“See Me.” (published with permission by the youth)
See ME. Look at ME.
See my curls, my freckles, my beautiful, blue, questioning eyes. Look past the straight face, wary glances, backwards hugs and flinches.
See me. Shoulders forward, head down. See that I don’t want unannounced hugs, tickles, or for you to get too close. See that I don’t always feel safe.
Look at me.
Look at me eat so much, ask for more before I even finish, and then sneak more food for later and hide it in my room. See that I need to know I will have food.
Look. Look past my defiance, my lies, my rejection. See me screaming for assurance. See me living in survival mode so often. Ever wary. See me begging for stability, love and safety.
See how much I want connection. See how much I need to know I am safe, but I don’t always feel that, even when I AM safe. Look at me shut down even when we are connecting…because connections haven’t always been safe for me. Sometimes those connections hurt me. Sometimes those connections left me.
Look at how hard it is for me to trust you. See that, but look past that. Know that it isn’t about you. Know that it will take time. Know that it will take heartache. Look at me. See me. Look at me play, watch, learn, and grow. Look at me run and jump. And look at how I jump at noises, raised voices, and quick movements. See me freeze in fear, even if there is no danger.
Oh, but see me starting to relax. Ever so slowly. See how much reassurance that has taken and will continue to take. See how much patience I need you to have. Please be patient.
Look at me.
Look at me hesitate to show you affection or say, “I love you”, but see how I show you my love in other ways. A drawing. A big smile. Asking for a song or a story. Grabbing your hand as we walk. See my grit. Give me grace.
See me. See me be more comfortable with strangers than I am with you, the one who takes care of me every day. But know that I truly do want your love, even when I tell you I don’t, and I scream that I want to go live somewhere else.
Look at me when I reject you, push you away, and ignore you. Look at my eyes. Really look. See me. See my eyes begging you to stay, begging you to show me you’ll love me no matter what.
See me look at my picture book of the family I am no longer with. See me cry for the mom that I miss. Look at me search the pictures for answers. Sit with me while I cry. Hold me if I ask you to. Answer my questions. Know that I can love her and love you. Know that I do.
See me. Look at me.
Look at my eyes. Keep looking. See that these eyes belong to a 6 year old who has seen more horror than many do in a lifetime. See that. Hold that with me.
Look past my dismissive attitude, my need for control, my overly cautious tendencies. Look past my thirst for attention, the negative ways I ask for it, my need to always be right, and me trying to parent the other kids.
See that this all comes from fear…fear I won’t have food. Fear you won’t see me. Fear you will leave me alone. Fear you will leave. Fear that I am not lovable. Fear that I won’t be safe. Fear that I won’t be loved. Look past that fear.
Hold on. Stay with me. Don’t leave. Keep trying. Accept me. Show me love. Love me. See me.