Someone Saw Me

A little while ago I got an email from an old friend.  We’ve been emailing and chatting on Facebook for a few months now. We’re rekindling a friendship. The email was about observations from 20 years back. It was about things I had forgotten. It was about a me I didn’t know anymore. It was exhilarating and wonderful and exciting.

The most wonderful thing about FB is that people keep coming back. They keep reminding me of lost times and a person I used to be. They remind me and they help me keep my past vivid and tangible. The best part of it all is that I get to incorporate these memories into the me I want to be. I remember that once I was strong and able and lively and lovely and I adopt that back into myself. Because I’ve learned that all I ever wanted is all that I ever was. It’s always been inside of me, waiting to be woken and stirred and mixd with all my more recent accomplishments, experiences and developments.

I love the remembering. After all these years I’m okay with remembering. I know, too, that I was foolish and silly and sad and lost and I was a teenager and it’s all good. I’m fine with it. That night, though, the remembering took a different turn. Not bad, just different. It’s a distinction that we don’t always pause to acknowledge and accept.

This friend, this good new old friend, remembered me in a way that I hadn’t remembered myself. And it was astonishing. I’m still not sure if it was good or bad. I was just jaw-open, hand-across-the-mouth astonished. Why do our brains do that? Why do other people remember us in ways that our own brains don’t?

This friend is someone I value and look up to, a person that has talent, and good perspective, isn’t too quick to judge and certainly not to condemn. This person is someone I’m happy to know and proud to call friend. At the end of this very touching email, where he revealed some knowledge of me, some remembrances of me that i’m not terribly happy to hear, I was in tears. This person saw me vulnerable and unhappy, sad and at a place that I’d rather have been invisible and at the end of his remembering all I felt was joy. I was unrestrained and happy and even free.

He saw me. Someone saw me. Back then he saw me and now, as we renew our friendship he sees me. I have been broken and I have been whole. And he has taught me that’s okay. That is an amazing gift to be given. I’m so indebted. It’s a level of friendship that I’ve rarely had in my life.

I grew up in a family with secrets. We were the original dysfunctional family. There were secrets on top of secrets, inter-woven with secrets. It was a complicated, confusing upbringing. And I know now that it was rooted in fear. For many years I believed that fear was about the outside world thinking we were bad. Specifically, my parents’ fear of people thinking that they were bad or less than.  And there was some bad shit. But that wasn’t the fear. The fear was that people would find out we were broken. That we were human. 

The terribly sad thing is my parents didn’t know what I know deep in my bones. My parents didn’t know that we’re all broken, we’re all struggling and our lives get ugly sometimes. I’m not sure that my parents know this now. So I grew up in a family of people who didn’t want to be seen. People that hoped the spot light would just keep searching the crowd and ignore us.

Temper that with the fact that my father  wanted to be professionally acknowledged and loved his important career because there he didn’t feel broken, he felt big and powerful and important. It was one crazy childhood. 

As I come closer to 40, a little over a month away now, I am aware of how much we all just want to beseen. And heard. We want that deep knowledge that something inside us has touched another. And we all find different amazing ways to do it. 

I think that this may be why I teach yoga. It resonates within me, touches me, helps me feel connected and alive and I want to share that with others. Through yoga I have learned how to shovel through all the muck that my circumstances and experiences have heaped on me and unearth the Melissa deep down. Through years of struggling I know Me and through the work on the mat I know how to share myself. If on the mat, in front of all of you, I can be seen, understood, heard then that’s the bonus. 

It can be a bonus because I have the gift of friends that see me. I have a new family that can openly acknowledge that we’re broken. I have people that read my words and share pain with me as i read theirs. I have long tender emails that tell me someone saw me.

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4 responses to “Someone Saw Me

  1. This is such beautiful perspective to have…the friend’s and your own.

    I love the image of the spotlight searching the crowd…that really resonates with me. I never wanted to be seen either and, as I get older, I realize how much I want/need to be seen and understood.

  2. “they help me keep my past vivid and tangible” YES YES YES. It is amazing to be able to reach back in time and touch the reflection of yourself. I feel so lucky to be able to get that from old friends. And lucky to have old friends.

    Beautiful post. Thank you.

  3. I used to think that being seen and heard was about validation, about having someone other than myself tell me that my feelings were real and ultimately okay. Now I think that being seen and heard is about so much more: it’s about connecting with other imperfect human beings on a heart level. Not just having some slightly deified Other say “Yup, you get to have the emotions you’re having” but rather a felt sense that I’m not alone in the Universe, that someone else out there witnesses my true face.

    I love reading your writing, Melissa! It is so heart-centered and clear-sighted. Rock. On.

  4. This was a great post, Mel, especially the line “After all these years I’m okay with remembering.”

    I was reluctant to accept friend requests from old high school friends on Facebook because who I was then is so different from who I am now. I also thought that if I didn’t keep in touch with them for 20 years offline, why should I keep in touch with them now?

    Then I watched a video a friend had made on FB. Someone videotaped him walking through the halls of the school. I cried. I just bawled remembering the school and former classmates. The very foundation of who I am now, is me back then. There are cracks, gaping holes in some places, shoddy craftsmanship in others but nonetheless, it’s still me.

    The remembering really is OK.

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