"I See You! Here I Am!" - Mark Nepo's last entry for 2012...I love it.
"For centuries, African Bushmen have greeted each other in this way. When the one becomes aware of his brother or sister coming out of the brush, he exclaims, "I see You!" and then the one approaching rejoices, "I Am Here!"
"This timeless bearing witness is both simple and profound, and it is telling that much of our modern therapeutic journey is suffered to this end: to have who we are and where we've been seen. For with this simple and direct affirmation, it is possible to claim our own presence, to say, "I Am Here."
"Those people in our lives who have validated our personhood by seeing us and exclaiming so are the foundations of our self-worth. Think of who they are. For me, the first to rejoice at my scrambling into the open was my grandmother. If not for her unequivocal love, I might never have had the courage to express myself at all. And, after all, isn't art in all its forms the beautiful trail of our all too human attempts to say, again and again, I Am Here."
"It is important to note that being seen enables us to claim our lives, and then it becomes possible to pass the gift on to others. But just as important as bearing witness is the joy with which these Bushmen proclaim what they see. It is the joy of first seeing and first knowing. This is the gift of love."
"In a culture that erases its humanity, that keeps the act of innocence and beginning invisible, we are sorely in the need of being seen with joy, so we can proclaim with equal astonishment and innocence that of all the amazing things that could have been or not, We Are Here."
"As far back as we can remember, people of the oldest tribes, unencumbered by civilization, have been rejoicing in being on earth together. Not only can we do this for each other, it is essential. For as stars need open space to be seen,as waves need the shore to crest, as dew needs grass to soak into, our vitality dependson how we exclaim and rejoice, "I See You!" "I Am Here!" Mark Nepo
It is not so much having the other person truly see you, but for you also to proclaim "I am Here." A full disclosure of who you are. I see it as two people fully standing in their truth, uncovered and without pretend...seeing each other, while being authentically themselves.
This may seem like an easy task, to get someone to say "I See You", and an even easier one to state, "Here I am", but it is not.
In the past 8 years, I have been standing outside of the woods of abuse and not all will say I see you and Here I am...in the light of day. Most will secretly whisper, "I see you....and here I am" while showing me their battle scars. They are too afraid to stand out in the light and proclaim, "Here I Am!"
The other very important part of this writing is to the the people who first said, "I see you."
Those are the ones who believe your experiences and validate the foundations of our self worth. Without them, it would be hard to exclaim, "Here I Am" with strength and courage and finally pride!
I have to think back to the very first weeks and months after my father's arrest to know who these people were. My brother Carl, never once doubted what I was saying. The ladies within my Art Quilt group, when unbeknownst to them and I, my story came stumbling out in one meeting, they too said "I see you"....allowing me to stand taller in "Here I am." They opened the space to be okay with being me.
It were the first few who validated my personhood, that allowed me to express myself with the truth of who I am. It was then, that the initial courage was born.
I had said in the very first days, that all we would have needed as children, was one eye to see us, one ear to hear us or one hand to pull us out. His writing today has affirmed this sentiment I felt so deeply and so tragically, that so many knew and no one said, "I see you." Instead, they turned away.
So many believe that not talking about it, not bringing it up is better, but in my experience, being able to hear someone say "I see you" especially in our battered state, in our confusion, pain, shame etc...allows us to say shakily, "Here I am".
Here I am, as I am. Not whole. Not perfect, but perfectly me, coming from whence I came. Here I Am!
If the person who first sees you can hold your gaze and not turn away...if they can hold not only your gaze but see you as okay and not the abuse, that you are/were innocent, that it happened to you, it isn't you...you feel their courage to see you... and they are okay.
My mother did not see me...and I believe she acted similar as she did just 8 years ago, she made sure Ray was taken care of. She made sure others outside of the house were appologized to. She made sure she 'cleaned' up the scene...but, she never not once said she seen me as an abused child. She only wants to see me cleaned up with the mess (old news) behind me. Forgive and move on.
I will be accepted when I put it away. Until then...there is no rejoicing to see me. There are conditions to her 'love'.
I am forever thankful for the ones who did See Me, for they gave me the courage to say, "Here I Am"...they allowed me be proud of being me. Even if I was the daughter of a pedophile and his wife who didn't see.
(I wrote this and then went to do yoga, and it came to me that I had a lot of people who saw me...and I need to acknowledge them for each gave me courage to continue on.
My husband. He never once doubted me or asked me to do something that I wasn't comfortable with. He allowed me to be "here I am", with out condtions. My children too, have all left me be where I am comfortable and in turn, I have given them the same freedom.
I also had a few sisters in the early days, who listened and cried with me. Their being there in the early days were extremely helpful. And I honored their decision to leave me be...and in turn I honor them.
And, I had close friends who also listened, cried and understood...to the best of their abilities and I am sure often my 'troubles' were beyond their level of comprehending, but the listened and saw me.
It was because of you all, I had the courage to be me, imperfectly.)