Day 149 - Seeing & Being Seen.
I had a great weekend. Super nice and the weather was amazing, even when it clouded up and rained a little last evening. The mountains that surround the valley I live in, dramatic and foreboding when a storm blows in. It was dark and beautiful. Amazing how much the topography changes with light and air. Two things that cannot be touched or really held, completely transform the landscape. Changing the mountains from inviting to threatening.
I spent a lot of time outside this weekend and that made it a great weekend. I wonder sometimes why I have an indoor job. I love my job, I really do, but I think that I could have had a great career as a park ranger in a remote station and been differently but equally happy.
One of the things being outside affords me is a lot of space to reflect. A lot of time and openness to let in all my stuff. Somehow examining my life and interiority seems safer out there in the wilderness. My jagged points and sharp turns, fitting into the natural landscape more so than when at home in captivity. Seems less dangerous to really look at myself out there. A place where so much is uncertain and not known.
While hiking this weekend, I had the thought (one that I have had many, many times before) that sometimes I don’t feel seen. I mean people don’t really notice me. I can meet some people ten times and each time they act like we have never met before. This has always bothered me and lit me up inside like a pinball machine. Feeling like whenever this happens it is truth; evidence that I am not seeing worthy. I am not really important or even rememberable. Depending on where I am emotionally, this is sometimes mildly distressing and other times results in critical dismay.
Recently I had this other thought, about this same subject matter. I realized that seeing has a counterpart. Another side. It is a willingness to be seen. And I have really lacked that in my life. Enjoying my anonymity. Hiding and holding back. The thought came to me:
Can one really see if one is not willing to be seen?
I think the answer is yes but only in a truncated fashion.
To see others and one’s self, you have to be open, honest and willing. You have to be willing to look...stare even. Deeply search after what is there on the surface but what also lives below. But for the first time, I realized that without an equal willingness to be seen by others, there is no real communication going on in the relationship. A fear to be seen for who I am, preventive to being able really make a connection.
My conclusion was that seeing requires intimacy. Intimacy requires a willingness to see and also be seen. Intimacy kind of dies on the vine if one part is lacking. No connection forged. Opportunity missed or forsaken.
This weekend I was thinking about some event that is important to me coming up toward the middle of the month. I had the thought (like I always do) that only a few people would care or even be bothered to show up for me and that no one would ever go out of their way for me. This thought used to really be able to grab ahold of me. Take over my thoughts, actions and perhaps even my entire day, or week.
But this time, I thought about how much I am willing to be seen. Willing to really put out there what I want and what I need. And I realized that this is an area that I need to work on. I am super good at noticing your needs. Hyper focused on that for most of my life. All of that work, usually to distract you from noticing mine at all. I can’t even give you a good reason why. I am sure it has to do with fear. Fear of being seen and rejected. Fear of being seen and then ignored. My new mantra about welcoming rejection, paving the way for a different way to be in this world. So nice to no longer be controlled by fear of you deciding that you do not like something...instead welcoming you to reject whatever feels like something you don’t want. Me, practicing doing the same. Both in an effort to create a life that is rich and full of things and people we actually love having in our lives.
My conclusion is that it isn’t easy to see or be seen. Intimacy requiring, in fact, demanding vulnerability. And what is vulnerability except an ability to show up in one’s life in your truest, most authentic form. Saying what you want and don’t want, owning your shit when it appears, trying to do something different with it when it hurts another or yourself. I can see why I have had such a hard time in this realm. Intimacy and vulnerability are the two things that I have avoided most in my life. Always running whenever I felt spotlighted. As if my mere presence being noticed was criminal or at least an affront.
I no longer feel this way. I want to see and be seen, regardless of how uncomfortable it might make me. It was a nice check in point, to see that I am changed, different. No longer willing to hide in the shadows of relationships and pretend that I am showing you who I am. I can walk out into the light and just stand there. Your acceptance or rejection no longer the required condition precedent to my willingness to step into the fray.
I am just willing to see and be seen. It is ok. It is not going to kill me or even make me super unhappy. It only makes me uncomfortable for a little while and then I get over it. My prize for the effort? Feeling ok with me and you. Granting us both some space to come up with some conclusion that I have not created and given to you as your role and part in this drama of life.
Seeing and being seen are the building blocks to relationships that matter. Whole, deep, meaningful connections that make all of the fear seem secondary. Willingness to keep uncovering, discovering and discarding all in an effort to live my most authentic life. A life that allows for visibility coupled with vulnerability and intimacy. Again, finding out that the hardest, most worthwhile relationship I will ever have, with myself. And even that relationship requires and demands that I see and be seen.