We are taught at a very young age that sharing is a wonderful thing. Sharing our love, our possessions, our time. Our children sing rhymes about it (I can still do a mean sing-a-long with Barney if I have to), we reinforce the concept between siblings and friends, and churches/charitable organizations wouldn’t be able to survive without it. To quote Martha Stewart…it’s a good thing.
I have always loved the concept of sharing. It’s how I show love and nurture others. I will give you my last dime and the food off my plate if I think you need it more than I do…and sometimes just because you think you need it more than I do. I’m the woman who gives money to those guys on the street with the signs, or the woman and child outside the store with a sign, or a guy sitting at a table in a fast food restaurant with a cup of coffee who looks like he’s run out of hope without a sign. I’m the woman who always has at least two extra people at the dinner table every night or someone sleeping in an extra bed because they are in town for business and I thought they’d prefer to sleep in a home rather than a hotel.
I give my time. I will stay up till all hours of the morning making something if the kids need it or go running out in the middle of the night to get poster board for a project due tomorrow. I will let you volunteer me for anything (grudgingly but I always end up loving it). I will show up at your door in a skinny minute if you call and need me to do something for you.
I’m also the woman to whom everyone bares their soul. I carry around more secrets in my pea brain than most people have in a lifetime. I’ve counseled and advised, listened and comforted, cried and laughed with friends and acquaitences millions of times over the years I’ve been on the planet. And I’ve loved every one of those people and every one of those conversations.
Bottom line is – there is nothing I won’t give to help my friends and family and very little I won’t give to help everyone else. It’s my “thing”. I’m not tooting my own horn here, just stating some facts. It’s how I roll.
Here’s my question (to myself of course)…why can someone who gives like this not give to herself and, more importantly, why can’t she let anyone give to her?
Through this process of self-realization that I’ve been on since getting sober, this is the one thing that stumps me every time. Why can’t I just ask for, and really open my heart to help from others? I know it makes me feel good to help others, why can’t I let others feel that way by helping me? Quite a paradox wouldn’t you say?
Now I HAVE tried to do this over the years. I have asked for help from some friends…asked them to listen, asked them to advise, etc….but never with very good results. Some seem shocked that the person they go to for help now needs it and they don’t know what to say. Some are shocked when I tell my story as a backdrop to why I need the help and, not having any shared experiences, just can’t relate. Some offer help but it’s just on the surface and really not helpful at all when I examine it.
During my soul searching efforts of late, I have come to the conclusion that it’s not them…it’s me. (I know right! I was as shocked as you are right now!) My heart is so tightly shut that it can’t be penetrated and thereby be soothed. My husband comes as close as anyone can get and even he hasn’t been able to break through the armour completely. (But at least after 29 years he’s smart enough to know that eventually I’ll be okay and that all he really has to do to help is to listen. Have I mentioned that he’s a saint?) And I’m so used to going into “mommy mode” (even before I had kids – I was born 30) that it’s hard to step back and let myself be nurtured and loved. Hard for me to let other people give that to me.
So tonight I’m going to sit down with a woman who may become my sponsor in AA. We’re going to talk and she’s going to guide me through the process of recovery. My greatest hope is that when I come out on the other side, I am able to at least do a little nuturing for myself. And then we’ll work on letting other people do some. Hey! Baby steps people…baby steps…
I love you,You love me,We’re a great big family,With a great big hug and a kiss from me to you,Won’t you say you love me too… ~Barney