You Can’t See Me Until I Do

There is an undercurrent of truth seekers in the river of life.

They are everywhere.

Some carry backpacks full of self-help books.  Some can be seen taking a Myers-Briggs Test at the corner table in Starbucks.  Some fill yoga classes.  Some do Tai Chi on a sunny afternoon at the park, and they don’t care who might be watching.

Some might meditate.

Some might write in a dog-eared journal.

Some sip wine and ask questions late into the night.

Some reach out on Twitter, when they remember to.

If I listen closely, I can hear their collective thoughts.

“See me.”

“Please see me.”

They duck their heads and keep reading or learning or exploring or trying – hoping they will happen upon the magic formula for being seen.

They float along this undercurrent mostly content to be learning.  They are consumed by the process of discovery.

They float on homemade rafts made of books and ideals.

I can see them waving to each other and pointing out interesting passages in new books.

They nod in agreement.

They offer each other support.

Once in awhile, one will hop on another’s raft.  They’ll float along together for awhile and learn from each other.  At some point, the raft gets crowded with too many books and too many mismatched ideals.  One person might be interested in the books while the other float mate is interested in something else.  One will make the choice to float alone again.


There is an adjacent current in the river.

This current is populated by loud, well-groomed narcissists wearing brightly colored clothes packing nothing but mirrors, piloting brand new high-performance speedboats.

They ride alone.

They zoom right by the current of truth seekers and barely take notice.

The truth seekers can be seen waving enthusiastically at those in the other current.  With innocent grins on their faces, they yell, “Hellooooo!  Can you see me?”  The narcissists can’t hear them, and they certainly can’t see them.


From the shore of the river, bright heads can be seen rising to the surface to enjoy the sun.  When they come up for air, it’s because they are making progress.  They are getting closer to finding that magic formula for being seen.

They take some deep breaths of fresh air.  They put on a little sunscreen and enjoy the sun and the view.

They know, however, that they haven’t arrived.

Not yet, anyway.

At some point, they’ll take a deep breath and head back down to the undercurrent to learn more about who they are, why they are, and how they tick.

And each time they swim below, they get closer to seeing their true self.

The closer they get to seeing who they are, the less they feel the need to be seen by others.

Is it because once they see, then others can?


No one has ever spotted a narcissist’s head rising to the surface.


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  1. Love it – as always. We really do need each other along the way, don’t we…

  2. Pat,

    Absolutely! And there’s nothing wrong with admitting that! ;)

  3. All I did is to ask if you saw me and you said, ‘yes’. Funny thing sharing. Everyone wins.

  4. That’s what makes us human…

  5. Alyson,

    I always did like the way it feels to share (when I’m heard) and to listen to another person share.

    Thank you.

  6. Beautifully written as always… and so true. Sometimes those that travel with us, see us long BEFORE we see ourselves, don’t they? Because they care enough to look …

  7. Dee,

    If we let them. ;)

    Thanks for letting me see you, dear. And thank you so much for seeing me.

    Love you.

  8. Adored the imagery of this!

    I’m left wondering if it’s possible for an N to ever see themselves as a person/soul? Or is that what they are unconsciously running away from?

  9. Donna,

    I’ve read some articles that say so much of their behavior is driven by shame. I know that sounds contrary, but if you think about it, they are continually trying to overcome what they perceive as shortcomings – obviously they end up on the complete opposite end of the spectrum.

    In my mind, I see them looking in the mirror to make sure they are projecting the correct image. They keep glancing at that image making sure their real self isn’t peeking out from behind the facade.

    The shame makes them not want to see who they really are. Sad, isn’t it.

    And someone like me – an INFJ – so desperately wants to see the real person in there. That’s why I hang in there so long. I keep thinking, “Tomorrow will be the day when he lets me see all of him.”

    But, I digress.

    Again. ;)

  10. I have thought several times that he had scripted his life like a movie. Certain things he would say were extremely odd and irrelevant. For example, when I told him I was pregnant with our son, he said, “Is it mine?”. I don’t think I have to describe the look on my face to you. We had been married over 2.5 years and trying for about 6 months to conceive. It was like he had played out that scenario when he was single and couldn’t help himself but to portray the character he perceives himself to be. Most of us look in the mirror to face ourselves, to see the true us. As Jesse said…they are trying to see the image they want others to believe.

    Later on in our marriage, he started a diary with the intent of selling it as a movie script (this was in addition to the library to be named after him and the foundation he was going to start for underprivileged children). He was recalling events from a work trip with the intention that he was going to sell his story (he was gone A LOT for work). He starts…(insert sarcasm, but not distracting from the truth)… I was sitting at the bar with a double fruity mango martini. I glanced at the hors d’oeuvres bar and there she was, a beauty in white, just like an angel.
    Puke. Dumb. And what made it worse was he was a married man on business and didn’t know this “angel” at all and she wouldn’t talk to him so…end of story. He didn’t describe anything in clever detail or any pertinence to traveling. It was about meeting women in random places. This was his accomplishment? And he was going to ‘sell’ this story? He had been all over the world and spent significant time in each place as he returned to complete a project. Nothing written about culture or assimilation or artifacts or feelings or anything. Just a lot about nothing.

    So, now that I hopefully humored you :), I will get back to the points. They cannot see themselves for who they really are. The dress up, the outward projection of perfection, the acting is who they have become. There is no real person anymore, just a character in a very sad play.

    As INFJ’s we know the sad little boys (and girls) are in there somewhere. They are repressed to a point of no return. This is why therapy fails with them….they can’t admit that they are broken because they don’t know how to play that part!

  11. Yes!!! The poor narcissist…he feels desperately invisible the harder he tries to be seen…visceral in a kind of distilled anger that bites with teeth we can’t see but fear to feel…drowning in his own puddle of self-loathing, self-obsession, self-possession…
    But, it can go like this: See. Be Seen. See (and maybe graduate to Witness?)
    I especially love the days of my adulthood when I am so engaged in Life that I forget to worry about panty lines and forehead wrinkles :)
    Thank you for another beautiful moment.

  12. Z,

    Beautiful, painful, telling and so true.

    I used to look at my ex and picture him as an infant. How could someone not want to love that baby boy the same way that I loved/love Will?

    And the cycle continues…

  13. Elizabeth,

    That’s the sweetest part about being human …. being so immersed in something that you forget about yourself. Pity those who never get a break.

  14. l love your blog and your writing so much. I have been reading it for a few months now and it has helped me more than you know. I recently cut a narcissist out of my life and it has been such a difficult journey. As an INFJ who has dealt with abusive relationships for literally my whole life I struggle with a lot of guilt. I have only been free of it for a few months and your blog helps remind me of the joy and relief I should be feeling. I am working really hard to finally step out of the “supporting role” and into my own “leading role” for the first time ever. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and your journey.

  15. Anonymous,

    Thanks for finding us, and thanks for writing.

    I’m happy for you. I know that “supporting role” well. Your “movie” can only be made when you decide to take that leading role.

    Best wishes!

  16. Z,

    I just re-read your response and had a great laugh. I forgot how special this little spot is and how good validation can be. Thank you. :)

  17. Elizabeth,
    You are very welcome. And I have just done the same with yours. A very smart lady once said she loves panty lines because they make her feel like a respectable woman. :D

    INFJ…good luck to you. Stay strong!

  18. Some of us are going to get run over by those speedboats…

  19. Sandy,

    Kinda makes one want to get out of the water altogether.

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