I was talking to a friend of mine who lurks around there and ran into me at the store yesterday and checked up on me. In response to my self-deprecating apology, he said some things that made me think awful hard when we parted ways. I looked like heck. On top of the hangover (which was still somewhat going on) I
have been fighting low blood sugars since then (today is doing much better). He didn't notice, and from what he said he never had.
It struck me it wasn't just that people don't notice stuff. I mean, they don't. I've been weeping openly in front of people and they didn't see it. Back in 2003 and 2004 I was such a mess I did a sort of boundary study about what seems to indicate to people "crying" and what you can get away with right in front of them that they won't notice. I should dig that up - it might make an interesting popular science piece. I have a story about losing a 2" in diameter button off the front of my blouse right where he -- along with many other men -- rested his eyes as a matter of course right in the middle of a job interview. I got the job, and a couple years later I brought it up jokingly and he honestly didn't notice. The man is an architect noted for his eye for details.
This person I had been talking to yesterday, who I have worked with off and on for more than 10 years and have been friends as well for that long has probably never physically seen me when I wasn't a mess to one degree or another. He knew me during my divorce, the mess with my ex afterward, dealing with my younger son's problems and raising my kids on my own.
I realize he's not alone. Those of you I've met at PAX have only seen me when I haven't slept for three days, stressed to the max, out of my element on every level, and in the second-most unflattering garment I own. The PAXEast Enforcer shirt is incredibly comfortable and easy to work with. It does it's job of being noticeable very well, but that color under those lights does not flatter me at all. (In case you're wondering, the first is a bright yellow sweatshirt with sunflowers all over it my monster-in-law bought me for
Christmas in like 1989 or something. I won't even wear that one to the mailbox.) Particularly by the time we get to evening boardgames; I'll be under-caffeinated, overwhelmed, under-the-weather, and over this whole thing.
I've been like this for years and I never frelling noticed. Well, I mean I did. But I never really thought about what it means for my life, and my relationships with others.
It's been a awful yet somehow liberating realization. It's going to take more thinking to figure out what I want to do about it.