I recently had a re-love affair w Tori Amos’ music . I was reading up on the background of one of my favorite albums and it mentions that this album was created as she was reflecting on her relationships with men and masculinity, and a journey to finding her own fire as a woman.
She said, “In my relationships with men, I was always musician enough, but not woman enough, I always met men in my life as a musician, and there would be magic, adoration. But then it would wear off. All of us want to be adored, even for five minutes a day….”
It is such a human thing, to put certain strengths or identities forward by default in our relationships to be seen and reflected, only to find that who we really are and what we want to be seen don’t quite happen; we don’t get that itch scratched. It is easy to think that if someone else would just see us, we would be OK. Much of what we do as human beings is ultimately calling for being seen in a particular way by others.
There is nothing wrong with this of course; it is normal. However, when the need to be seen is not “seen” for what it is, it can turn into constantly trying to make ourselves into something worth being seen. And in doing that, in effect missing who we really are, like really truly who we are beyond the one that needs to be seen. What I have found is that the only way to get to who we really are is to see through who we take ourselves to be, feel through whatever discomfort there is in seeing the falseness of that, and accessing what is beyond the illusion.
The root of this need to be seen takes hold in our early years. We age-appropriately want and need to be seen by our parents, our caregivers and other important people in our lives. For most of us, who we really are, the essence of who we are is not accurately mirrored back to us, and we don’t experience being seen, and hence search for years and years, person by person to try to find someone that sees us. Working with couples in their relationship lives, I see that so many problems and issues arise from one or both people not experiencing being seen. There is healing in being seen by people that we love and that love us- the feeling is exquisite. And, there is even more healing in identifying who is it that wants to be seen, and inquiring “Am I that? Who am I really?”