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Blog Post #1: What's in a Name?

Updated: Dec 20, 2023

Since what I decided to name my very first blog is tied so closely to why I chose to start a blog in the first place, I figured a good place to start was to share why I chose that name. I always give credit to the sources of my inspiration whenever I am able to identify them, and that is definitely the case for this.

I was more than halfway through my Master Life Coach certification course when we were set to begin one of many exercises. We had done quite a few coaching sessions and hands-on learning interactions at this point, and this particular exercise seemed rather basic compared to the rest. I had been certified for a while before I decided to complete this next level, which they had promised would go much deeper. They didn't over-promise. I had gotten so much out of this second certification program already, and was looking forward to seeing what insights this interaction would bring from a learning perspective. What I didn't realize was the impact it would have on me personally.

The exercise was simple. We were put into small groups, and within that group we took turns partnering up with another person to complete the exercise. There were three roles, speaker, responder, and observers. Each group of two was given three and a half minutes in each role. The speaker’s role was simply to say, "I'M HERE TO BE SEEN" and the responder’s role was to say, "I SEE YOU." The entire certification was being done through Zoom. I had been struck already by how deeply people were able to express themselves, and how well we were able to connect in an online platform. Each interaction really added to the richness of the program.

First, little background on me. Just days before this certification training started I had finally completed the first full draft of my first book, and not feeling seen, or feeling invisible like I didn't matter, had developed as one of the major themes. It was a feeling buried deep in my subconscious, yet it controlled so many of my thoughts, feelings and reactions. Writing my book had been a very therapeutic and cathartic experience for me, and there were many times I cried as I wrote as a way of releasing what I had been holding onto for most of my life. Finishing the first full draft of my book was an accomplishment I wasn't sure I would ever achieve; as a result, I was feeling emotionally strong, proud and excited as I went into completing my life coach certification.

In order to even finish my book I knew I needed to also do a lot of personal and spiritual development, which I did, and still continue to do. I strongly believe that if you remain open, true growth is a lifelong practice. So, I went into the activity thinking that particular wound had been tended to and was well on its way to being healed. I believed the scab had been formed and that the bleeding was done.

I was looking forward to holding space for others to feel seen, and not realizing that my pattern of putting other people's needs above my own had me distracted about what was about to happen. “Holding space” for someone is an empathic act in which you create an invisible container around someone that allows them to express whatever feeling or emotion they need to without judgment, interruption or letting your own feelings get in the way. It's something I learned in grad school, and what I have done regularly in my work ever since.

It hadn't occurred to me, at this point, that after birthing a book about my life and laying myself, and all of my insecurities bare, had left me feeling a little raw and exposed. And, even though my book was still in the safe place of having NO ONE but me reading it, I was still in a vulnerable place. The other major theme of feeling not good enough was still creeping around me as I struggled with how to move my manuscript onto the next step. Lastly, the fact that I was still the only one to read my manuscript still had me unknowingly hiding in that not being seen place. One thing I have learned is that the deepest healing often comes in moments we don't see coming...and this time was no different.

We were put into the virtual room and this time I was with a new group of people I had yet to work with on any other exercises. I sat in my role as witness watching but saying nothing as others were at the center of attention. The witnesses also had their microphones and cameras off, so it felt as if the speaker and responder were the only two in the space. My turn came and I was paired with a woman that I had noticed in the previous large group discussion and felt drawn to for some reason. She later told me she had felt the same, but before this exercise we had never spoke.

Since we were in a virtual space, the instructions were for the speaker to look at the screen, but to have the responder to look at the camera so that the speaker would feel the eye contact from the responder. My partner offered to be the speaker first, and I did my part as the responder. I soon realized the reason we were paired together. It was one of those moments I felt an unexplained deep connection and sense of safety with another person. It is rare, but pretty magical when it happens.

I quickly realized that three and a half minutes of only saying two short phrases was a good amount of time. The role of the responder was not to just respond but to hold space for the speaker to let whatever came up for them come to the surface. I could see that she was surprised and a little uncomfortable with the tears that broke through with her emotion, but she got through it.

It was time for me to step into the speaker role and after the first time the words, "I'M HERE TO BE SEEN" came out of my mouth I felt a lifetime of emotion swell inside my body. My stomach tightened and I felt all of my feelings make their way up to my chest, then my throat, then to my face. I felt the heat in my face and ears, and the tears welled up in my eyes as the emotions built up inside of me like a volcano desperate to erupt…and that is exactly what they did.

At first it felt as if the scab had been ripped off of my wound and I would once again bleed uncontrollably. But then something amazing happened, and in that moment I realized that this was a release I so desperately needed, and I let myself feel EVERYTHING. I didn't care who was watching, and for once I wasn't worried about what my strong feelings were going to make everyone else feel. It did help that I couldn't see anyone else's face but my partner's; her presence in particular allowed me to feel safe enough to truly be vulnerable. I felt everything I needed to feel, and then let it all go.

I not only cried, I wailed. I could feel all of the toxic emotions that I had held onto throughout my life pouring out of me. Each time I repeated those words I sobbed continuously and sounds of deep sorrow, pain and grief came screaming out of my mouth. It was the kind of cry that I have rarely allowed myself to experience in the presence of others. After about the third time of repeating the phrase, I could actually feel a physical relief in my body. Each time I uttered those words I began to feel stronger.

That sense of relief was no surprise to me. As difficult as it can be, I always feel better when I feel what I need to feel and let it go. However, throughout my life I had gotten so used to restricting the immensity of my feelings in order to not add to the discomfort of those who couldn't handle them. This time, I didn't hold back and it felt amazing! Exhausting & difficult, but also extremely liberating!

I came out of that session feeling so much lighter. My partner had created such a safe space for me and I knew that was no accident. She later told me she felt the same and I knew she felt a connection similar to what I felt, and that the Universe had paired us together for a reason. We never spoke again after that. The exercise was so impactful for me that I walked away from it thinking that "I'm Here to be Seen" might even be a good title for my book. I probably won't decide on a title for my book until it is closer to completion, but for now it feels perfect for my blog.

"I'm Here to be Seen" is a space where I can continue to be brave, use my voice and share my thoughts and feelings without letting fear or shame get in the way. I was afraid to speak my truth for most of my life, and still have to work at it at times. My biggest concern has always been, who might get hurt if I speak my truth? What I know now is that silencing my voice was actually unhealthy for me, and it damaged my relationships because I wasn't showing up as my authentic self.

My healing has been such an enormous gift in my life, and I want to help others find their path toward healing. This blog is also a space to connect and support others who have experienced similar struggles. My story may be different than yours, but hopefully you can find the common thread that makes you feel less alone in your pain. Maybe it is not your struggle, but that of a loved one, and what is shared here helps you learn to empathize with them in a way you hadn't been able to before. Whatever brought you here, I hope you find what you were looking for, even if you didn't know you were searching for anything at all.

So, here I am, I'm here to be seen, and I'm here to create a space for others to feel the same without fear of judgment or shame. Here we go!


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