I can see it so clearly, the villain monk’s final moments, even though I’ve not watched the movie in years.
His last words echo his brutal father’s rages. “You are a ghost,” the father cursed the young albino who had not yet done anything cruel. Silas’s terrible crimes throughout the story are fuzzy to me, but those words, in Spanish, a language I’ve never liked, I can hear clearly. The phrase was meant as an insult earlier, but in the end a relief, a realization he is dying and no longer shackled to the pain of life.
The phrase is important to me, but in a different way. In my late teenage years, my social anxiety reached critical mass, and I spent many months unable to leave my house. I tried to make light of it, called myself the town’s Boo Radley, but I was haunting that house, the old building once called Holly House before numbers were used, as tormented a soul as any of the ghosts I sensed or tried to talk to via Ouija Board. And like a ghost, I felt invisible. I often still do. Why? Because my family, the ones I still live with, seem to ignore me when I most need help.
It’s strange, and confusing. I know these people love me and want to help me, so maybe I’m the one doing something wrong. I don’t know. I just know that so many times they’ve seen me having a panic attack or crying, they walk by me without stopping, or keep watching TV even if I’m only feet away. Sometimes my mother will notice, and send my dad to check on me. I don’t know which makes me feel worse – that my mother won’t come herself, or that my dad needs to be told to ask me why I’m falling apart. The few times I’ve talked to my dad about this, he just says he assumed I wanted to be left alone. I told him, “When you assume about me, you ALWAYS end up wrong. Do the opposite of what you think I want.”
Still, in my most angsty moments, I think to myself that if I were lying on the floor in a pool of blood, my dad would step over me to get coffee, then maybe half an hour later think to ask if I need help with anything. That’s extreme, I know. But this is a guy who has, on multiple occasions, watched me hobble around in obvious pain making and setting out dinner, and only after I’m finished obliviously asks, “You need any help?”
I don’t like to remember this, but once my dad and I were basically in one large room, he in the living room, I in the connected dining room, us maybe 20 feet apart. I tried to swallow a pill, and it got stuck. I started to choke, like, real choking, couldn’t dislodge it, mouth was foaming, I seriously thought I was going to die. I was so scared I didn’t remember how to signal choking, but it didn’t matter. Without looking at me, my dad asked, “You okay?” I didn’t answer, because I couldn’t. When I didn’t respond, he kept watching TV. I managed to cough out the pill, but I felt I had come very close to death, and my father hadn’t cared enough to even look at me. I couldn’t look at him for days.
My mother goes back and forth. When she’s angry and in pain, she’s been very cruel to me. Our relationship is better now, but I think when I’m upset she feels guilty, and she doesn’t like to feel guilty, so she either ignores me or sends my dad to deal with me. If she’s in a good mood, she does her best to find out why I’m sad and help me. I appreciate that, but I don’t like telling her my problems, because she usually responds by telling me her problems, which of course are much worse, and when people tell me about problems I can’t help with, I feel like a landfill someone is dumping garbage on. Given the choice of confessing my anxieties to either Mom or Dad, though, I choose my mom, because she at least sometimes tries to do something to alleviate that stress. My dad just kind of shrugs and says, “I’m sorry.”
It’s confusing. I know they love me. They must want to help me. They always seemed surprised when I was younger and actually convinced I had become literally invisible, when I asked in surprise if they could see me. I know they probably just don’t know how to help. But do you know what would be better than nothing? Anything.