How We Carry: Rethinking Being Seen
In relational healing I see a lot of tension in people between desperately wanting to be seen and being absolutely terrified of being seen. Being invisible may protect us but we may need to be seen in order to make the connections we're looking for. We can curate an image-looking at you social media- but still we can't control how we are seen.
Mostly, because when others see us it's about them and our eyes are notoriously unreliable. So we are being seen not as we feel or as we are but filtered through a thousand different lenses that may never really be about our truths. Our eyes are limited and even energetically we see only parts of ourselves and others. Capitalism and colonization also greatly influences what and how we see.
And so what I think we actually long for is not just to be seen in all our facets but to have others bear witness to us.
What is the difference? To see is quick information consumed for processing. A detail-this person has money, this person is nice. The things we see are glimpses and then we make meaning of the glimpses.
Bearing witness is something different. To witness again implies seeing but it can go deeper. Another definition of witness is to personally experience making to bear witness an interactive event.
Let us reclaim the word witness from the injustice system by shifting our focus to the word-to bear. In my mind to bear means to carry. Which implies a relationship. To say "I see you" can have great distance. But to bear witness means we must get close enough to carry a person’s story.
Which brings me to the idea of bearing witness is also about a redistribution. When we bear witness to ourselves we shift the energy. For so many things that have happened to us in our life we cannot just let go. We are forever changed by those experiences to simply let them go and that would not honor the wholeness of who we are. But we can bear witness to ourselves and shift the energy changing the impact.
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