Self reflections in the eyes of love

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The words popped into my head, an echo from a long-ago literature class.

“O would some power the gift to give us, to see ourselves as others see us!”

Robert Burns, poet laureate of Scotland (1759-1796).

Now before I hear from teachers, I know this is the Standard English translation of lines from a Burns poem. In its original form it reads:

“…O wad some Power the giftie gie usTo see oursels as ithers see us!

No matter the translation, the words spoke to me about how we perceive ourselves. Over the weekend, I experienced an exercise in seeing how others see me and it was interesting to read one-word descriptions of myself.

However, the people participating in the exercise have only known me a short while so perhaps the words might change after we spend more time together. Still it set me thinking about how we see ourselves through the eyes of others, and we do see ourselves through the eyes of others whether we realize it or not.

It starts when we are kids and we learn about ourselves from those who are closest to us — our parents, siblings, relatives and friends. I think we have this picture of who we are and then the stuff we hear about ourselves from those around us adds to it and changes it because in the midst of the input from others, we sometimes forget the original idea we held about ourselves.

That is why it is amazing to have someone looking at you through the eyes of unconditional love. A person who looks at you and you know that the way he or she sees you is the way you want to see yourself. You like what is in the eyes looking at you and it makes you feel better about yourself just being with that person.

True, there are still challenges in such relationships. Times come when communication is less than clear, when it takes some sorting through to get it going in the right direction again. Yet you know even in those moments, the person still holds that picture of you that you like seeing.

Why was I thinking all this about relationships and seeing myself as another person sees me? Well, this next weekend I celebrate 24 years of living with someone who sees me in a way that makes me smile and encourages me to like myself. Someone who helps me to learn and to grow, even when the lessons are difficult. I feel blessed beyond my ability to explain how wonderful that is.

There are a lot of jokes out there about wedding anniversaries, some not so nice. For example, there are jokes that compare the passing of another year of marriage to a jail sentence. And, there is the stereotype of the husband who always forgets the anniversary and gets in big trouble at home — ha, ha, ha — that one is kind of stale.

For me celebrating the anniversary of my marriage is an opportunity to express thanks for the life I have with the man who chose to travel down this road with me. It is a day to appreciate that I have someone who sees me the way I know he sees me.

My husband looks at me and sees the best I can be. That is truly a gift.

So, as I celebrate another anniversary, I hope for only one thing, that my husband sees himself as I see him because through my eyes he is about as close as you can get to perfect.