Do you feel seen?

Is it more important to be loved or to be seen? What does it mean to really see someone?  How do we know that we are truly seen? How does it feel? Can we be loved without being seen?  

I have been wrestling with these thoughts this week, as I process the last twenty-two months that I spent caring for a lovely woman with Alzheimer’s Disease. I am going to call her Marcy here, although that is not her name. Marcy is now in a residential facility, and although I will visit her, my time as her caregiver has ended. 

I want to share a piece of this experience with you, because I believe it is important, and it raises questions worth pondering. I have more questions than answers...     

The Marcy I knew was kind, funny, warm, energetic, brave, and sweet. She loved her family, although she couldn’t always recall their names. She loved her dog, although she often thought there was more than one of her. She loved to dance and sing, and to put lipstick on many times a day. She loved Dream a Little Dream of Me, Rainbow Connection, Bohemian Rhapsody, and soy lattes. 

Her words were mostly gibberish by the time we met, but if I listened closely enough to the emotion behind them and to the context, I often understood her. Sometimes she would communicate clearly, as if the pieces of her brain aligned correctly for a moment. Then she would cry, grieving for what she had lost. I did my best to honor the lucid moments, and to always treat her like she was fully present. To me, she was… 

I remember as a kid learning about twins who had developed their own language. They communicated clearly with each other, but no one else understood them. I was fascinated by that, and often thought of it during my time caretaking Marcy. 

I am certain that her family and friends thought I didn’t understand her as well as I thought I did, and that makes perfect sense to me. I didn’t know the Marcy that they knew. I never met the Marcy before Alzheimer’s Disease changed her forever. They had been saying goodbye to her for years before I met her. They loved her dearly, but she wasn’t the mother, wife and friend that they had known and treasured. We all saw her and loved her, but we saw different things. 

I think I may have tried too hard to maintain contact with the lucid part of her. That part was present, but mostly dim. Her husband called it an undercurrent of awareness. Connecting with that undercurrent was an honor, and I know it helped her to feel seen. It also sometimes pulled me under. I am just now regaining my equilibrium. 

What do we see when we look at each other. What parts of ourselves do we allow to be seen. How well do we know each other’s undercurrents? How do we connect deeply and maintain our balance? 

Marcy is an extreme example, but she highlights for me the need to be seen and known. I believe it is a brave thing to risk being truly seen. I do it best in songs. 

We all have roles we play in our lives, and adjectives that we use to describe ourselves. We also have private internal lives that are precious and genuine, and vulnerable. I believe that this part is our treasure. Sometimes we guard that treasure closely and sometimes we share it. 

What parts of yourself do you let people see? 

How deeply do you connect with others? 

I believe that when we dare to look deeper, and to reveal more of who we are, we see the currents that connect us. 

Do you feel seen and known?

(Your comments are treasured. If you leave on below, please check back. I always respond...)

10 comments

  • MaryCatherine

    MaryCatherine West Noriston

    Good for you struggling to glimpse the sides of Marcy. I was a caregiver for my uncle who was more lucid most of the time although he would call me convinced he was locked in a basement. It was challenging but I still miss him 5 years later. I was luck he had a wonderful disposition and was very grateful for the time we had together although his calls every few hours made it clear I could not give him enough. I am sorry it took so much of a toll on you but I must say were I ever in Marcy's position I hope someone like you is on my world with me. Have a ticket to your concert Saturday. Looking forward to hearing you and John Gorka.

    Good for you struggling to glimpse the sides of Marcy. I was a caregiver for my uncle who was more lucid most of the time although he would call me convinced he was locked in a basement. It was challenging but I still miss him 5 years later. I was luck he had a wonderful disposition and was very grateful for the time we had together although his calls every few hours made it clear I could not give him enough. I am sorry it took so much of a toll on you but I must say were I ever in Marcy's position I hope someone like you is on my world with me.
    Have a ticket to your concert Saturday. Looking forward to hearing you and John Gorka.

  • Denise Moser

    Denise Moser

    Hi MaryCatherine, Thank you for your kind thoughts. Much appreciated... My time with Marcy was precious to me and I am still processing it. Your uncle was lucky to have you too. It sounds like you were a comfort to him. Thanks for coming to the show! You are always supportive of my music. It means so much to me. Thank you! See you soon...:-)

    Hi MaryCatherine,
    Thank you for your kind thoughts. Much appreciated...
    My time with Marcy was precious to me and I am still processing it.
    Your uncle was lucky to have you too. It sounds like you were a comfort to him.
    Thanks for coming to the show! You are always supportive of my music. It means so much to me. Thank you!
    See you soon...:-)

