It is said, “The eyes are the windows to the soul.” Many years ago, while I was in therapy with one particular therapist, we spent most of the time working on eye contact. I honestly, don’t remember what we talked about, but I remember the focus being on eye contact. I should point out that I saw this therapist off and on for over 3 years. She noticed that I had trouble looking her in the eye and so we worked on it. Where I grew up, it wasn’t safe to look people in the eye. It was like a threat to look someone in the eye. Sometimes some one would stare or think you’re staring at them if you look them in the eye. I only saw terror when I looked people in the eyes so I kept my head down. In the therapy office, I was dealing with depression, PTSD and dissocation but at this particular time in my life, I needed to learn to look her in the eye so I can learn to trust her and others.
The first time, I took my looking others in the eye out of the therapist’s office, I tried it on my psychiatrist. She didn’t notice it the first time, and I didn’t want to try it again, but with the prodding of my therapist I tried again. The next time, the psychiatrist noticed and it seems she was uncomfortable. I remember her asking, “what are you doing?” I guess I went over the top and creeped her out! I don’t know for sure, but I didn’t want to do it again! It did take me a long time to learn to look people in the eye.
Some thing that stand out to me about looking people in the eye is that they really see you and you see them. I went from this terrified child to an adult and because I didn’t look people in the eyes, the world continued to be a very scary place! I didn’t know that someone could look with such love and tenderness. Naturally, I did look my husband and friends who I learned to trust in the eye, but most people, I just didn’t. Or I might steal a short second sideways, but I rarely did it. So the world was very harsh to me, I barely trusted the people I went to for help until I learned to look them in the eye. Now, when I meet a new person, I quickly look them in the eye to establish that connection.
This may seem like a small thing for many people, but it really is something I had to overcome and learn. I had many fears and I didn’t relate very well to the world in general. Now, I look at everyone with kindness and acceptance. I try not to judge anyone either. Yes, there will be some creeps, but for the most part, it has opened my world view by learning to look people in the eyes.