Invisible vis-a-vis visible

Lately I’m angry. This is a sombre post, but it’s also reality for more women than just me.

Maybe other women my age will relate.

In a kind of mid life crisis I committed to doing feminist comedy nearly three years ago and as a producer two years ago.

I’ve done a few different productions (on top of full time work).

Variety, skits, musical, improv, comedy storytelling as well as traditional stand up.

I think I hoped I would feel visible. I thought I had something useful to say.

Wil Anderson sent me an encourager video once. That’ll be my little (and likely only) bit of fame forever.

I feel invisible. I also don’t think what I’ve got to say is all that important anymore.

My life as a performer, as a person really, began at 42 (hitchhikers irony much?).

When I parted ways with negative influences.

Now I feel like I left it all too late.

Now, nearing 49, I feel invisible compared to younger performers and producers.

Maybe it’s menopausal.

Maybe it’s true.

I wasted most of my life on an abusive partner and on toxic family. On not living my truth, on pleasing others.

I’ve only just started to live, but I’m no longer marketable.

Or maybe I’m just tired.

Until a few weeks ago, my day job (my profession is anthropology) and comedy was literally keeping me running on empty.

I was working myself to exhaustion because I no longer cared about myself.

A low level sexual assault in February last year (not my first, but one of many) broke me over a period of a few months. I’ve carried it heavily. I no longer believe I’ll ever find love again – I’m not capable, I have no trust left and nothing to give.

Then Pepper came into my life a few weeks ago.

I manage two chronic illnesses, autism and pain from metal from old injuries in my legs.

Pepper is my learner service dog.

Everything’s changed since she arrived.

She is the best thing to happen to me in a few years. But also, it has brought up pain. Pain of loss.

I think she’s gonna help me with that though.

I’m part of a generation of women that gave it all and lost it all. Fought for women in trades in the military (was one of the first few). Fought against domestic violence (against myself and others). Challenged old norms, embraced non-CIS identity, challenged structural racism and sexism when most people poo hoo-ed that it existed. First in family to graduate with uni education. First to travel in my immediate family to far flung places.

Some days it feels like it was for nothing as my disabilities keep me unable to get ahead (regular burnout) and I have no family left to speak of.

Social justice didn’t work out for me and I’m angry. But I am proud of what I’ve been able to do for others though.

And if I get too sick again, I’ve got nowhere to go. Friends would offer probably, but I’d feel like a burden.

Pepper has slowed me down long enough to face some demons in a positive way.

But it doesn’t feel fair. Bitter sweet by definition.

Cause life isn’t terrible, it’s just lacking meaning other than just contributing. I’m just performing on every level.

I am the female Autistic mask.

Pepper and I have six to ten years together (we are both middle aged) and I made a pact with her. A retired racing breeder greyhound, her life has been pretty tough too.

I just have to get to the end of her life and keep contributing.

When she goes, so will I.

That’s how invisible I feel. That’s the reality for a survivor of family violence with disability and no superannuation (had to use it to get through at one stage).

Once my use by date is reached, there’s no such thing as retirement.

I’ve met other women in my age group facing the same.

Good to know I’m not alone, that my fiscal failure is shared. So many women survivors over 40, many of them living on the streets.

Good to know that I’m gonna be of service to the world for a while longer and at least give Pepper a good life (and her keep me feeling a bit loved).

Pay a bit more tax, then exit when I want to, on my terms.

Stay invisible by being visible. Just keep on doing my best for another ten years at most.

That sounds like a plan. That’ll do.

By the way, I don’t regret anything, the road to change is littered with people like me.

So, in the meantime, when we can, Pepper and I are going to stare at the sea as often as we can.

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