  • Bryan Abes

    Bryan Abes Kennett Square, Pennsylvania

    Denise, when you gave your sermon about this topic at the service you led, it resonated with me SO MUCH! I hope it is possible to have the best of both worlds, and be seen AND known. There are certainly ways that I would like people to see me that I’m not sure they do. In some cases, I know they don’t. For instance, my co workers from my last job only saw the uncomfortable, unconfident side of me. They never knew the musical, mathematical, trope chanting side of me which are my areas of confidence. In the case of you and I, over the years you’ve known me. I know that other colors may have slowly, but surely started to emerge that you didn’t see in the beginning. Like coming off pretty strong when I vent my feelings about the Jewish movements, and high holiday matters. Even when I do that, I always go about my day hoping that you see that I’m a kind, caring person who just has some pet peeves(as we all do). Anyway I think you DO see me that way. Always a pleasure reading along. Absolute best of luck finding a new and meaningful job. I’m always in your corner. -Bryan

    Denise, when you gave your sermon about this topic at the service you led, it resonated with me SO MUCH! I hope it is possible to have the best of both worlds, and be seen AND known. There are certainly ways that I would like people to see me that I’m not sure they do. In some cases, I know they don’t. For instance, my co workers from my last job only saw the uncomfortable, unconfident side of me. They never knew the musical, mathematical, trope chanting side of me which are my areas of confidence. In the case of you and I, over the years you’ve known me. I know that other colors may have slowly, but surely started to emerge that you didn’t see in the beginning. Like coming off pretty strong when I vent my feelings about the Jewish movements, and high holiday matters. Even when I do that, I always go about my day hoping that you see that I’m a kind, caring person who just has some pet peeves(as we all do). Anyway I think you DO see me that way. Always a pleasure reading along. Absolute best of luck finding a new and meaningful job. I’m always in your corner.
    -Bryan

  • Denise Moser

    Denise Moser

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment Bryan. You see the cantorial singer/Jewish professional side of me that most here don’t know about. We are all multifaceted beings. It has been my sincere pleasure getting to know you. You are a special person, and it is my wish that more people will have the honor of knowing you. Thanks for reading along Bryan. Much appreciated...

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment Bryan. You see the cantorial singer/Jewish professional side of me that most here don’t know about. We are all multifaceted beings. It has been my sincere pleasure getting to know you. You are a special person, and it is my wish that more people will have the honor of knowing you. Thanks for reading along Bryan. Much appreciated...

  • alisa

    alisa in my own little world

    Thank you for making me weep with these words. Your compassion, honesty, and humble acceptance without judgment are lessons I hope to learn better in my own life... LOVE YOU, WOMAN!!! Wish I could catch your show tomorrow because I know how awesome it will be in every way! <3 <3 <3

    Thank you for making me weep with these words. Your compassion, honesty, and humble acceptance without judgment are lessons I hope to learn better in my own life... LOVE YOU, WOMAN!!! Wish I could catch your show tomorrow because I know how awesome it will be in every way! <3 <3 <3

  • Denise Moser

    Denise Moser

    Love you too Alisa! You are a compassionate, generous, wonderful soul. Don’t sell yourself short. I wish you could be there tomorrow too. I’m excited for this show, and hope to feel proud of myself at the end of the night. Thanks for your support…

    Love you too Alisa! You are a compassionate, generous, wonderful soul. Don’t sell yourself short. I wish you could be there tomorrow too. I’m excited for this show, and hope to feel proud of myself at the end of the night. Thanks for your support…

  • harry

    harry mars

    omg. your show is tomoro yes? yikes. im suddenly nervous. i wish for you your best performance, although you possess Talent, a commodity of far greater value than wishes, unless of course the wishes are of the 'genie in a bottle' variety. the point is you're going to do great cuz you Got It.

    omg. your show is tomoro yes? yikes. im suddenly nervous. i wish for you your best performance, although you possess Talent, a commodity of far greater value than wishes, unless of course the wishes are of the 'genie in a bottle' variety. the point is you're going to do great cuz you Got It.

  • Denise Moser

    Denise Moser

    Harry! Yes, it’s tomorrow, and I am both excited and nervous. I wish for my best performance too. Rehearsal today went well. I need to just relax and have fun. It’s a big one for me, and I can’t let anxiety ruin it. It’s too important to me for that. Thanks for believing in me! It’s appreciated. I believe in you too. You have a unique and beautiful talent. Thanks again...

    Harry! Yes, it’s tomorrow, and I am both excited and nervous. I wish for my best performance too. Rehearsal today went well. I need to just relax and have fun. It’s a big one for me, and I can’t let anxiety ruin it. It’s too important to me for that. Thanks for believing in me! It’s appreciated. I believe in you too. You have a unique and beautiful talent. Thanks again...

  • Randee

    Randee Words

    Your words are magical Really make me think and feel deeply from my soul ! What an amazing experience you shared with Marcy

    Your words are magical
    Really make me think and feel deeply from my soul !
    What an amazing experience you shared with Marcy

  • Denise Moser

    Denise Moser

    Thank you Randee. It touches me to know that my thoughts touched you. Thank you...

    Thank you Randee. It touches me to know that my thoughts touched you. Thank you...

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