Seeing the Unseen; or, the Package Hidden Under the Welcome Mat

This week Amazon delivered a rather substantial package to my apartment and, because the delivery man thought I was not home, the package was placed under my welcome mat. Can we consider for a second how ludicrous this actually seems? I’m not particularly good at measurements, so I’m sure I can’t accurately convey to you how big this box is but I will tell you, it contained 160 gel pens, complete with portable carrying case (this, in and of itself likely indicates that I have a problem). The box was big…thus, placing it under my welcome mat did nothing to conceal it from my neighbors… which I assume was the point, right? Otherwise, why not just leave it on top of the welcome mat, so that it could welcome me home instead? I mean, who doesn’t like to come home to new stuff? Surely it isn’t just me that sometimes fills that void in my soul with frivolous purchases.

Right, so, what is my point? This incident got me thinking about how we often work so hard to keep things hidden from people but, most of the time, when we are actually trying to keep things hidden… we are kind of lousy at it, just like the delivery man and my Amazon box. He was not fooling anyone. Should someone have felt so inclined, they could have easily acquired some bitchin’ new gel pens.  On the other hand, it seems like people are least likely to notice something is wrong when it’s been left in plain sight.

Recently, a coworker told me that she has noticed such a difference in me from last year and even from the beginning of this year. She said, “it’s like you’re a whole new person.” I don’t see it and, in fact, I feel like I am a ticking time bomb. I feel like I am falling apart right in front of people’s eyes and no one is seeing it, not even my therapist. She remarks upon growth and she holds onto the positive things, like when I reach out for help instead of insisting on doing things alone. Or, like when I actually assert a boundary or tell her that she has done something that has hurt me. And, yes, I do see how those can be good things. But, at the same time, I’m still self-harming. I’m still having some issues with disordered eating (which no one knows about, so welcome aboard the secret train). I still take a ton of time off work because I literally cannot make myself stop being a depressed lump. And, I just marvel at how this stuff isn’t super obvious.

I have missed 7.5 days of work since August. We are only allowed 10 paid days off for the year. I have to take 1 more this Friday for my grandfather’s funeral. In one semester I have used almost all of my days. I am also like 1/3 the person I was last year. We went on Summer break in June, I was 60 pounds heavier. And I keep losing weight because I literally consume less than 500 calories a day, every day. But, society equates being skinny with being in good health, so because I was overweight before, that means that now I must be healthy. And, apparently, that indicates positive changes in the rest of my life. Not the case. About a month ago, after having made some fairly deep cuts, I bled through my clothing while at work. No one noticed. Of course, in that particular instance, I didn’t want anyone to notice… but it goes along with the point that I am making. Totally visible, no way I could have hid it even if I tried. Yet, there was absolutely no need to keep it hidden. There is a whole heap of other secrets I’m keeping that just don’t seem to matter, because literally everyone is convinced that I am totally fine and healthy and growing.

To be fair, yes, I am almost done with my second Masters degree and I have a 4.0 GPA. And, yes, I just got hired to teach a class at a local college. And, yes, I have a new car. And, yes, I’m successfully living on my own. And, yes, I am reaching out and making an effort to socialize. And, yes, I’ve started going back to yoga. These are all good things. I will admit to that. I will own it but they don’t mean that I’m  not falling apart. They just mean that I’m doing the same damn thing I always do. I’m putting on a good show. I’m going through the motions until I literally collapse from exhaustion. Until my soul becomes too tired to even continue existing. Because, seriously, that is coming. It’s going to be a rude awakening for everyone who thinks I’m just doing so well. Just because they don’t want to see the package hidden under the welcome mat.

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