I became a mother at the age of 16 and moved out on my own before my 19th birthday. I was grateful for my parents’ support while I lived at home with my son. My mother took care of her first grandson as if he were her own; I never had to worry about him. Now that I was on my own, being invisible was not sufficient enough to carry me through; I needed to take control. I needed to be in control; control of everything and everyone around me. This was my way of being and feeling safe. Now that I look back with some wisdom, I realize that I was not in control at all. What I thought was control, was really manipulation. I was taking action and making choices out of fear. I was very smart and resourceful, so I could always figure things out; even if that meant manipulating my way through situations. I did whatever it took to get my own way. I wasn’t just good at it, I was one of the best.
I saw firsthand how my grandfather manipulated everyone through his issues of control. But I could not see how he was doing it to me. He would call our home and pretend that he wanted something and my siblings and I would take turns saying hello. When he talked with me, he would ask me to come by his place instead of playing with my friends. He would also ask my brother to come over to help him with something and bring me (sometimes my sister too) with him. My grandfather used money to lure me and it worked; I always had money because of him. He would tell me to save some of it but to spend most of it. He said if I saved too much of it, my parents would want to know where I got it from, then I would have to tell the secret that he gave me money because he loved me more and I was his favorite. Well, that’s what I thought at the time. I learned how to lie and manipulate from my grandfather.
I was never invisible to my grandfather, he always gave me attention. So when that attention ceased to be, no one ever made me feel wanted again. No one ever “saw” me or “looked” at me the same. I was not special anymore, I was invisible. My family was frozen with shame. I felt like they stopped seeing me too. My family meant the world to me and if they couldn’t see me, then no one else would either.
What I was not prepared for was the discovery that in becoming invisible to others, I became invisible to my own self. I could not see myself anymore; I could not find myself anywhere; I was lost. I lost myself. In 2002 I walked away from my job for the sole purpose to find myself; 11 years later, I think I found her hiding in a closet. Writing my story, is me coming out.