I want to be known. I want to be seen.
I heard author and activist Glennon Doyle use these words in an interview with fellow author Elizabeth Gilbert (of Eat, Pray, Love fame and more recently, Big Magic) a few days ago. I’d tuned in to Gilbert’s Magic Lessons podcast, which, I’m just discovering is a treasure trove of interviews with creative people, some hugely famous, some working in call centres, and a call to action to all of us to walk through our fears and create stuff.
Obviously, this is right up my street. And it’s hugely relevant to where I am today – hoping to finish and publish a second book this year, with at least two more books I want to write after that; often procrastinating and finding better things to do than sit down and write; still not entirely trusting in my creative abilities or in my identity as a writer, despite the fact that writing – even writing these words on the screen right now – brings me such joy and solace and makes me feel entirely at home.
I’m a little late to the Magic Lessons podcast party. The podcast series was recorded in 2016. I read Big Magic when it came out but I’ve only just discovered the podcast.
This is perfect timing.
Things are stirring in my inner world. I’ve been working through some painful stuff, facing my fears and letting go. There have been some dark times and lots of tears, but I welcome it all because I know I’ll come out the other side, feeling lighter, clearer, more at peace, and more able to go for my dreams.
I’m also getting married this year, in June, which feels incredibly significant – which is incredibly significant. If you’ve followed my blog over the years, you’ll know where I was when I began to write.
I was a single woman, living in London, just turning 40, unsure about what I was going to do with the rest of my life, wondering how on earth I’d got to that age and stage without meeting a partner, settling down and having a family, bemused as to why none of my relationships worked out.
Nearly eight years on, it’s a very different story. I have my own family now – a family of two, which, most of the time, I accept as absolutely enough. There are still days when I feel sad that I haven’t had kids, and angry at my past for the scars it left and for leading me down this unconventional path, but I do my best to embrace and enjoy what I have, rather than focusing on the things I don’t have.
I am incredibly grateful. Miracles have happened in my life and I know they’ll continue to happen.
So, back to where I started this post.
I want to be known. I want to be seen.
When I heard Glennon speak those words, I heard someone else speaking my truth.
I want to be known. I want to seen.
I guess I have always wanted this, ever since I was a little girl. See me. Notice me. Know me.
From birth, we have a natural need to be seen and to be known. When we are seen, we feel soothed. When we are soothed, we feel safe. And when we feel safe, we feel secure.
But our parents sometimes are unable to see us, through no fault of their own, perhaps because their parents couldn’t see them. So we feel unseen. We are not soothed. We feel unsafe. And we feel insecure.
If we start out in life like this, we can spend the rest of our lives trying to get those unmet childhood needs met, often in unhealthy ways. We want to be seen and to be noticed so we hitch up our skirts at school and get involved with the bad guys because we feel important, popular or cool. Or we work like crazy to get good grades so our parents will see us, notice us and love us.
We often find ways to soothe ourselves to make up for the fact we didn’t feel soothed as children – we binge eat or binge drink or take drugs or numb out with sex or rubbish TV.
We try to engineer a feeling of safety by controlling everything around us, by being perfect, doing a perfect job or keeping a perfect home. We build a fortress around us – an emotional or a financial one – so that nothing bad can ever happen. And then something bad does happen, and our world view shatters before our eyes.
We hang on to dead-end or harmful relationships because being in a relationship, being next to someone, makes us feel safe, even if we know it’s bad for us. Or we stay in jobs that stifle our spirit and put our soul to sleep because we feel so shaky on the inside so we have to keep our outsides as secure as we can.
I have done many of these things and many more to get my unmet childhood needs met.
Throughout much of my career, I was striving to be seen, climbing up a career ladder until I got to a place where I was hanging out in parliament and Downing Street, mingling with prime ministers and VIPs, hoping that some of the spotlight would fall on me. I was desperate to get on TV but when I made it onto TV to talk about politics, I felt like a fraud, terrified that I’d get it wrong or be found out.
Now, a number of years in to my new career as an author, coach and speaker, I still want to be seen and to be known. That desire, that need is still there. But now I want to be seen for my authentic self. I want you to know the real me. I want to show you inside my soul. I want to share my truth and tell you my story. I want to explain to you how I feel.
Because as I do so, I get to know myself even more. I heal my feelings and make sense of my story. I also feel less alone – I feel like I belong somewhere – because you tell me that you can relate to my words, that sometimes you feel the same.
And as I share my story with you in my books and on this blog, I see myself. I acknowledge the creative child within who’s always loved to write. I let her out to play. I set her free.
I see you, Katherine. I see you.
Do you want to be seen? Do you want others to know the real you? Are you hiding your true self behind a mask or a career? Are you soothing yourself in unhealthy ways because you feel unseen or because you weren’t soothed? Are you staying stuck in a relationship or in a role because you crave safety? Are you trying to control everything around you so that you can feel more secure?
How can you see yourself? How can you acknowledge your child within?
How can you soothe yourself in healthy ways?
How can you give yourself that sense of safety and security that you crave?
Please comment below if you feel moved to.
And thank you, as always, for seeing me and for allowing me to be known and to be seen.
***Resources & Upcoming Events***
If you’d like to watch the webinar I recorded earlier this month, you can access the recording here: Create the Life & Love You Want in 2019. Please note there was some background noise during the second guided meditation so I re-recorded the guided meditation separately here: Guided meditation. If you’d like to use this separate recording, watch the webinar until minute 17:40 and then switch to the separate recording, resuming the webinar at minute 24:40.
Relight Your Fire: Find Your Passion & Purpose. Evening workshop, London. Jan 15.
Stop Emotional Overeating, Lose Weight for Life. Evening workshop. London. Jan 16.
Love Yourself. Love Your Body, Love Your Mind. One-day mind, body, spirit workshop in Bournemouth with yoga. Saturday, Feb 2. Five spaces left!
For How to Fall in Love and mind, body, spirit retreats in Dorset, Spain and Turkey in 2019, click here. Two spaces left on the Dorset retreat!
Free Facebook group for women: Being Real, Becoming Whole.