I've been thinking a lot about the idea of being seen and heard. As a child of abuse it was not something I experienced growing up, I think it's pretty common among that subset of children. I also grew up choosing relationships where that did not happen, recreating my past. Perhaps David's greatest gift to me was that he gave me a relationship where I was seen and heard.
He saw all the crazy, angry, beautiful, creative things in me and did not turn away, did not try to change any of it. And in doing so allowed me the space to change some of them for the better. He heard all the ugly stories, all the crazy crap I had lived through and created for myself and he just let it be. And in doing so allowed me to let some of it go.
For someone like me that is an astonishing gift. I believed in my heart of hearts that most children got that from the start and so had no idea what kind of gift it was. In reality, I suspect none of us gets that kind of unconditional attention and acceptance as much as we deserve, and so we all wish for it and wonder if it's possible.
To be seen and heard and loved in all our prickly, terrifying, amazing beauty. That was David's gift. Not just to me, I saw him give it to others as well. Many times they did not even realize what he was doing, I doubt he even realized it. They just knew they liked him, felt safe with him, could relax with him. They felt loved by him. And he was almost always surprised by that.
I think that ability is what I mean when I say that he gentled me. He smoothed off some of my prickly, scared, rough edges and made a space for the compassionate loving person underneath to come through. I'm not sure I had enough time to make it permanent, damn it, but perhaps some of it stuck.
The song from the rock opera Tommy keeps going through my head, "See me, hear me, feel me...." I believe it's all any of us really want, even when it scares us so much we are afraid to acknowledge it, when it scares us so much we fight against it with all our being. If I can learn to be present with others, seeing and hearing them and loving them in all I see and hear, I will have accomplished a great deal. If I can learn to be present with others allowing them to see and hear who I am I might have accomplished even more. Maybe it's not even about learning to, maybe it's simply about allowing the gift to come through.
In some ways writing through this process of David's illness and death has been for me a letting go of the shields. An act of honoring the gift he gave me. I was seen and heard and loved so I will continue to allow myself to be seen. To believe that being seen and heard is worthy of love and compassion and offers the greater gift of allowing others to let me see and hear them. I think it's kind of working....during this process others have opened their hearts to me in ways they might never have otherwise. And oh, what a gift that has been. I kind of smile at the idea of this big old spiral of gifts flying around and around and around, one begetting another until we can't really tell where they start or end. The good life. All we ever wanted.