I’ve got a tender little heart. This I know. I see people and I feel for people and I’m always wishing I had a granola bar in my pocket when I drive by homeless folks standing on the corner.
I am quick to give to YouCaring campaigns and bring my friends flowers. These past few weeks I brought my husband’s team coffee at work. Made a handmade card for a mentor who just released a book and stuck a gift card in the mail for a new momma.
I don’t say this to brag. I just feel like I’m good at these things. At giving gifts. At making others feel seen.
And then I read this.
When it comes to taking care of treating myself, receiving. or extending the same kindnesses to myself, I realized I can often suck at this.
In my head I punish myself, rolling around threats of not-enough money or those flowers on the kitchen table should really be five dollars in my savings account instead. Little treats I give to others. Not often myself. I brush off compliments and say, no, no, you first.
I prefer to be in the background. Anonymous.
It can be scary to be known. Sure, I want to be loved, but what if people don’t love me back?
What if I struggle to love myself too?
Earlier this weekend I found out another dear friend got a job at J.Crew Mercantile. Hmm, I thought, I’ve got some old gift cards burning holes in my stack – cards collecting dust, being saved for a sale or a time when I deserved to spend them.
Enter more punishing thoughts.
He needs pants more than me. I can wait another month. What if there is a better sale later?
“No”, my friend said firmly, “the time is now! Come visit me after work.”
“I deserve it” I tried to convince myself “plus everything is 50% off.”
In I walked, tentatively, into the beautiful shop. Realities of pending bills darting through my lizard brain, scratching and clawing at my ears, slithering you ought to leave.
Keep walking across the wood floor – straight to the sale rack.
My friend greeted me with a smile and open arms. She followed me around the store, making suggestions of new pants to try, a skirt she thought would look good. I asked her to bring me a t-shirt and a size bigger, or two.
I picked out a Spring outfit and felt waited upon and loved. Loved by a friend who kept telling me, ‘no, those pants really do look good’. Who encouraged me into a shop for some self-kindness and attention. Beauty found in feelings of admiration – for myself and the way my feet look in Spring sandals. Beauty in the reminder that it takes a little nudge to love myself and feel seen. That my needs matter too.
I was able to receive the gift of attention when I let myself be taken care of in a dressing room. On a Tuesday evening, in the back of J. Crew, she helped me feel beautiful too.