“I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.”
-Ralph Ellison, “Invisible Man”
I’m 5 foot 8. Half of my head is shaved. I wear bold makeup and jewelry. I’m hard to miss. And yet somehow, I have managed to (quite literally) stumble upon the secret to attaining one of the superpowers I’d mentioned in another article I'd written late last year: invisibility.
There’s this dress in the back of my closet.
And boy, I used to rock that thing. It was perfect for any occasion. It hugged every curve, it made heads turn, and it made me feel so confident and strong...
Allow me to introduce you to Devin Stratton, a 25-year-old Utah man who captured himself on video accidentally falling off a 150-foot cliff while skiing.
Horrifying, right? He surely didn't survive and, if he did, he's probably paralyzed or hooked up to countless machines keeping him alive... right?...
I tried not to make eye contact with her in the elevator while I pushed the button for the floor directly above us. I knew that it was bound to happen sooner or later, and I hoped that by not looking at her, she wouldn’t engage. But it did happen. It only happened just that once, but it was enough to make me feel about an inch tall.
“You’re so lazy!” she exclaimed. It was meant as a joke, but she wasn’t exactly known around the office for being timid or tactful. Joke or not, I immediately went on the defensive. She didn’t know I didn’t sleep well the night before. She didn’t know I could’ve (and would’ve) climbed the stairs, just one floor up, but I chose to conserve my waning energy instead...
Clare was gardening in her backyard when she saw it: a giant, vivid rainbow spanning across the sky. Clare’s eyes widened. She’d been waiting her whole life for this. Her friends had found gold at the end of a rainbow and all of their dreams had come true.
And now, it was Clare’s turn...
One of my favorite books when I was a kid was a Choose Your Own Adventure book, in which I chased Carmen Sandiego all over the globe. Paragraph by paragraph, I decided what my next move would be in order to find her. It was fun and, without me knowing it at the time, it taught me how to make educated choices and that, based on those choices, there would be some sort of consequence, no matter the outcome.
Having a disease like MS is a lot like a Choose Your Own Adventure book. My entire day is filled with important decisions to make that will carry a great impact, even lasting into the next few days. For example, have you ever spent 20-30 minutes deciding what outfit to wear? No, not because you want to keep up with your trendy coworker, avoid wearing the same dress as someone else at a party, or because you think your butt looks big in those pants...
Do you remember what it felt like to stand atop a skyscraper, strap on your cape, and soar through the clouds? You were invincible. Do you remember?
My little brother and I would race through the house in our Superman pajamas, weaving around furniture and stretching our arms out for optimum speed. We’d lift obstacles with our super strength and untie damsels from railroad tracks and rescue kittens from trees. We’d fight villains with lasers that shot out of our fingertips and overwhelm them with our sweet karate moves.
One of the best parts of writing for the MS Connection blog is reading the comments that readers leave.
Yes, you read that right. Sites like this are some of the few places, it appears, on the internet where the “don’t read the comments” rule doesn’t seem to apply. I read every single comment that is left on here, on my personal blog, and on my social media posts. And I delight in receiving emails and private messages. They’re equal parts heartbreaking and encouraging...
Quietly, a phantom thief, you forced yourself into my life, slowly but violently inserting your existence into mine. Uninvited, you rooted yourself into my very core and silently grew inside of me, victimizing my vulnerability and tattooing your intention on every piece of me. You suck nearly every ounce of energy out of me, while I desperately and frantically try to forge, steal, manifest any remaining vigor I can manage to grasp and tear out of your hands.
If I’d never met you, people wouldn’t tilt their heads to one side, eyes full of pity, and offer their condolences when they learn I’m sharing my life with you. I wouldn’t have to suppress memories of what I perceive my abilities once were, because they’re too painful now...
I’ll never forget him in his ill-fitting trench coat and his cartoonish large head towering over us, just a bunch of wide-eyed, snot-covered children at Tonawanda Elementary School. His name was Officer McGruff, the Crime Dog. He pointed his furry finger at us while an accompanying, un-costumed police officer warned us against the dangers of drugs.
I looked up to McGruff. We had a bond. We understood each other. I knew this because a year or two earlier, I had won a safety poster drawing contest and was awarded with my very own plush McGruff doll. It may as well have been an official sheriff’s badge and a key to the city. I was now a safety expert. I took everything he stood for to heart. I mean, he had a trench coat and everything!