I've noticed something recently.
Looks from people.
Smiles from men. As I pass by random strangers on the street there is a nod or a look of acknowledgement. At the very least there is a focusing of their retina's and I know that they know I'm here. They can see me.
I seem to have finally come out of the shadows of invisibility.
Even during the time people refused to see me I was still here, still the same person. The lack of acknowledgement was painful. I became used to people avoiding eye contact and forgetting about me as soon as they were able to turn in another direction. There have been a lot of doors shut in front of me. A lot of getting ignored in stores. A lot of painful silence.
The most painful moment I have, though, is not of silence. Just before I was diagnosed I was out with friends and had several yummy guys vying for my attention. They were 24 and I was 33 so I didn't pay much attention although I did go out for pizza with one of them. Why not? He was really hot.
Flash forward to six months later and I looked like this. I was travelling to Vancouver on a regular basis for my treatments and was very ill. I had a black eye, patchy hair and a huge face. As I hobbled through the ferry to go to the bathroom two young adult men walked by and as soon as they were directly behind me, still in earshot, they said, "What was that? Dude, that was messed", and burst out laughing.
My heart broke into tiny pieces. I turned and watched them as they continued walking down the ship hallway, laughing. I felt ashamed and angry. I felt like a monster and ached to look like myself again. I learned vanity in an instant. I had been keeping my chin up about my disfigured body, refusing to feel less than who I was but that moment was devastating. The pride I held in, Me, was crushed. My entire being was categorized and dismissed because of how I looked. My body had failed me.
All I could think at that moment was how they would have been trying to get in my pants, 6 months earlier. Now I was a joke. I have never been vain but suddenly I looked back to what I used to look like and realized...I was beautiful. I will never take my looks for granted again.
So, very recently I must have changed. It's remarkable to be walking among the living again. To see their side glances and their smiles. They check me out when I'm in my car driving by. I'm actually startled when men of all ages flash me a flirty smile. I feel a little cold inside. I feel like a shroud has suddenly been pulled off of me and part of me feels a little bitter knowing that just a few weeks ago these same people would have stepped over me if I was laying in the street. They would have ignored me as I struggled through doors, bumped into me without a thought...
So, I seem to have morphed into another stage. I'm no longer an outsider but an equal participant.
I seem to be fit for human consumption again.