I could really use being seen in relationship today
Me texting a friend:
"What are you up to today? I teach yoga and that gives a lot of anxiety as I learn to navigate a new way of being, and I could really use being just seen in relationship today. If you have a free hour, would you go to Beauty and the Bean with me today?"
"Yes. When? I'm free all day and could really use a distraction."
It turns out we both needed to be seen in relationship that day and thus entered into a reciprocal seeing, grieving, feeling process....both crying in the middle of a coffee shop.
Let's backtrack. Because this is a blog, and I have ADHD.
I've been in therapy for two and a half years now. Most everyone I know has misconceptions of what therapy could be and what it is for each person. My misconception: I'll go in, talk to a shrink for the rest of my life, basically trauma dump nonstop because my life has been nonstop trauma, literally never stop talking, be asked lots and lots of questions, close the laptop, go on with my life.
Basically.....it ended up not being that.
First and foremost, I learned about the body and quickly found out that I would not, in fact, TALK about my trauma for the rest of my life. In fact, somatic experiencing has a time frame, and brainspotting gets into deep brain/body shit that works that trauma thoroughly through you so that you DON'T have to be stuck talking in loops for the rest of your life. But....I'll get to that another day. That's not the point of this blog.
Over the many years of my therapists therapeutic journey, she learned a thing or two. One, that it's not her job to fix or save people. Most of us are operating under an oppressive system where the DSM-whatever is pathologizing us then we are sent off to people "better than us" to be fixed by them. Without saying so many words, that's what I believed therapy was. I'm just going to this person who got a degree so that I could talk my heart out and she'll see me as her project and take care of me. Welp....my therapist did her own inner work over a long period of time and restructured how she approaches therapy.
Two, that therapy is a relationship of equals. I still am wrapping my mind around this one. It's genuinely been 2+ years of trying to understand how to have a real flesh and bone RELATIONSHIP/FRIENDSHIP with a therapist. My brain. does not. compute.
Strangely, the relationship is still one sided. My therapist doesn't gut out her heart and soul for me like I do, but that's also because, at this time of my relational development, that's just not what I can handle. But, my therapist does share hard things from her life according to what seems appropriate for our relationship in the moment.
Subsequently, I notice what comes up in my body when she shares something so human. I'm learning how to be securely attached and how to be in an adult relationship of equals. It's very weird, I will say.
You may think it sounds infantile. And think to yourself, "What do you mean you're learning to be in relationship?" Sure, I've had many great friendships (and many TERRIBLE ones) but the great ones have always been limited to the surface level. It's like...one of my friends....let's call her "Jane". With Jane, I know I'm never allowed to be sad. It's not really that we SAY that to each other, it's just an underlying energy. I see her when I'm delighted with life and in a good mood. If I'm sad, I avoid her, and when I have been in a rather dull lifeless state, I've felt her judgment silently condemning me. I hide.
And I'm sorry, you're most definitely guilty of it. I genuinely don't care who is reading this....I'm QUITE certain you are guilty.
We have these unwritten rules in relationships, underlying contracts, of how we are supposed to and allowed to behave.
I'm certain that therapy is not just for the cPTSD sufferers but for the profoundly sick American culture we've steeped ourselves into.
I texted that friend because I know she has enough emotional capacity to hold space for a wide range of emotions without pathologizing me and putting me in a certain identity-box. I texted her because she is doing her own inner work. I texted her because I also know that I can reciprocate and SEE her, hold her, and make space for what shows up with her.
The next time you ask somebody, "How are you doing?" Ask yourself how much you are willing to hold. Not fix. Not change. Just hold. It's a strange thing and I find myself lost for words describing how it feels to just be held and seen in an emotion. Both people have to be active participants.
Well, in therapy, I wouldn't say I was the active participant until I started to understand what my therapist was doing. When I'd want her to say things, she woudn't say things. Really, our sessions are profoundly silent.
When I have an emotional experience, she doesn't necessarily match it. It has felt before like she didn't care, but I've learned session after session after session that she was carving out space for me to have a full emotional expression where all the conflicting thoughts and parts and things came out fully, where in the end, it moves through me like the ocean tide and I'm actually left with a sense of knowing, peace, and surety.
Over time, I've come to see that her peaceful presence is really all I needed to simply feel SEEN and CONNECTED in this PRESENT MOMENT with this HUMAN EXPERIENCE. and DAMN!!!!!! I'm fuckin' healed! It's crazy shit-town magic. You don't know it till you see it.
She learned it from brainspotting (so she has told me) and she has carried through that energy in her relational experiences. A deep knowing that FULL BODY PRESENCE WITH WHAT IS heals. That's it.
So, when I ask to be seen in relationship, what I'm asking for is somebody to meet me with full body presence with what is, to witness, and to allow all that comes up and through me to be seen by them, in connection with them.
Not everyone is capable of giving that. And that's okay. It means they probably haven't been seen in some capacity.
Their body isn't ready to hold what hasn't first been held in themselves.
It takes a measure of wisdom to know who is ready to hold and see and who might have some blocks. The people who aren't ready aren't bad. Some of my most flavorful, delicious, extravagent friends can't hold shit, and I'm totally okay with them. I adore their presence and just know when I need my therapist to hold something or when it's safe to ask one of my friends to hold it. Anything that is held passes like a sweet summertime tide of the ocean.
What I hope to see is more friendships that ask, "I need to be seen in relationship".
Because then I know, we are entering holy hallowed terrifying terrain.
Whether it be rage, disgust, shame, darkness, sadness, grief, confusion, dread, angst, terror, fear, uncertainty, bitterness, hatred.....
all of these things deserve to be seen in relationship.
not just in therapy. Therapy is a construct. What we need is therapeutic relationships across the board. We all need to be safe to be seen in relationship. All of our humanity. Every inch every centimeter, seen.
So, when it feels wise, we ask our FRIENDS, "I need to be seen in relationship today. If you have a free hour and the emotional space, can you meet me?"
And not every friend can hold every thing. I am thankful for therapists, shamans, and counselors who spend their lives devoted to this SEEING and PRESENCE and RELATIONSHIP.
P.S. I deleted instagram. Well...sortof. I deleted all my posts and am deleting it off my phone. I will return insofar as hiring a friend to post content for my business or something like that somewhere down the road. the words I found for it in the end were "insidious social contract".
For me, it's a decision to completely remove myself, divorce myself, and delete myself from an emotional relationship with the lies of the promise for SOCIAL media.
It's anything but social.
It feeds me then leaves me emptier then when I came.
I find myself attracted to accounts that remind me of my power only to make me feel the body-sensations of my power in connection with their account....thereby, making me feel powerless and not-enough.
It's a symptom of our social sickness. I can't judge anyone on it because I think it has value. Find your integrity and your intuition with it. Unshame your relationship to it, then do what it takes to do what you know. At the end of your life, it's not worth losing your life. ALSO I'm hella lot more creative the moment I'm emotionally divorced from it. HELLA-LOT.
P.P.S. Once upon a time, I blogged on a little free wordpress blog. I was writing a novel and posted one chapter a week. I gained quite a following until my account got overtaken by spam. It was one of the most delightful personal creative periods of my life. I've been drawn lately more and more to that freedom of expression again. I just want to blog. Share weird shit. Share my life, my thoughts, my story, my creativity. Put it out into the void and hope someone finds it and resonates. Glad you're here.