When I was 23, I graduated from college, and promptly moved to Austin, Texas, where I lived on a friend’s couch for the summer to check out the town and see if I wanted to stay. The only kicker? She wanted me to get a job at a Pottery Barn so she could use my employee discount to buy shit. (Ssh, don’t tell anyone.)
So, my first post-degree job was working in the stock room at a home furnishings store. My days consisted of unpacking dirty, dusty boxes, and lugging heavy furniture anywhere anyone asked me to. I loved the manual labor and the fact that I didn’t have to smile all day and act like I was happy just so people would buy stuff. I also liked that I eventually met my ex-husband there and basically got to flirt with him all day everyday and got paid for it. Aside from that, there was nothing fancy in the slightest about this job.
About a month in, a large box was delivered to my apartment. A few days before, in a voicemail from my mom, she’d said, “I got you a few things. They are so great! I thought you could wear them to work. Love you!”
I’ve always been skeptical of my mom picking out my clothes, but I tried to remain optimistic. Inside the box, I discovered 7 full-length formal dresses. At first I was really confused and thought I’d received the wrong box. So I called my mom, and then remembered that the dresses were actually 100% in line with the way my mom thinks. So, nope, it wasn’t a mistake. She genuinely thought I would wear prom dresses to work in the back room of a furniture store.
Somewhere amongst staging many rolling-on-the-floor-hilarious fashion shows for everyone that came to my apartment, I got really sad. Aside from the cluelessness that everything she had picked out was entirely inappropriate for my job, I hated all of them. Did she really not know (or care) at all about what I liked?
I JUST WANT TO BE SEEN!!!!
Both of my parents are good parents. They have done their best. And I’m not too fucked up. 🙂
And, there was a level of attention to the detail of who I am at the core that I feel like they just missed. I know that some of that had to do with me, and how moldable I was to various situations, but some of it was also that life is busy and there were three kids and there was never time to just sit and stare at each other and talk.
I didn’t realize until much later in life that I wanted to be seen and known more deeply. Not until after my marriage ended, actually.
Wanting to be known is brave and feels incredible
Being seen and known deeply is one of the most fulfilling experiences one can have. And it takes guts, baby. It takes putting yourself out there to be seen and known. And then it takes the other person (or people) being willing and able to see who you actually are, AKA creating intimacy.
And for strong women like us, it can be challenging to feel seen out in the world, outside (or even inside) of intimate relationships. Why?
I’ll use me as an example:
At my core, I know I am always going to be ok. The little blips of the day to day (or month to month) don’t really faze me. I trust the cyclical nature of life, so I just ride out the cycles.
What this results in is that my entire world may be falling apart, but no one would know because my stronger “it’s all going to be ok” vibe is what they see and feel. And, in the times that my world isn’t falling apart, people often don’t give me any attention because they don’t think I need it.
The underbelly of intimacy
Here’s the thing about being seen. When you feel what it feels like, you want to feel it all the time. It’s the equivalent to feeling at home anywhere in the world.
And this is where we find a way to get what we want…somehow. It’s generally not conscious, which is why it tends to be so dangerous. It’s also where 99% of our self-sabotage comes in.
In my case, I realized that the people in my life are superstars when I’m having an emergency. I get all of the intimacy I crave when I’m having an emergency. My family and friends rush to my side, listen well, offer to help, and show me that I’m understood and not alone.
So, I’ve been subconsciously taught that I can get more of what I want if I have more emergencies. Ugh, noooooooooo!!!
What parts do you want to be seen…and how can you show them in a more conscious way?
Sometimes when we get really honest about what we want, we can pull apart what we want from how we’ve been trying to get it, to find a different way to get it. Alternatively, if there’s a place you’re stuck, or a behavior that you don’t like that keeps showing up, one thing to ask yourself is what you get out of staying there or keeping that behavior.
Your turn! In the comments below, tell me one thing you do that you want to look at more closely to see what you get out of it!