A Mere Cutout of Oneself
I see the cardboard cutout of a girl on my run this morning. Her name is Sophia. These decorated cutouts, around San Antonio, are part of a campaign to create awareness of children who often go unnoticed to abuse.
I remember long ago a cutout of a boy who sat next to me in a coffee shop. He sat in the open, avoided of attention.
Today’s writing is for someone who, even though an adult, remains unseen.
HE sees you.
You are not alone, no matter how alone you may feel.
From April 9, 2014
He was a mere cutout of himself. His name: Joshua. He sat there, nice and still, virtually blended in with the environment.
Or, so he thought.
I watched him from a distance. The delicate balance of catching a glance here and there, yet, not wanting to stare. I was intrigued by this little guy. There was something about him that was special.
To others, he appeared appeared invisible.
When I first sat down, my blond-haired friend sat alongside a studious-looking man. I thought maybe they were together even though there was no communication whatsoever. Before long though, the man gathered his things and left without even looking back. So, I concluded they were strangers.
Another person made her way to the open spot beside him. She wouldn’t even make eye contact. What is it with people nowadays? Granted she had a book in hand, but still, a nod of the head would have been nice. Acknowledge his presence. Kind gestures go a long way in this big, bad world.
This made me sad. This little lost one, sitting all alone.
Like the man before, she got up and left.
Then, the unthinkable happened. Another man made his way to the open seat, but for whatever reason, didn’t want any part of Joshua, so he just pushed him aside. At this, I became indignant.
How dare you! It is one thing to ignore this young boy, but it is quite another to push him away. That was enough. He crossed the line.
But, not one to cause a stir, I waited until he left. Once he did, I decided to introduce myself.
I was met with silence. Only a smile. No wonder really, with the way others avoided him, he probably thought my greeting was more of a joke.
So, he decided to sit passively in the backdrop of the coffee shop. Merely a guest; not an active contributing member of this thing called life. Now one could argue he was not human so he was not capable of such a contribution. But, what if he was human, and over time, after being bulldozed by the bullies in life, he lost his voice?
He has an incredible smile after all. Almost lifelike.
But, dare I tell you this is a front for how he really feels? He is not meant to be a loner. There is more than meets the eye under this blue exterior, I can feel it.
Tests show him to be an extrovert.
But, he comes off as an introvert.
Why the silence little cardboard one?
What? You say it is easier to isolate as an introvert?
Introspection is expected of introspective individuals.
But, you are using introspection as a front for isolation? Wow. He is one clever individual.
Isolated. To close off others. To find a corner to hide away in.
I can so relate. This may be the case with me.
Nobody put Josie in a corner. No, she went there willingly.
I’ve framed myself in. Or, maybe I’ve erected walls to keep others out. By simply going inward into myself.
I feel safe there. Alone with my thoughts.
I think this is why I am fascinated with personality tests. Am I an introvert, or an unhealthy extrovert? I have taken the same tests multiple times attempting to discover if this is a character trait, or, perhaps a character flaw.
Nature versus nurture in its unhealthiest form.
Is it an invisible line of self defense that I crossed over to remain hidden?
Hidden from what? From who…or is it from whom?
I became a wallflower. On the sidelines instead of a participant. Ironic because most will disagree completely. I’m out in the open. I am a writer and a speaker after all. But, at these times I have the mic. I am in control of my surroundings.
Yet, there is a barrier I’ve built up to protect myself from being known.
And it causes me to live two-dimensional.
If only I could allow myself to believe I am really an introvert, life would be just fine. But no, that extrovert refuses to stay put in the corner.
A phrase suddenly overwhelms me as I write, “You are only getting to the surface of things.”
Surface? Really? How much deeper do I need to go? I am bleeding all over my keyboard. Tears are flowing out of control.
Okay, that is a lie. No blood. No tears.
Cutouts don’t cry. They are incapable. They merely are stoic with their feelings.
Maybe not the sentimental ones. I have no problem tearing up over dog videos and the National Anthem. My kids write me a letter, and I am full of gush and mush.
But, the big deals: dry eyes.
Then, it hits me like a ton of bricks…This cutout is me.
How do I penetrate this invisible wall that is holding me back? Do I even want to? I have learned how to maneuver as a cutout of myself for a long time. Attempting to unlock doors of understanding inside myself is scary.
I remember walking in the front door after being violated by a man years ago.
No one asked me how I was, even though they knew something horrible had happened. Not a word was spoken. No. Not one.
As a result of this, and some similar ones throughout the early years, I began to put on my happy face. And by doing this, I lost myself. I tucked the hurt down deep figuring it was not okay to let it out.
Well, no more.
That was wrong. It was wrong for that man to do what he did to me, and it was equally wrong to be treated with silence after such a tragedy.
Maybe they did not know how to respond, and decided it better to avoid the difficulty altogether than dealing with it.
Even so, this made me feel, well, it made me feel unsafe.
I realize now I have not dealt with this. I have only learned to deal with this on the surface.
But, my heart is crying out from deep within to be released from her self-induced prison sentence.