Monday, November 22, 2010

M is Back, and I'm Not Invisible. Just So You Know.

(photo courtesy: Thomas Wilson)

Michael got home Saturday afternoon from the Men's Retreat. He had an amazing time. I don't know much of what went on there because apparently Men's Retreats are something like Vegas in that what happens there, stays there.

I do know this much. He bonded with some guys. He was part of a group of men that filled the air with many voices singing hymns. Some guys stepped up and helped him out, just like he said they would. And he came home mightily encouraged. I can see the leadership in his eyes. He wants to be the big strong hero of this little family that is me and him. And I love that. I'm so thankful he had the opportunity to get away, to do some manly bonding, and that he was so ready to come home to me.

And, even though I did enjoy some "me" time, and I did enjoy falling asleep on his side of the bed, and waking up on my side, thus meaning I made my way around our whole king sized bed by myself, I was ready for him to come home, too.

And this weekend, I was particularly thankful he was spiritually encouraged and has that heart of leadership. Because I need him to lead me. There are so many ways I am still such a baby, especially spiritually and emotionally, and that strong, solid, honest leading is a beautiful, necessary thing in our marriage.

(photo courtesy: Thomas Wilson)

So, yeah... little did he know when he got home this weekend, back from his spiritually high, motivating retreat... he'd have a mess of a wife on his hands. Here comes some more pure, not-from-concentrate realness from me.

Sometimes, I feel invisible. Especially at church. Which logically sounds like the most ridiculous thing on earth, right? We are surrounded by people who love us, inspire us, pray for us, who are WITH us in every imaginable way.

But, I feel like I just fade into the background. I'm there to open the door for Michael, carry our coffee, get the bulletin and the communion elements, get us situated at our seats. Our seats that I feel like are a stage. They're right THERE in the middle of the theater (we go to church in a movie theater). We sit by ourselves, not by choice, but because that's where the place is where someone who is in a wheelchair can sit, with someone else. One other person. That's me. I feel like everyone sees Michael coming, like it's a grand entrance, and I'm just there. Behind him. People greet him, pound him, hug him, and say hi to me second, if at all. I've been noticing this for months, but thought maybe it's all in my head.

Then, this weekend, when M was at the Men's Retreat, I went to a ladies event at our church. The first thing I was asked when I walked in the door was if he got a ride. Then I saw four people I haven't seen in a couple of months, and the first thing all FOUR of them asked about was... him. One woman even said to me, "Oh, yeah, your husband is in a wheelchair," when she was realizing who I was. M wasn't even there and it was still all about him. And I know no one means to do this, they don't realize they're doing it. And I'm not mad at anyone. It just sucks.

I was pissed! And hurt. And Sunday morning, it wasn't any better. By Sunday afternoon when we got home, I was a crying mess. Until my man uttered a few choice words that I will not repeat here that pretty much amount to "screw that."

And, he's right. I will jump up and down to make people see me if I have to. I have a lot to offer. And besides being his wife, which is an awesome role and honor and all of that, I am also worth acknowledging and talking to, myself. So there. I'm not crying about being invisible anymore.

Plus... Sunday night, I attempted to dye my hair brown and it turned out red, which actually, looks awesome. So... unless people really are blind to me, they'll notice that! Not that that's why I dyed my hair, it totally isn't but hey - it can't hurt in the attention department. And, since we're being all honest and what not - let me just tell you... little Cindy loves her some attention!


Anonymous said...

Dana, I see you ... and the view is great! Can't wait to see how God's plan for you continues to unfold. Great things are in store! God's best for you and Michael.
-john j

Kristen Maddux said...

I so get this. Not from personal experience, but it just absolutely makes sense. That everyone hopes so much they don't "look over" Mike that the "looking over" happens to you. It's so great, tho, that you acknowledge this kind of stuff and talk it out.
And I love, love the hair! Isn't it great when you KNOW it looks so good you don't even need other people to tell you? Yea, you're a rockstar...even if you are behind a wheelchair sometimes. ;)

Jamie said...

First of all, your hair looks AMAZING! LOVE IT!! Second, I tried reading this from the "able-bodied" one's perspective and wondered if Will sometimes feels this way. Last, just so you know, I would much rather people NOT know me for my wheels, but God is so amazing to give me (and Michael) an instant platform to talk to people about Jesus. That is the way I look at it and that is what usually gets me excited about actually being in a wheelchair. God uses us in great ways and He is using YOU! Do you know how many wives look up to you? You ARE a rockstar wife! More so than any other I know, plus you have THE coolest job ever! :)

Anonymous said...

UM, EW EW EW! I'm going to send you a private message REBUKING ALL OF THIS!!!!! :-P

Dana Brown Ritter said...

Awww, thank you my dear friends! I know this is a bit dramatic, but I am finding airing my feelings out here on the blog is quite helpful. So, thank you for reading and for caring so much about us! We are so blessed to have such awesome friends.

Heather said...

My mom always felt invisible at church with my dad. She didn't even like attention, but it hurt her when people at church would totally ignore her and speak only to my dad. People wouldn't remember her from one Sunday to the next - and they went to that church and even taught Sunday School there for years.
I'm sorry this is happening to you.

Courtney said...

I feel you! And it frustrates Brian as much, if not more, than it frustrates me. I recently spent a week in the British Virgin Islands (my lucky best friend lives there!). I was supposed to go visit her the week after his accident in April so this was the reschedule. When people ask me how my trip was before I can even say "good" they are asking how Brian did while I was gone. I understand it, and I appreciate it but sometimes I want to say "I STILL EXIST!" Your invisible is my existing. :)
Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Courtney said...

Oh and... I love the hair! :)

S. J. Wells said...

Dana, you aren't the only one who feels invisible. I am the blind one in the family, and my husband is sighted, and I feel that he gets more attention, sometimes. Maybe he feels I do, too. Recently, my husband was asked to play a part in our churches upcoming Christmas play. I felt left out. Does everyone think i can't play a part? Why do I always get stuck at home with the girls while the hubby gets to go have a great time practicing is part? Of course, these feelings might be what all moms go through, having nothing to do with the disability, but the feelings are real nevertheless. People can be so insensative, though, and they don't even mean to. I think it's brave of you to air your feelings out there for all to see, and i love reading your blog. I don't get to it until Saturdays, though. I'm sure your hair is great, and it's probably a good thing I can't see the pictures of your food, 'cause I don't need any encouragement in that department. lol I'll remember y'all in prayer, though.