So, about 3 weeks ago now, my therapist asked me to do something. We’ve developed a short-hand, so when she said she had a question that I should ‘take through’ I knew it was a big deal. ‘Take Through’ means that she wanted me to take this question to as many contexts as I could in my mind.
Having a highly analytical mind, I was almost giddy at the opportunity to be turned loose. Right up until she asked the question. — ‘When is the last time you wanted to be fully seen?’
The fervor I’d anticipated was so unbelievably done. We couldn’t do one of the light therapeutic questions like ‘What are all the things going well in your life?’ No, of course not. We don’t do fluffy questions.
I told Sam (my therapist) I’d have to think on this one. But, before I got to my next appointment the wheels were turning. ‘when was the last time I wanted to be fully seen?’ I couldn’t recall.
In true college fashion I had to break the question down into it’s parts. All seemed straightforward, right up until the last word. That last freaking word. It couldn’t be ‘noticed’ or ‘acknowledged’ it had to be ‘seen.’
I did the whole definition thing (thank you google, Funk & Wagnalls, and the OED) all of which made my face shrivel up; first derivation: to perceive or discern visually second derivation: deduce mentally after reflection or from information; understand. So, wanting anyone to do either of those things, to me…yikes comes to mind.
This one question pulled at all my vulnerabilities from anxiety about body image to sometimes having zero self-confidence. A-z, this was the question.
As I began to take this question through I stoped at something I could actually quantify. For me, being able to count something is like finding a rock you can stand on in the middle of a river with a strong current. The context, me as a musician, the quantifiable element, how frequently I perform.
After 14 years of piano training, and 9 of voice I’d been on stage a lot by the time I’d finished high-school and my first two years of university. Then I went on to study in Canada and had some additional training and performance time. But, after my first semester in Canada, I stopped. Cold turkey, stopped.
There was one more performance (if we can call one piece on the piano a performance) in my college career. It was slapdash and not a shining moment. After that, nothing. So for the last 7 years or so I’ve not been on stage to create music.
‘Hmm. What happened there?’ I wondered. But, not wanting to over-analyze I kept on with taking that question through. I took it through academics, relationships, faith, and found some patterns emerged.
In order of my priority all the things I hold dear started getting de-emphasized enough to keep them below notice. Nobody asked questions as I slowly withdrew. It was so slick I didn’t even notice.
What was the catalyst for all of this? Well, it’s something I thought I’d incorporated nicely (and somewhat beneath notice) into my life. I’m attracted to men. I acknowledged this for the first time halfway through my first year of university in Canada.
[Yes, I know for some of you this is an announcement, and I’m sure I’ll blog about it later, but, for now, it’s more important to me to keep this narrative going]
All of my priorities over time went from a vibrant passion, to a dull interest. I realize now my knee-jerk reaction to this cost me some time. I didn’t want anything I did to be associated with my attractions. I didn’t want to be the ‘gay’ virtuoso or the ‘gay’ businessman or the ‘gay’ marketing executive. So, my first reaction was to delve into changing the attraction. Just the research alone cost me my ability to function well in a lot of areas.
Once I figured out I can’t change this part of me, I actively pursued my life of dull interests and expressions. That way, I’d never need to worry about being known as anything. I could just tolerate life and that would be that.
This is where I stop and say, I’m so grateful for the friends and family in my life. Their support, love and all around energy let me see more possibility than I was allowing. Those small glimpses are one of the motivations of this blog and of me finally arriving at a place where I’m okay with being seen. I’ve arrived at a place where I wholeheartedly believe I’m worthy of being seen, loved and connected with.
Those treasured souls who see me, and love me; I’m putting it together that I’m not allowing myself to be seen by many, and therefore am not often feeling loved or worthy. This doesn’t mean that I’m not either of those things, but, I have to be seen before I can feel it.
So, I can’t say I’m exactly where I want to be (okay, I know I’m not) but, I can say I know where I want to go, and, I’m okay if I’m seen while I get there. I’ve picked a road that’s throwing up challenges and I now look forward to facing them as me while disregarding how that looks. (Yes, I know that sounds ambitious, it is, this is me we’re talking about, I’ll fail at this, perhaps a lot. But, I have a goal.)