Having invisible wounds and feeling invisible is something that I have lived with since I was a little girl. Not seen or acknowledged by family members, schoolmates, workmates was my normal and I kind of got used to it. Sometimes it was good because I was able to get away with things others wouldn't but like you reading this I am human and it is in our nature to be part of a group, a community, to have friends and to have connections... I didn't.
I grew up in Puerto Rico surrounded by people who even though didn't see me looked somehow similar to me, spoke the same language as I did and could share very similar cultural experiences. Then I joined the Air Force and the invisibility got even worse because now I am surrounded by people who doesn't look like me, talk like me and to go even deeper didn't think people from outside the United States didn't belong here (here was the Air Force).
I started wearing masks to cope with the rejection, the way I was really feeling and started to do my best to stand out among peers. I did a pretty good job because I had a very "successful" career in the Air Force until I didn't. I said that because I was able to ride the waves and keep swimming or pushing myself until the 8 year mark when I hit, metaphorically and literally, a wall. A wall that would test my strength, my tenacity and my resilience in ways I never imagined. I experienced some great things while in the service and also some very unfortunate and sad that left wounds that I hope to heal from one day.
The wound that hurt the most is the fact that I was invisible to people around me, I hear about stories of camaraderie, friendships and bonds created while in the military service and I can't say nothing back because that was not what I experienced. To this day I wonder if I was ever in the Air Force or if I just imagined 12 years of stories.
Today the story is somewhat different and similar in many ways because I live in Houston, where there are many veterans, a very large amount of organizations, groups and places to go yet I am still invisible to many... even the mirrors in my apartment.
-Yecenia Caban Jimenez
This picture is one of the last pictures I took while in active duty, I might be smiling but felt alone and today I still feel the same way. Alone because people only communicates with me through social media which adds to the feeling of invisibility that has always surrounded me.