I was seventeen, Shaun was closing in on nineteen when we went to the cabin. The idea wasn’t our own, rather a gentle nudge from a friend who knew we needed that trip more than we realized at the time. I’m thankful for his wisdom. Although we had been dating for nearly a year, I don’t think it was until that trip that we really saw each other. Saw each other’s heart; the joy and pain and the fear that lay tucked beneath the surface, the façade we for different reasons clung to.
There were swings at the cabin, up the hill from lakeshore. It was barely raining that day, and we sat on the swings and let the wind fill the silence between us. We were both confused. I remember starting to cry, feeling that nudge again coming with the rain. Shaun turned to me and said “you’ve got to let me in.”
I attempted to start this post with a question, how many people in your life really see you? Following it with another, now how many people do you really see? I felt stuck — wanting to make a point about how often we go through the weeks and months surrounded by people believing we see them and know them, when in reality we don’t really at all. But that would be the obvious question.
I dropped Shaun off at the airport earlier in the morning and felt a pang of sadness that we will be spending another one of his birthdays apart. The morning was crisp when we hugged goodbye, and the clouds considered a bout of rain. I drove away and thought of the cabin. Five years. It felt like a long time ago. I thought about how far we’ve come as individuals, as a couple. I thought about what today would have been like if we had put off that trip to Alaska and his grandparents cabin.
The better question is this, who do you let see you? Why do you (we) hold back from allowing people to really see us for who we really are? We must work to be present and truly see others, but we must also work to trust that it’s okay to let others see our own true selves too. It’s scary. I know. But we may be seen when we let ourselves be seen. Maybe not always, but when we do, there will be opportunity and occasion for people who do want to see us, and we will not feel alone.