I spent most of my twenties not wanting to be seen.
Actually, I probably spent most of my life not wanting to be seen, but what really sticks out is the period right after I got divorced.
Not wanting to be seen (take 1)
One of the many lovely things I acquired along with the divorce was
my life falling apart a horrible skin condition.
Doctors and dermatologists shrugged their shoulders and said “stress”, and “it happens”, and gave me medications that were both completely ineffective and came with a wide variety of misery-inducing side effects.
I won’t go into the complicated and tragicomic steps I took to hide both myself and the existence of this condition (which, incidentally, no one ever found out about).
Let’s just get to the real story and the point of it, because ohmygod the point.
I couldn’t stand to be seen by anyone.
Wanting to be seen (take 1)
So my mantra (conscious and unconscious, waking and sleeping) for years and years and years was please please please don’t look at me.
Then I started a business.
So … I had classes and workshops for people to take. I had services they could hire me for. Eventually (once I got over my distaste of the word “product“) I had products for them to buy if they wanted to.
Except that no one was looking. No one was looking at me. So they couldn’t use these classes and services and products that were intended to help them have less pain and fear and stuck in their lives.
I was finally ready to be seen, but I wasn’t being seen.
Being seen (take 1)
Years later. I had long forgotten the weird skin thing. I had long forgotten the painful hiding.
But it was clear to me that there was some part of me that really didn’t want to be seen because it was as if — no matter what I did — my business was invisible.
So I worked on this theme and its related patterns, getting tiny pinpricks of clarity here and there.
And then I got a healer friend to do a session with me. At the end she said we had reversed my stuck “I can’t be seen” belief and I said okay, fine.
That week I found out that I was being quoted in Woman’s Day.
Cue hysterical laughter.
Not wanting to be seen (take 2)
So I started being seen.
My workshops were filling up. People were calling. (No connection to the Woman’s Day thing, which as far as I know, had pretty much zero effect).
A little being seen was really nice. You know, that sweet sigh of finally, where has everyone been?!
But then I started getting more attention. A lot of attention. Lots of eyes. Lots of love.
And oh it was crippling and terrifying.
Wanting to be seen (take 2)
This time, though, it wasn’t a mystery anymore.
It was so completely obvious that I was the one sabotaging the show and that I couldn’t keep grumbling about how come nobody pays attention when I want them to.
So I started doing deeper work. Applying my own destuckification techniques. Clearing out some old stucknesses.
“Even though there is a part of me that dreads being seen, I am allowed to be terrified of being noticed. I’ve been carrying around this pattern for a lot of years and I don’t have to solve it right this second.
“Even though I have this love-hate relationship with being in the light, I’m reminding myself that this “being seen” thing isn’t about me — it’s about helping my Right People find the help they need.
“Even though I don’t know how to make peace with this yet, I am committing to working on ways to help me feel safe and comfortable as I do this work …”
I realized that if I just stopped hiding from my Right People, the rest would sort itself out.
Being seen (take 2)
It’s not like I’m done working on it. I’m not planning on erasing a lifelong pattern overnight. I like working on it.
But things have moved. A lot.
There was the day I got 7000 page views and I went yay instead of oh crap it’s not ready and what if they don’t like it and that’s too many people and aaaaaaaaaaaaargh.
That was good.
And I was on German television and in The New York Freaking Times … and instead of being petrified I was excited. And happy.
I don’t have to make my life be about how not to be seen. I’m just trying to connect with my Right People in a way that feels safe and comfortable for me … and (she types hopefully) also for them.
Yet again: the “it’s not about me” lesson. Which is (hahahaha) invariably followed by the “but it is about working on my stuff so I can stop making it about me” lesson …
(But wait, we have to know…)
How I lived with a horrible skin condition for three years without anyone knowing about it:
I worked nights. At a very dark, smoky bar. I slept during the day.
Spent everything I earned (after rent) on medication, special skin creams from my useless dermatologist and special make-up. And very nice scarves.
No one I knew (including my best friend and my boyfriend) ever saw me either a. outside of a bar or b. not at night for nearly three years.
I kept waiting for someone to ask if I was a vampire. Or a drunk. Or a drunk vampire. But nothing.
And still I hummed my don’t-look-at-me song under my breath. Not knowing that keeping myself hidden would launch a destructive chain of events that I’d end up healing later. Or at least work on.
And now for something completely different.
Because how can we talk about not being seen without this?