The Invisible Woman

Linda Sharp
12 min readOct 4, 2023

Yes, it’s me. I’m still here. To paraphrase Twain, the reports of my disappearance have been greatly exaggerated.

To those who have asked in private — thank you. It’s nice to realize people notice when you fall off the radar. To those who have dealt with me behind the scenes — THANK YOU — your presence and willingness to absorb the scattershot of emotional highs and lows is invaluable.

I miss it here. There is honestly not a day that has slid by without me looking at my keyboard and wishing I could make words come out of it. As I have said in the past, there is certainly enough public and political grist for the mill. But not even the shenanigans of Boebert jerking off her date or the ever present bullshit ramblings of the rapidly decomposing gourd with 91 charges against him have made typing irresistible.

But this morning I decided to start to try to give it a whirl; to try to put into words some of what has been pulling me away, down, under. I am hoping that I am right in that I cannot possibly be the only one that feels this way, has felt this way, has walked through the valley of the shadow of dearth.

Yes, dearth. Defined as a scarcity or lack of something. This particular stretch of dearth having to do with me, my sense of self. And becoming invisible.

When I was younger, oh hell, let’s just say YOUNG — because 40 seems like a lifetime and buckets of natural collagen ago — I scoffed at this idea of Invisible Women Syndrome, the idea that as we age we begin to fade into the paint, stop turning heads, cease being seen as vital, even necessary. That we take up oxygen, but are no more noticed and important than the old curtains becoming threadbare in the guestroom. They once served an important function, but guests are now few and gravity is all that visits.

I’m 57 now and my mind, my heart have spent the past couple years, especially this last one, realizing that the phenomenon of becoming invisible is not phenomenal at all. It is frustrating. It is heartbreaking. It takes everything you spent your life weaving in terms of ego, sense of self, purpose, place, and literal reflection — the very underpinnings of a human being — and snatches that carefully woven rug right out from underneath you. And the only thing that keeps you from breaking your ass is the fact that your ass is bigger than it use to be.

Once upon a time I could think about losing 5 pounds and it would all but vanish. Little effort, could be a week before whatever event, outing, vacation I deemed them not invited to attend. These days? I have to submit paperwork, an action plan, charts, graphs, a research paper, and references at least six months in advance. And even then, with every bite of food being monitored, every day having an allotment for meeting my trainer in The Mirror, alcohol being completely eschewed — there are no guarantees the number on the scale will budge.

Again, I am 57. The four stages of perimenopause have been in full swing for quite a while now.

I’ll pause here and say to the gents who may be reading, you may wish to tap out to protect your delicate sensibilities. However, if you have a woman in your life, especially in my age range, you may wish to gird your own sagging loins and educate yourself.

Menopause. Sigh. It really should be called Meanopause. Because it is. Every bit of its unpredictability, ups, downs, hormones in full swing, hormones heading to the depths of the Mariana Trench, emotions imploding worse than the Titanic submersible, weight redistributing itself, weight coming out of nowhere, and the creeping sensation that becomes real and palpable, that you are becoming invisible.

I’m 5'2" — I have never been, nor will I ever be a super model. But like so many women, I found myself, my carriage, my understanding of my face in the mirror, my body — all of it — somewhere in my early 30s. The stupidity of the 20s behind me, I had a handle on things.

Well, truth be told, physically, I did tap dance with disordered eating at several points along the way (note to young women — no one with three small children should weigh 93 pounds and think they are doing great), but I figured things out, embraced exercising as something that made my body strong, was my time during the day. I made peace with eating better, although at 5'2", I will never know a day when I don’t feel I have to watch myself. My potential is to grow sideways, not up. I was happy with how my clothes fit, pleased with my reflection, understood my facial contours, etc.

Fast forward to the number 50. The slow slide…

I was still being mindful, still trying to make time to exercise, stay physical. Yet efforts were not returning the same results. Like so many, I started chasing every new laugh line, crow’s foot, shadow I saw in the mirror. I welcomed an esthetician into my life who is more than a Glenda the Good Witch of needles, but now a trusted friend of many years.

As the next few years melted one into the next, I added reading material to my personal library about perimenopause (the time before it all grinds to a halt, gents). I started counting the days on the calendar between periods. And nervously laughed as I actually purchased pregnancy tests because I am happily still sexually active, but there was no rhyme or reason to the dates on the calendar. So when 50 days would pass without a spot or speck? Through my looking for reassurance online, I found this is completely normal and that I was not alone in watching the timer and suffering through the longest ten minute what ifs in recorded history. Seriously. Pregnant at 53? No thank you.

All those symptoms up there? They’re real. I have been lucky to not experience some, like brain fog, bladder, heart issues, but I could light a building on fire with hot flashes and put it out with night sweats. I have gone from HATING with the passion of a thousand suns the feeling of a ceiling fan buffeting me, to NEEDING it because I AM the equivalent of a thousand suns. My poor husband sleeps with a sweatshirt on hiding beneath the quilt because the AC is on so low while I lay there completely out of the covers, stewing in my own juices, repeating over and over in my head — “Please stop, please stop, please stop.

And then five minutes later I am freezing alongside him. So sexy, I know.

The past couple years have been a heinous scribble of emotional upheaval, loss, trauma, struggle, fear. My sister being diagnosed with cancer, my father’s rapid decline into dementia and death, several moves, the whole reality of having to parent our parents, shouldering the task (alone) of moving not only my parents from their home, but then less than a year later — finding myself alone in another state for three months moving Rudy’s parents from theirs and the Herculean task of tackling their beloved family home of over 115 years — complete with 115 years of stuff, and a rotating cast of literal bears in the backyard. (I still have nightmares about how close I accidentally came to not one but four out in their yard, while completely alone. Make no mistake, they are beautiful creatures, but in the wrong mood, or with their babies, they will fuck your shit up.)

