I found a secret special “aha” a while back on Instagram. A woman returned from a retreat which had moved her. And what she described was sort of mind-blowing to me. She said she had felt like she had truly been seen for who she really was by the women in that room. And I envied her. I wondered what that felt like.
I was reading a piece written by business and soul guide, the amazing Caroline Kelso, entitled The Importance of Soul Friends in which she explains how a life long friendship with her two girlfriends is much more than just that. To explain, she quotes Irish poet and philosopher John Donohue from his book Anam Cara : A book of Celtic Wisdom. An Anam Cara is a soul friend. “A friendship that transcends the surface… that exists within the mutual love and acceptance of each others’ core being.” She says that she feels unconditionally witnessed by her two lifelong friends.
“To be seen in this world is one of the greatest gifts
you can receive.” -Caroline Kelso-
And this quote she chose from John O’Donohue vis Brain Pickings.org explains what the love light of a soul friend truly gives you.
“In this love, you are understood as you are without mask or pretension. The superficial and functional lies and half-truths of social acquaintance fall away, you can be as you really are. Love allows understanding to dawn, and understanding is precious. Where you are understood, you are at home. Understanding nourishes belonging. When you really feel understood, you feel free to release yourself into the trust and shelter of the other person’s soul… This art of love discloses the special and sacred identity of the other person. Love is the only light that can truly read the secret signature of the other person’s individuality and soul.”
Do you already know this gift in your life? Or like me, have you hidden yourself away from everyone including your cherished ones for fear they see what you’re sure you know to be true? Failure and flaws. Because in allowing their mirrors to show you their version of you, you get to feel the belonging and the self-esteem you never would otherwise. The only catch is that you have to believe in your heart there’s a possibility to be loved first.
I spent my day with my husband and my children very intentionally doing stuff specifically for them where fun and family would be woven together with their memories of their childhood. I was as fully present as I could be in the hopes that I will hopefully give them the self-love I seem to have grown up without when parents just can’t be there.
And when I got home and took a look at my social media notifications, I discovered that a community I have spent time in and nourished connections within was giving me an acknowledgement. I was being seen. That I work so very hard to publish the very best content and writing I can muster within the limits of my life as a Mom. And for many years, there wasn’t really any sign that anyone was reading or caring. But as I have honestly and kindly been present to witness other people, to see and hear what they are saying and showing, I finally can see that I am having this great gift returned. Partially perhaps because I am not expecting to receive acknowledgement from the wrong places. And I have committed to the process and not the results (comments, followers, numbers).
I know without a doubt that the only reason I get to enjoy any recognition from my people is because I was the kind of friend that I needed to have. And I found many like-minded women strewn across the country, and the world, by being this friend. Stripped of the shallowness of appearance and societal restraints, we went right for the good soul stuff. We saw each other not for the outsides but the insides. And that was a gift I would never have expected or would have received had I not been willing to be seen.
As Caroline pointed out, “In order to be understood for who you are, you must show up and be willing to be seen for who you are.” And have the faith that if you are just you, that those who are meant to be your friends will know you with their eyes closed and their minds open.
Love to all of you wonderful readers. I can not express my gratitude for your devotion and support, be it silent or spoken.
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It has taken me a long time to understand the enormity of this kind of relationship and its impact on my emotional health. I’ve been hiding for a long time. Still do sometimes. Working on that and places like this and our boot camp group make it easier to unfold.
I’m right there with you on the community we have built here online. I never worried about followers and numbers but making true connections. You, of course, are one of them.
I need this book and I absolutely love the idea of Anam Cara. How beautiful does that sound?? That might inspire a post! xo
Jennifer, I think if it weren’t for some of my online connections, I wouldn’t have had an impetus and accountability to continue. And that continuing was really for me but I acted like it was for you, you know? I like the private format of the Bootcamp. And I’ve also seen those facebook groups melt away. I would love to create something but I’d want it to be the right thing. The place that people would need and want to stay. And yes, it is also about the leadership. And I’m still working my way there. Thank you and you should get the book and let me know how wonderful it is.
Love to you and your love,
What a beautiful examination of presence and witness.
I wished I could take more credit Tina but I truly was just trying to do these thinkers justice. Thank you and I am soooo very glad you got to see it!
Thank you Tina. That there’s a deeper level. Like a window you’ve never seen or noticed before.
You are so deep and thoughtful and expressive in your words Shalagh and I love reading your posts. Blogging/ writing has done similar things for me. It really helps you get to know yourself intimately and with that you attract a tribe who “get ” you because they are similar to you. When I was struggling through PND I felt I was “seen” only by a few special souls. Those whom I felt totally understood me. When you are feeling lost that feeling of being understood and “seen” is invaluable.
I thank you for your compliment of my writing and for reading! The voice is just an extension of my journaling and that has surely helped me immensely to know myself. If by PND, you mean also Postpartum Depression, boy howdy did I have a good case of that with my son 10 years ago before I knew there was an online world with nice real people. Like you.
Love to you,
Ps Those photos of your family are beautiful xx
I Love John O’Donohue. Do you know he came from just a few miles from where I live now? Look out for another of his books as well: “Eternal Echoes”.
Thank you for reading Dorothy. There was a high likelihood that someone in the Bootcamp was a fan of John O’Donohue’s at least. Right? Thank you for that referral. I’ll put it on my list of must reads.