This time, it was a Subaru commercial song line that became my mantra. It’s a catchy tune to begin with, but the line, “when I see you, I see me” struck me as quite profound.
How many times have you wondered if anyone really saw you? I mean, really saw you for all that you are? I certainly have. In fact, I even titled my manuscript “Can You See Me?” As I was writing, I noticed that I vacillated between wishing I was invisible to wishing someone would please see the whole of me throughout most of the early years of my illness.
The problem was that the real me was morphing so rapidly that I couldn’t see me either back then. I had been stripped of the external markers of who I thought I was. I was no longer the therapist who worked with the homeless or the college professor. I couldn’t walk and was viewing my world from a seated position in a wheelchair while living in a homeless program or nursing home.How did I finally see me? I saw you and there I was too. I was no different from you.
The human condition is the human condition after all, whether you are in a wheelchair, homeless, in a nursing home, mentally ill, an addict, disabled, rich, poor, married, single, etc.
In my efforts to cope while living at the homeless program and nursing home, I eagerly listened to other residents’ stories as if I was still that therapist. I listened with my heart so that I could “get” what they were saying as much as to “get” what they weren’t saying. Really “seeing” them helped me to really “see” me. While I had done this before as the therapist, I had never done so with that much humility.
Since then, I have continued to do this in my life. I see myself in everyone I meet, talk to, treat, teach in my classes, etc. I am everywhere, and so are you. Whenever I feel like someone isn’t seeing the real me, I reach out to “see” someone else. In doing so, I find that I am never alone and I am never separate.