It’s a dramatic question, I know. Of course you see me, physically speaking. I’m a person who exists in your life, if only on the periphery, and I’m not going to magically disappear because you don’t take the time to notice who I am. But I have this feeling that you have a sort of selective vision, that you’re happy to come in and out of things with me because to invest any further would mean committing yourself to something — and we certainly can’t have that. When you speak to me for a few precious days, acknowledging my existence, I can almost convince myself that you really do see me, that you know I’m here. But then you retreat back into your comfortable silence, your precious distance, and I am reminded that you don’t.
You are simply able to forget about me, to render me invisible, a dot on the horizon that you can take a pleasant stroll to visit when it is convenient. I am not in your inner circle, nowhere near enough to cause you actual harm. It’s easier to keep me out here because it will never imply your real involvement, you will never sign a contract whose terms we both know you’re not willing to fulfill. So I sit here, yelling at the top of my lungs to get you to turn around, waving flares against the night sky and shouting your name. You might turn around, but you’ll never really look at me.
With you, it often feels like those dreams where you want to say something — want to scream, want to get a point across, want to be heard — and your open mouth refuses to make a sound. There is some incredibly small, seemingly simple task you want to accomplish and you just can’t do it for whatever reason. There is an invisible barrier there, something keeping you from attaining your goals and making yourself understood. And you try and try, failing over and over again, waking up just before you can achieve it. I am running towards you, and you never get closer. You always remain at the same frame of distance, always with your back to me, always just out of reach.
I know that it’s not easy to look someone in the eye and tell them how you feel (or reject them, even, if that’s what needs to be done) but it is the kind thing to do. It is the honest, human thing to do. Because letting someone linger in a purgatory where they are never quite seen or heard — where they are constantly left questioning whether a perceived subtext was all in their heads or based in reality — is cruel and unusual punishment. I want to know that you see me, that you know what I look like and feel like and taste like, even if you don’t like it. I want to know that you’ve remembered our interactions, that they hold a significance in your mind, even if it’s not the kind of significance I want them to have. Because I have gone hoarse screaming into the wind in your general direction, giving you every opportunity to take the torch and run across the finish line. And maybe you won’t, but you could at least tell me so.
It’s easy to forget me. It’s easy to pretend that I’m not here when you don’t want to see me. And I can see how it must be tempting, how it must stroke your ego and remind you that you have power over people whose existence you barely consider. But someday this may happen to you. Someday someone might look right through you and all you want to mean to them. And I hope that, when it happens, you remember that you did it, too. Because maybe then you’ll understand that it’s better to be completely naked and totally understood than covered up and easily ignored.