We’ve entered the season of giving with a joyful heart. My inbox is full of reminders of places to give money, gifts to buy, and packages to send. Generosity of spirit and snacks is in the air. I’ve made lists of my own. December is never short on opportunities to spread joy in boxes and bags and envelopes.
I’m great at giving. Sitting in therapy this week, however, I was reminded how hard it is for me to receive.
To be on the one asking for help and having people follow through without a sense of obligation or needing to do anything in return is vulnerable and risky.
One of the shrapnels of grief still stuck in my chest is sharp reminder that grief is ever present. Asking for help often made some people uncomfortable. There was an air of ‘you’re still here, huh?’ when being vulnerable, and while not everyone responded in this way, social stigma and my own shame around my emotions cause me to turn inwards. Unhealthy self-sufficiency only leaves more room for the wounds to seep.
My therapist asked, “How would you like to try to receive differently this season?”
I froze before answering. After a moment or two, I whispered, “I have to believe I’m worthy of being on the receiving end of generosity.”
In big block letters I wrote in my journal, Tis’ the season to PRACTICE RECEIVING.
When I woke this morning, I sent texts to several friends asking for recommendations on products I’m considering. One sent me a laundry list of things to consider, another said flat out, ‘Would you like to have ours?’ I was floored.
In minutes, I was reminded of the many ways people DO like to give, but they can’t know you’re in need unless you ask. Grief, tangled with shame, taught me not to ask.
I’m unwrapping old stories, and laying shredded ribbons of protection at my feet. In this new season, I’m going to need help. I’m going to need to receive. And practicing is a beautiful thing.