By Heidi Naylor -Foster/Adoptive Mom & UFC Retention Services Specialist
“Being safe is about being seen and heard, and allowed to be who you are, and to speak your truth.” – Rachel Noami Remen
We all can identify with the desire to be seen, to speak our truth, for others to know our story. My daughter starts out every morning the same way. She has boundless energy. She commands my attention. She tells me she needs her medicine. And then she hugs me for 20 seconds. She overheard her Dad talking about how hugging someone for 20 seconds, triggers a release of the neurotransmitter oxytocin. I am sure she doesn’t understand what that means. But, she knows it helps her feel both safe and seen. This was not always the case. She came from a home of neglect. Where domestic violence was common. Where many of her needs weren’t met. She didn’t even cry when she first came to our home. Before coming to us crying served no purpose. Diapers weren’t changed, naps never ended, and bottles were not consistent. With us she learned that her needs were met and she discovered her voice. That voice roars like a lion sometimes.
When I get home from work she is usually the first to meet me. Sometimes I am not even in the driveway before she is opening the driver’s door to tell or show me something. I am continually working on being present in that moment for her. For her need to be acknowledged, to know that I see her. Not all of our children command being seen like my daughter. Many of our children resist being seen. They struggle with the feelings it brings up when bringing someone else so intimately into their space. They may respond in a hurtful way to our efforts to see them. Because their self-talk includes a lot of shame and guilt. It’s even more important to be present in these moments and reaffirm to our children that we still see them and still love them even when they feel and act unlovable. Learning that we can be patient in moments that they are struggling with big emotions. Teaches us both valuable lessons. Listening and connecting above everything else.
I am grateful that my daughter so clearly lives by this quote by Jim Carrey: “Your need for acceptance can make you invisible in this world. Don’t let anything stand in the way of the light that shines through this form. Risk being seen in all of your glory.”