowd. I felt more loved and heard than if the entire group had been focused on my every word.
Feeling visible can be a matter of confidence and self acceptance. Dr. Margaret Paul states, "We become invisible to others regarding our feelings and needs and who we really are, when our feelings and needs are invisible to ourselves. When we consistently ignore ourselves in deference to others, others ignore us as well." It can take a fair amount of courage to be heard. Had I really wanted to make a statement, I could have continued to try to speak in the above situation. As it was, it worked out just fine for me. If my ex hadn't done what he did, I likely would have kept attempting to speak. However, the bigger issue is feeling OK whether or not others acknowledge you.