When Being Seen Is An Inside Job

 Photo by Bella Cirovic, shetoldstories.com

Photo by Bella Cirovic, shetoldstories.com

Almost two years ago I sat in the office of a wise woman whom I had never met with my friend Kate by my side. When she asked what brought me there, I said, I'm a girl without a mirror. And then she told me who I am. It was so uncomfortable and unbelievable to sit under her gaze and hear her words that I squirmed in my chair and tried not to let her words just roll off of me like raindrops on an umbrella.

I tried to receive her words and tuck them into some pocket of my heart so I could carry them with me as a small reassurance or reminder until my vision could catch up to hers.

There are very few of us who can't use a good mirror from time to time--people who see us and tell us the parts we have difficulty seeing for ourselves. That day something transpired with Kate as my witness that felt almost holy, but it was really the beginning of a journey and not an arrival point. Since then other people have seen me quite clearly, and their words have been a balm to me.

It's true.

But taking on and using the words of others has not been true. Not because they weren't good words or they weren't the truth, but because I wasn't ready to be seen that way. Because I wasn't ready to see myself that way.

And this is the part of my journey that has been most arduous--the part for which I've needed companions who are not afraid of the dark. Companions who would be mirrors not once for me, but for months and for years.

When who you are becoming breaks all the rules in the world from which you've come, the job at hand is not just to have words for who you are but to construct a new interior world in which who you are can be welcomed and not feared.

And that is not a one-day job. That is a two-years-from-being-seen-to-writing-a-bio journey, at least for some of us. Even with the best of friends and soul care professionals.

This has weighed heavily on me in recent days, as websites and people pop up around the internet promising big things in the way of sexy web copy, skyrocketing sales, and the kind of just-around-the-corner success that will Finally Make You Feel Okay as a Human Being. ThIs I know: Those who bathe their web copy in super-steroid adjectives like bodybuilders who can't stop flexing are not my people. And it's too bad, because some of them share some helpful material from time to time, if you can, as Phyllis says, duck the hyperbole.

I woke up one day last week at 5:20 in the morning with words pouring into my head. I sat up and grabbed a piece of paper on which to transcribe them, and that's how I was able for what felt like the first time to express clearly what it is I do.

It didn't happen because I hired a copywriting rock star. It happened because of all of the hundreds of parts and pieces of this long journey, which strung all together finally landed me onto a safe shore.

It happened because when I told my friend Aaron I wanted to make a movie, he didn't look at me like I was a crazy person. Because my NYU film-prof/mom-friend-from-school thought it was really amazing that I'm a self-taught artist and not really ridiculous. Because my therapist says I haven't really fallen from grace, just because I've fallen out of an old paradigm which had nothing to do with real grace. Because Bella caught something in her camera that I could finally see as something real outside the fantasy of my mind. Because my friends take me seriously even when I don't. It's the mysterious and divine way in which a hundred moments combine and converge to knit your heart together in the places in which is torn.

There is no 3-step formula for this kind of transformation. The kind that says I will let myself be remade, I will say good-bye to something past and raise my head and open my eyes while I step into something new. There is only encouragement and guideposts and inspiration and companions along the way, and this is the bedrock foundation of everything my friends and I make and do together.

In commercial terms, it's like the worst marketing ever.

So we don't even try to make it fit through the commercial machines. We do it our way, without hyperbole and promises. And we invite you to come along.


Check out what's new on the site about what I'm up to right now. And if you want, drop me a line and tell me what you're up to. I won't think you're a crazy person--I will think you are amazing. Really.