"Your smile does not touch your eyes lately."
"I've never seen your eyes so alive."
"Please don't get into with that man. I can see it in your eyes."
"What's wrong. Your eyes."
"I don't like what I see in your eyes."
This is how I know when someone has gotten inside the circle. They can see what is inside through my eyes. It is scary when that happens and I realize that they are in. It is also a relief because I feel safe.
When we care about others, when we love others, we can look into their eyes and know what is really going on no matter what mask we wear to hide the truth of our hearts. They do not see the color of our eyes when they love us, they see behind the eyes and into the soul or heart.
There is one in this universe who does not even need the eyes. I can send a text saying I am fine and the person will tell me I am a terrible liar. The connections that run that deep is a story for another day. Today it is about the eyes.
When you live a life that is hard and have been a lone for most of your life, being able to be seen and known is something you long for, but when it happens, it is unnerving. It shakes you when someone knows what is beneath the mask and accepts it.
How can they? How can they not only see, but dare to accept? Your whole life you have been seen as worthless or bad or less and someone sees what is really there and accepts it. To be seen and to be known and to be accepted. The wish of the heart swiftly becomes the fear of the reality in a moment's notice. The moment of recognition.
To be known is to be loved and to be loved when you have never been loved is terrifying. We may want to reject that being seen even though it is the deepest yearning within us. Part of it is because we have had nothing but a life of being abandoned and hurt. Part of it is because every dream ever had slips away and turns out to be a lie. It may be that we believe the narrative that we are less.
When we know that we are recognized, we need to embrace it. To reject it will drive us deeper into the hole. In last week's entry I told you about a day when a friend over coffee told me that I was getting dark and she was scared. She could see the pain in my eyes. I wanted to embrace the concern and have her help lead me back to the light. To accept the love and the friendship and take the lifeline of compassion offered before me, but I was scared. So I held her at arm's length. She knew too much and saw too much and she was right.
Then came the night that the isolation consumed me.
I was in downtown Joliet juggling a few things. I slung my backpack over one shoulder and with my cigarette dangling from the corner of my mouth I opened the door and juggled my cell phone, drink and bag of food as I closed the car door with my knee. I looked across the street and saw a familiar figure in the night. He was someone who did not like me very much. He was also an addict and homeless and blamed me for his situation.
"Get the fuck out before I call the fuckin cops on your ass.” I shoulted at him angrily. The darkness and anger owned me, I turned away the last light that saw something in my eyes. He stood there saying nothing and not moving. “Suit yourself asshole. I’m calling the cops.” With that, I turned and as I did I heard the bloodcurdling cry from his lips as he charged across the street, “Paaaaaaaat!” and I saw the glimmer of a blade shine in the streetlight as he ran towards me. In a second my cigarette fell from my mouth as I let go of my supper and my drink and swung my backpack across his face. I could see that his eyes were somewhere else and the hit did not register one bit. His hit, however, registered fully in me as he shoved me against a brick wall. I felt my back scream as the air left my lungs. This was gonna be a fight for the record books, I thought as I drove my knee into his groin and shoved my forehead into the bridge of his nose that exploded in blood. Again the wild eyes did not register the pain of a broken nose or a knee into his testicles. I, however, felt my head slam against the brick wall and my neck muscles stretch in an angle that was going to hurt when the rush of adrenaline wore off.
His knife made its first attempt at my midsection and I twisted away from the clumsy lunge and got a few feet between me and him. It did not last long as I felt his hand slam me against the wall and a thumb pressed against my throat making it impossible for me to breath. With the other hand the knife came up again and my calm anger was gone and fear took over as I swept my arm across his elbow loosening up the grip enough for me to duck as the knife came across the air. I knew this was going nowhere and I started to flee. I turned my back on him to sprint and felt a foot crush into the back of my knee causing me to stumble. Fear turned to rage as I spun and punched him in the throat and the solar plexus and the face rapidly and with everything I had. Nothing. His knife wielding forearm pushed against my chest as I felt my back hit the brick again. I felt my legs bucking as the constant lack of oxygen caught up with me and weaken me. I stared into the wild eyes as his free hand hit me in the stomach again and again. I tried to turn but that just earned me kidney punches. If I lived through this I was going to piss blood for days, I knew it. I also knew I was going to die as he gave me one more pinning thrust against the cold hard brick and started to slice the knife across my throat.
I was honestly not sure how I did it, but I twisted my head at the last moment. He missed me. He released me, knife still in his hand. I thought I heard sirens in the background and there was a ringing in my ears. Why did he stop? Why did it look like part of his knife’s blade was missing and why was there blood on his hand? I felt the sticky warm liquid of my life pour down the side of my neck and down my shirt. That was a lot of blood, I felt dizzy. They say your life flashes in front of your eyes in the moment of death. I did not see my life. I saw dark hair and brown eyes staring across from me at a coffee shop scared of the darkness she saw begging me to come back to light. I remembered every word and every contour of her face from that day. I never told her what being seen meant to me. I never told her how truly breathtaking it was to see and be seen. To accept and be accepted. She was interwoven into the fabric of my life and I never said the words or given the proper gratitude. The warmest part of a cold life. My dearest friend. Warm. The blood was warm. I felt warm all over and saliva flowed in my mouth as tunnel vision closed in on me and as I succumbed to the abyss I silently said...I’m sorry...knowing I was about to die and the words would never be heard.
I did not die. I got yet another scar on my body added to the collection.
I was recently told my eyes were sad. I do not want them to be sad. Running will just kill me.
I no longer run from those who see me. I run towards them and I listen to what they see in my eyes. It can save your life and maybe bring light and wonder to the eyes.
See and be seen.