Me: a clean white line
the limits and boundaries marked out
at the edge of my fingers; and I, I-
feeble I, a noun hovering over a snow-lit silence,
the brittle ice cracks that encrust my rock-solid
heart, a red stone of beating fire within the chest,
disassociated from– me, world, it; leering
over my shoulder with a wolfish grin, its teeth
a metal hard line outlining the horizon, as the me
swirls, sinks into the whirl womb of the soul
away, away from all that stands exterior, obtuse,
obscene, outside of the clean white cell of the I
a self-sustaining capsule, an individual ecosystem;
subtracted from the subject noun of setting,
hovering in-between here and neither.
My friend J recently did an energy reading of my auric field, and she mentioned that one of the things she noticed was that I was very fuzzy at my edges (a product of weak boundaries), and almost see-through and jellyfish-like especially towards my legs. However, she noted that my feet were very tethered to the ground, which seemed to be the only thing preventing me from floating away. This echoes comments that my partner has made multiple times: I am so airy it sometimes seems I continuously snap between this earth realm and space. J also mentioned there was also a lot of static and electrical jolts about my head; it seemed as if my mind was outside itself: not surprising again, if you know my compulsion to theorize/ deconstruct and my general inability to concentrate in daily life.
All these made me think about the idea of visibility or invisibility, voice, and your perception of yourself in your environment. I’ve always been see-through. In some ways, it has kept me safe in the past.
Invisibility is one of my ‘powers’, if you could call it that. I could always make myself disappear in a room and nobody would notice me. When I walk down the street, no one ever thinks to make any passing comment or glance my way. As a result, you could say I’m strangely alien to the experience of street harassment. But the sacrifice of this seeming superpower is more damaging than anything else: by making myself invisible, I was also shrinking myself and my thoughts, my existence in this world. I am saying to the world: I am too much, I am always in excess. Therefore, I will make myself smaller so nobody notices me, so I am ‘not a bother to anyone’.
The funny thing is, people mistake this invisibility as a quietness. They think that I am quiet because I am shy, when it’s just that engaging too deeply in situations is far too much a strain on my energy resources, because things tend to get ‘sticky’ for me if I put myself out there in the world. I feel people’s energies rubbing off me like sandpaper, and sometimes they stick to me in a way that I can’t wash off for hours or days after. When I am truly engaging with a person, I feel the enormity of their energy fields piercing mine, including their past, present and possible future pathways. This can be a blessing if we are mutually exchanging energies and sharing our experiences. If our fields are not compatible, I often feel it jarring against me. If the person is used to taking from others energetically in order to further their own healing (and a lot of people in the process of healing from trauma or mental disorders can be like this to no fault of their own), I feel it almost like a pulling away from me. A desperate clinging of their energy to mine, like a gooey adhesive that won’t let go. I perceive it as an attack and I immediately withdraw. That’s why I choose most of the time not to engage, but to ‘disappear’. It serves me to be absent because being present can be too demanding and I just am not sure how to react in such situations.
But such disappearance is just a parlour trick because by becoming invisible, you are also denying your soul’s ability to be in this world. You are also shrinking your ability to express yourself, to create, to put yourself out there by channeling forces greater than yourself: your connection to your higher self, which holds within it all the potentialities of all that you can be. Even though I’m coping with reality by disassociating or putting myself ‘out of the situation’, meaning my consciousness chooses not to engage with the physical reality of people around me, I’m also removing myself from growth or experience. I am not allowing the parts of me that made me want to go invisible in the first place to re-integrate with the present parts of me and to interact with the environment about it: to change and be changed. I am putting myself in a static Edenic bubble where I am safe, a capsule indivisible, a single syllable abstracted from the terrors of society, as the poem that prefaced this piece goes.
This is something I’m having to work with: how to be visible again, how to present myself out into the world and say that I am here. I am still not comfortable with being seen, which brings me to my second point: Voice.
J also noticed that there was a bind in the back of my throat, almost like “the foundation for an old bridge that was once standing, but is gone now”. I immediately recognized that this bind was connected to my history of being mute. As a kid, besides being invisible, I also almost never talked. Each time I spoke, I would say a spell in my head because I believed that I only had a finite number of words I could speak, and so I preferred to ‘save my words’. I also felt that every time I spoke, the words would get caught in the back of my throat, unable to come out. After awhile, I got used to being mute. It was a shield against the world. When I did talk, I used stuffed animals as my ventriloquists. While this appeared cute to adults, it actually stemmed for a deep fear of being visible to them, because I was afraid that I would be ‘seen’.
