This is a program that I have been working hard on breaking down for a long time. The program of not being a good receiver. Although I am a great giver and it brings me a lot of happiness to see others happy and have some part in that, I have not been very good at receiving.
I have always had a pretty good self-care game, and know what I need to recharge my battery, so I’ve not often felt burnt out by caring for other people. At least not for too long. In hindsight, many times things have been more difficult for me than they would have been if I just asked for help or took someone up on their offer to help me. Accepted. Received. All of those things.
Let me take you back – without airing all the details of my “dirty laundry.” Because of my upbringing, I was forced at a young age to be independant and self-reliant. I started doing laundry, cooking meals and doing chores in elementary school. I found myself in unstable, painful and traumatic situations from a young age that taught me to rely on myself as I felt I couldn’t rely on those that were supposed to protect me from harm. I became many people’s safe place and “shoulder to cry on” because of this perceived emotional strength I possessed. But it was a facade to an extent. I played the part of a strong, independant, always-having-it- together girl as a coping mechanism, out of necessity really. It was motivated by fear. Underneath it all, I was (and still am) highly emotional, and empathic and needed to find a way to control something in my chaotic world. So I learned to control and often repress my emotions, not rely on or ask others for help because I didn’t often feel I could and knew for sure that I had my own back, and to take care of others because I was having to do so at such a young age.
This has been a blessing as it has taught me that I can rely on myself and that I can lead should the situation require me to. It’s made me a natural caregiver. I get a lot of joy by helping others. I’m good at trouble shooting and coming up with solutions to problems rather quickly. I get shit done. I’ve always had a high emotional intelligence from growing up quickly.
On the down side, I have made things more difficult for myself because I have had a hard time receiving and would have rather done it myself. Anything from accepting a kind gesture like a ride, a gift, and even emotional support from people was very difficult for me. I’d often feel guilty when I did say yes and feel the need to “pay back” said person ASAP in some way. Or many times, I’d flat out refuse help, making others feel bad or shut out. Some situations have been more difficult for me than it needed to be had I just let myself be vulnerable enough to say yes and be open to receive. People are always willing to help.
This conditioning has run thick through my veins for many, many years. In all things, there needs to be a balance. I have realized this in recent years and I still am catching myself being stubborn at receiving and accepting help, whether it is physical or emotional support. It’s a work in progress but I have come a long way from where I was.
This weekend was the first time in a really long time I fully let my guard down and let myself be physically taken care of without feeling guilty about it. I caught a cold and I felt miserable. I spent the weekend at my boyfriend’s, while he took the best care of me! He ran to the store to get supplies, made me tea and food, gave me the space to nap off and on, let me just come as I am, snuggled me, continuously asked me if there’s anything he can do to make me more comfortable and so on and so on. And as a result, I almost feel 100% and will be back to work tomorrow.
This is a big deal for me and for those of you like me…or like my former self I should say – people doting on me still makes me a bit uncomfortable. But not this weekend. I worked hard at getting rid of any resistance. I know first hand how much joy it brings me to do nice things for people and I want to stop stealing that from other people. And also heal the little girl inside me that thinks she needs to do everything herself. Almost there.
I saw in my partner’s face how genuinely content he was to do these things for me. He was (and is) hyper aware of my needs and that feels so good to have that part of our relationship reciprocal. (I’ve often unconsciously taken on a more motherly/caregiver role in past relationships. Never. Again). In what seems like a very lazy, sickness filled weekend has become so much more. I feel healthy. I feel safe. I feel loved. I feel taken care of. I feel vulnerable in a good way. I feel nourished physically and in my soul. I feel supported. I feel fulfilled. I feel proud of myself and of us. I am so grateful for you, J.
We live in an interdependant world. We are designed to help and support each other. That is why some of us are better at doing things than other people and vice versa. If we were supposed to be living independantly, then why aren’t each of us good at all there is to be good at? Right…it’s impossible, ridiculous, and completely unnecessary.
Care for others and let yourself be taken care of. It is not weakness. It is strength because we’re being vulnerable. We do not have to do this journey alone and we can avoid a lot of suffering if we just open our hearts to receiving, as much as we are willing to give. You, too, deserve all the love that you so freely give to those you care about. Please remember this. I will too, as I unplug this program inside of myself from The Matrix.