I used to do that. It is a marvelous and amazing skill that I have, or so I think. I can be in conversation and outside watching, listening, recording every word, every reaction, keeping track. Other people can do it too, I know that. We have talked about it.
I was a video camera for such interactions. Years later and I can still tell you what you were wearing, where you sat, what you said, what I said back. I learned to do it so early, I had no idea that it was a defense. I didn’t know that I was trying to protect myself by keeping track of every nuance of what was happening, in case I made some awful mistake − so that later, if I needed to I could replay the tape.
Once I thought that kind of paying attention was a good thing.
I was sure that I was recording what you saw and thought. That was such a silly assumption on my part. How could I possibly be? When I pulled myself out of my head and thought I was looking through your eyes, I was only seeing what I would see, if you looked at the world the way I supposed you might see.
Now I know that the marvelous and amazing skill teaches people not to trust me. On some level they sense I am not fully in the moment and wonder where I am and what I’m doing.
What was I doing? I was borrowing your eyes to fool myself into feeling secure. I was getting new information about the ways that I thought people judged me. Ironic, isn’t it? In my own fear of being judged, I was unconsciously judging others − by my way of not seeing them.
One day. I realized how much energy I was wasting, how much information I was inventing, how much I wasn’t learning by splitting myself up that way. I also came face to face with the idea that maybe this marvelous and amazing skill was the reason that people found me hard to read despite my willingness to reveal things, despite my feeling fully free with information, really despite my deep yearning to have them know me and me them.
When I stopped monitoring and recording every conversation, I lost my phenomenal memory of what you wore, where you sat, what you said and I said back.
But I found you.
And I found that I have to be fully present if I want you to see me.
−me strauss Letting me be