As I became a teenager, my mute personality at home became more separated from my social school personality who engaged, laughed, and played with my classmates. I was brim-full of words, of silly jokes and ridiculous turns of phrases. The words rollicked out of my tongue unbridled but when I returned home, the muteness would sweep over me like a white silent hill and I would be unable to talk again, despite how hard the iron fist of my will rubbed against it. This ‘shutting down’ would repeat itself when I was 20 in another situation where I lost my voice. Each time I talked, I would stutter. I would want to speak, to explain why I was the way I was, why the things said against me were lies, but the words would catch in the back of my throat and I’d choke, unable to breathe suddenly. This silence would last until I moved out of that situation and wrote a prose poem in order to ‘take my voice back’. However, prior to writing that piece, I would just choke up and cry if anyone asked me what happened during those two years.
My muting is a product of one of my deep traumas. It’s a result of not being able to speak for myself since a young age. I make up for it by being really vocal in other ways. I used to only write my thoughts out in poems, because it feels real for me, it feels like the only language I can express myself viscerally. Lately, when I released one of those poems about how I perceived attraction to be (that is, energetic, not physical; note this entire essay about how I’m unable to exist physically), I was told that I was invalidating other people’s experiences of needing to be physical, seen and labelled, that there was no place for my ‘flowery language’. I perceived this to be a threat on my individual attempt to put into words my own unique categorical-phobic mode of attraction. Even though the person’s words appeared neutral to my rational eye, I could feel their energy like an arrow, filled with ill-intent. I panicked, I couldn’t breathe. I shut down. I ran.
All that made me wonder why. Why is it that, years after leaving home, I am still dealing with problems that I dealt with as a kid? Why can’t I be there for me? Why do I freeze in certain situations? Why do I react violently or disproportionately in situations where I feel my voice is threatened? Why is it even the feeling of a psychic attack is enough to send me into my freezing mode?
Part of it is also acknowledging this is a deep, protective mechanism I used to have once that no longer serves me. Being mute and invisible protected me once, but now I am safe. I can speak now, I have loved ones and a partner who deeply supports me. I can safely open myself up little bit by bit. I’m still like an uneasy hermit crawling out of my sea of silence, though. Any movement on the shore sends me scattering back to the safety of my shell.
I have been working on unfreezing myself. J noticed that this scar was an old one now. But the ghost of it is still lingering with me. There are times when I am silenced, but I now notice when I freeze. I notice situations where I feel my voice is taken away from me. Even if I am unable to confront the person/ situation, I am able to go to someone I trust and tell them what is happening, so I can figure out the why and the how to fix it. I’ve also been trying to speak out more. To put my voice out there in the world. This blog has also been an attempt for me to echo my thoughts out from the closet of my mind into the boundless ethers of the interweb. I can’t tell you how many times I have been scared to put myself out there. If things get too personal, the threat of being shut down again is quite real. The feeling of being silenced again rips open old scars, but I’ve dealt with that before in the earlier incarnations of this blog and I will deal with it again in the future, if need be.
J mentioned one thing that made me swirl with warmth. She mentioned that my heart felt “gushy and royal with gold and red and embroidery”, quite elaborate but also quite exposed to the world. In a way, muting and invisibility has been a way for me to not feel so much, because emotional numbness is also the flip side of staying silent and quiet. I have been numb for the two years I was malnourished, however, and I have no interest in returning to that place. I want to be open, yet I also want to possess the ability to feel the intensity of life, yet also have the weapons to fend off vampiric energies. This comes mostly also from boundary assertion, speaking up, and practicing being visible again.
I am present, I am a body in this world. I have a voice. I will speak. Even if my experience is not able to be conflated with anyone else’s, it is still my own. Even if someone tells me that I have no right to speak about the things I do, I have to point out, I am speaking about my experience. I admit that I have immense difficulty still in being a physical being and not merely a ghost floating above my body. This is my reality and part of who I am. Now, however, my feet are planted strongly upon the ground. With the roots of my feet firmly tethered to the foundation of my strength, I can safely feel the energies about me and speak about what I see. And that’s a step towards being out there in the world.