Learning to Receive

Monday, January 2, 2017 No tags Permalink

I read two things today, two very poignant things.  It was exactly what I needed to read, exactly when I needed it. These pieces caused me to have some rather painful realizations, but that may be just what I need right now. Life works in mysterious ways sometimes. 😊

I’m going to share one of the writings that was sent to me. I may share the other one on here as well, or I may just send it directly to the person that it applies to. I haven’t decided yet.

This is could have been written by me. I never ask for help. I never admit that I need anything. When you are un-demanding and self-sufficient everyone forgets you even have needs and you’re easy to be pushed down the ladder of priorities. 

“Did you set a resolution this year?

I did so for years, and then I quit because they seemed arbitrary at best. I took a stab at it again recently and my goal was to live more presently in my daily life. To stop floating around on autopilot, not knowing what day it was or where I had to be.

To stop thinking about the eight other things I had to do while my daughter told me about her day or my son played a game of basketball.

This was two years ago. I still haven’t solved the issue. Honestly, it’s because I haven’t worked on it.

The thing about goals is they are really easy to say. You open your mouth and words spill out like turning the crank on a gumball machine.

But putting those words to action is a different story entirely.

Saturday night I decided to once again embark on the whole New Year resolution thing.

This time it’s different.

My resolution came to me after one of the hardest and most devastating Christmas holidays I’ve had in a long time.

I haven’t talked much about it publicly, though I have made mention of it to my Fit Thrive Private Facebook group.

Almost a year ago I asked my husband to move out and it was followed by a subsequent divorce. We’d been together for 18 years and I didn’t want to live the rest of my life unhappy.

This year was filled with many difficult ‘firsts,’ but also many exciting ones.

And many interesting ones, too.

Imagine being age 36 and dating for the first time in your life. Yeah, that gets interesting.

So this was the first Christmas that I spent without my family. Last year family from all over the country flew in for two weeks. There wasn’t a day with feet tromping through my living room or fresh pies in the oven.

This year no one traveled here and my kids stayed the week with their dad.

For the first time ever I was completely alone. I spent Christmas Eve with a friend’s family as the orphaned tagalong. It was a nice time, and while there I made a very keen observation about the woman hosting the dinner.

More on that in a bit because it has a lot to do with my resolution.

A few days prior to Christmas a man I chatted with about the editorial process for his new book asked me on a date. He insisted that he take me out on Christmas night, as he was alone for the holiday as well.

I told him Monday was a better day, but he seemed so eager to meet me that we began planning a whimsical Christmas night on the town.

We chatted via text Christmas morning, but he made no confirmation of our plans that night. I nudged him a bit later in the day, and very aloofly he responded that he made plans with friends and wanted to see me Monday.

The nice thing about being single for the first time in my life is that I mind very little if this behavior occurs. I simply move on and won’t go out with the guy.

But this time was difference. As I sat alone in my garage after a workout I realized that I had no one to be with on Christmas.

Not a single person.

I’m not an anxious person. I’m very calm and rational, but for the first in my life I began having what I think was an anxiety attack.

My heart beat out of my chest. My breath sped up and began shaking uncontrollably.

It wasn’t that he blew me off. His loss.

It was that I hadn’t emotionally prepared myself for this moment. I had no idea how it would feel to be sitting all alone in my garage on Christmas night.

And it was completely my fault.

My fault because no one knew that I was alone.

Ever since I can remember I’ve always been a very giving person and not so good at receiving.

Even more so, I’m terrible at letting others know when I need something.

I have very vivid memories from childhood of times when I was so afraid to ask for what needed that the results left emotional scars.

Like at age six when I was afraid to ask for a restroom break in gymnastics and peed on the floor in front of 30 kids.

Or when I forgot to meet my dad at the soccer field after school and rather than going to the office to call home, I decided to start walking home—which was about eight miles up the mountain. Again at age six. Luckily my mom’s friend saw me in town and gave me a ride.

This is a behavioral trend that I’ve kept since the time I was a small girl. I never ask for anything from people. I’m the worst to shop for during the holidays because I always tell my family, “I’m fine. I don’t need anything,” when they ask what I want as a gift.

Other than being completely and utterly selfish, not receiving or expressing needs is one of the most self-damaging behaviors you can have in relationships.

I’ve learned over the years that being giving isn’t enough because those who receive from you want to reciprocate the kindness.

I never let that happen. I’m constantly giving myself away and not accepting anything from others.

What I’ve learned happens when this behavior occurs is people will only accept rejection so many times before they learn to stop asking.

And they will also assume that you are truly OK and not in need of anything.

Ever. And they will never ask.

And I will never ask for help. I will never admit that I need anything from anyone.

I’m a strong, independent woman perfectly capable of meeting my own needs, of doing things on my own, and of figuring the world out. Right?

**Note: this type of attitude is what leads you to be alone in your cold garage on Christmas night.

The next night I went out with my friend Melissa. She asked about my Christmas and I told her exactly how it was.

Her response: You should have called me. I had no idea you were alone. You could have come here.

There were probably ten other people in my phone directory that would tell me the same exact thing.

From that moment I knew I had to change. Being a strong, independent woman who is capable of meeting her own needs doesn’t equal not receiving anything from anyone.

It means that you are capable of receiving as much as you are of giving. Because strong women are good at asking for what they need and at accepting help from others.

It means there are gobs of people out there who deeply care about you and want to see you happy. Masking your unhappiness, masking your needs, masking the fact that you need help, that you need others doesn’t allow them to care for you.”

(It was right about here in my reading this I had an a-ha moment. It resonated so deeply with me.)

“And I am learning in my older and wiser years in life that relationships work on the premise of reciprocity – the fulcrum that balances the art of giving and receiving.

Back to my observation. The woman who hosted the dinner on Christmas Eve was still preparing food when I arrived. Her stove was covered in cooking pots, each one being manned by either her child or friend to whom she dutifully assigned jobs.

The room was filled with warm smiles and no one felt burdened by her request for help. In fact, they all seemed eager to do more for her after they finished what she assigned.

In that moment I thought, “This is how life’s supposed to work.”

I’ve spent the last year avoiding pretty much everyone. That’s what I do when things get tough.

I stay indoors avoiding the busy hours when my neighbors are out walking their dogs.

I rarely call anyone for fear of having to talk about my divorce. I am not even sure half my family knows about it as I received dozens of holiday cards addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Davis.

I guess my rational is that if I avoid everyone then no one will ask me if I need anything.

And this year more than any year, I’ve needed people a whole hell of a lot.

They just didn’t know it.

So on this second day of 2017, I surrender wholly and humbly to the idea that I need people just as much (if not more so) than they need me.

Because needed people, wanting their help, inviting in and accepting their compassion, is the key to a happy, fulfilling life.

And isn’t that what our resolutions are all about?

Unlocking our greatest potential through happiness?

So as you move forward into this New Year, I want you to think about why you are setting your particular goal.

What will it do for your overall happiness? What will it change for you?

Once you figure that out, look at habits and trends in your behaviors that prevent you from already achieving what you want.

Those trends and behaviors are the ticket to unraveling the ‘why’ when it comes to setbacks.

For me, I know I have a long and winding road ahead of me. My ‘why’ for this behavior is deeply rooted in a subconscious belief that was instilled from a very young age.

But we all start somewhere. And starting is the most important step in all of this.

Because starting takes us from talking about to acting upon our goals.

Hope this year is filled with wonderful discoveries for you.”


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