Anyway, moving from one set of needs to another (I have always been the one in our family who gets thrown at whatever crisis is happening), there was no time for working out. Food was catch as catch can, and as you can expect (and relate to) was not of great quality. Sleep became a pipe dream. Or a pipe nightmare is probably more apropos. And without enough sleep, everything suffers.

Something else began to slowly happen through these past few years. Part of becoming invisible is that I find reasons to not be in pictures. And yes, I know every person in my personal life who reads this is going to wonder WTF? because they don’t see me the way I see me. Especially my husband. He is loving, he is wonderful, but as I told him the other night, he is unfortunately the second voice in my head, not the first.

And the first, MINE, is brutal.

Mine screams “inadequate” “overweight” “ugly”. And it’s loud. Truth be told, I imagine there has been the tentacles of some depression wound through things, too. I look back at the past couple years and I would be stupid to think I could somehow skate through everything without a mark. That is part of why I am sitting here attempting to type through all of this.

Make no mistake, there have been incredible highs the past couple years, too. Our daughters both got married, I am now a Mimi to the most magnificent 10 month old granddaughter. (During my times with her every week, I know the most peace inside — she just loves that I make her smile, laugh, feel safe. She lights up when I walk in and has no idea if my pants feel tight that day.) I have added amazing people to my life through those marriages. I watch my three kids thriving in their individual pursuits. But it is possible for incredible happiness to exist in the same vessel as incredible sadness and uncertainty.

This is not about throwing myself a pity party. I’m alive. I have air in my lungs, a roof over my head, clothes on my back, and people who love me. But again, I just know I cannot be the only one. And if I can purge some of this into this space, a space filled with kind souls (fuck the haters — I literally don’t care about you or your input which is akin to toilet offerings), maybe I can begin taking some solid steps towards understanding it all better, accepting it all more, making peace with the invisibility I feel.

I want to get to the other side of menopause. I want those 12 full months to go by without a period. I am currently at 149 days since the last one. But I also know I have gone as high as 200 and BAM, ruined a pair of underwear.

I want to figure out my new physical reality. I have added more stretching, weights, Lonnie in The Mirror is my guru, and I love my DB Method squat machine. I do not wish to ever be 93 pounds again. That was stupid and dangerous. But to strike back at the 25 that has set up shop in my middle, making my lines all softer, blurring the hard fought muscles in my arms with that layer of squish? How does that meme go? “I wish I was as fat as I was when I first thought I was fat”?

Again, I know the people in my personal life are going to go WTF are you talking about?!?! And I full well expect the ire and you-know-better from my daughter who is currently pursuing her doctorate in eating disorders. To that end let me say, there is no eating disorder right now. There is an emotional disconnect inside that I am working against. I know health is more important than the number on the scale or the tag in my pants.

But I also know that what I feel is not completely wrong just because it is not completely right. Emotions are not always rational, especially to those not experiencing them. I don’t expect to make sense to everyone. But maybe, within this blogmunity, I may make sense to you. Or you. Or it may help you better understand someone in your life.

To you, to them, I would say this, I see you. You’re not invisible. You’re changing, I’m changing, we’re being forced on a journey that nature chose for us. But I have to believe that on the other side, we will each find ourselves again; we will each find peace with where we end up, with who we are, with how we are.

I want to reiterate, I have a wonderful man in my life. He tries his best to be supportive of something he cannot possibly, fully understand. And I know he sees me with his heart, not just his eyes. And that sounds wonderful, but I chafe against being graded on a curve or seen through Hallmark beer goggles of some sort.

Part of what spurred this bit of writing is that it has obviously been on my mind for quite a long time, but also because last night as I was searching for something to watch while taking a bath, I decided to queue up a show I have eschewed for decades — The Bachelor.

The Golden Bachelor, actually.

While I still think a show built around human hot tub soup, fantasy suites, and fighting others for a man/woman is reality TV trash, I admit my curiosity was piqued months ago when the concept of older people taking part was made public. A handsome, seemingly decent human being in the widowed “bachelor” and a cadre of society’s invisible women.

Last night I watched as one after another they emerged from a stretch limo. Sparkly gowns, beautifully coiffed hair, Crest Whitestrip smiles, yes, some filler and Botox (obvious to those of us who dabble), bodies that will never be a size 2 again, but who were absolutely beautiful anyway.

Yes, there were some who were over-the-top in their approaches, a few who made me cringe, but overall? I thought it was wonderful. No, not the previewed tears, angst, contrived scenarios, and predictable fights over “winning” a man, but the fact that these women — all who live under society’s forced invisibility cloak — are unabashedly taking the stage and telling society that they are not dead. They are still vital, lovely, have value and so, so much to give.

I will be watching, yes, probably cringing a lot, but my focus will be more on their bravery at moving into this pubic space, than on the battle for a fellow Medicare recipient.

While the show played on my bathroom TV, I got out of the tub and took a good look in the mirror. No, I am not 25 anymore. My body has brought three human beings into this world. It has fought battles, been sick, recovered, and more than anything, is still alive and going strong. And it’s not terrible. It may not be the reflection I want it to be currently, but it is not bad. It, too, still looks pretty good in a sparkly dress.

Part of fighting against feeling invisible is that I am promising myself, and you, that I will begin to show up here on a regular basis. There is much to write about, I have much to say, and we have another amazing Yes, Virginia season on the horizon.

I found this quote on a friend’s IG account last night and want to end with it. But first, I want to say again, I SEE YOU, dear friends. Let’s rekindle our self love together.

“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world” — Lucille Ball



Linda Sharp

Author, columnist, blogger. Don’t Get Me Started and Transparent Trans Parent blogs