Pongo Project Journal

Sharing stories of our work with teens
Nov 19
Feeling Invisible

Richard’s blog: In my first post I wrote that we begin life as the objects of other people’s stories -- stories from our families and our society about who we are and what we will become. We’re fortunate if that story is an insightful novel, where we are a unique and developing personality. Unfortunately, the story we’re handed might be a horror story, a tragedy, or a play with no exit. Sometimes, I learn that a Pongo author believes he is a monster (“The Battle Between Good and Evil”). Sometimes, I learn that a Pongo author believes she is a failure for not saving her family from an impossible dysfunctional state (“Looking for Love”). Sometimes, I learn that a Pongo author is supposed to be a reflection of a parent who is mired in a painful life (“Just Another Girl”).

And what can we do as children to understand and contradict these stories? We are quite helpless. Our strength comes from finding someone who loves us as the person we are.

Without that love, what do we see in the mirror? Who is that person there? The feelings that define us, the richness that is part of our nature, they lose all validity. We are alienated from ourselves. And society’s own image of our race, age, economic status, and gender may also limit and degrade that image of ourselves.

And then the factors of invisibility can become more complicated and convoluted still. Trauma is a frequent event in certain lives – There are children who watch violence at home when Mom is beaten, who suddenly lose a loving grandparent, who see murder in gangs. Trauma can cause a person to separate herself from certain memories and feelings, can build emotional and experiential walls, can cause a person to become a true stranger to herself.

How do we clear the fog from that mirror, how do we learn to see and accept our human selves and our possibilities? One of the ways is to find and believe in a better love. Another way is to understand our true feelings. A third way is to find a voice that creates a clear story, the honest story, of our life and our hurt.