To give, is better than to receive. A life lesson many of us became familiar with at a young age. It was a lesson and practice that was instilled in me very early on in childhood. “You are to give freely and always put the needs of others ahead of your own.” A statement that I heard regularly and was something that became an everyday practice, for me at least. It was a practice that would become a habit and a habit that would eventually become an obsession. Well maybe not…. well let me think, yup it became an obsession. One that would last about 50 years or so. Seems like a long time. A long time that seemed to pass by so very quickly. This post is about some of the things I learned on this part of my journey.
Giving can come at a cost, as we all know. Giving of what, you might ask? Giving how? In what context? The type of giving I am talking about giving of yourself. The practice of freely giving away love, care and understanding and compassion, or lending a physical helping hand, to those who would take and take until the tank is dry. Until a day comes when you find you have nothing left for yourself. It is the exhaustive type of giving that can become too much, long before you realize what is or has happened. The type of giving that could in fact cost you everything. Maybe even your life…
My start in life was very challenging to say the least and I simply did not have the tools that I needed to protect myself. I had safe havens that I could retreat to when possible. My grandparents always gave me a loving and safe space when they were available. I am thankful that I had them and my animal companions in my young life. I may not have made it in this world without them.
My immediate family taught me many valuable lessons with their ways and their philosophies on life and how to treat others. They taught me to do as they asked, regardless of how it made me feel, or, there would be consequences. The physical consequences were easier to heal from than the emotional ones I suffered. I was very young and was uneducated in the ways of mental warfare, at that time. It seemed that their feedback was negative no matter what I did. So, in trying to follow the one example that I truly valued, my Grandparents, I tried to fight back with kindness. If I’m being honest, I would say that there was the odd occasion when I was not so kind. These were actions that I would come to regret and paid the price for. I was far from perfect, but it would seem that those who mistreated me saw my attempts at kindness as weakness and as a result, I failed miserably in their ways of war.
It seems that for years, I have tried to give love, compassion and kindness and simply taken the cruel and abusive words and actions handed back to me by many. I think that this may have been because of my early and harsh teachings. I just held onto the hope that if I just keep trying harder and if I just give a little more, maybe it would be enough. It never was. I did my very best to treat them like I wanted to be treated. That’s the rule, right? So, if they in turn treat me the way they wanted to be treated, we truly were polar opposites. Because, I sure did not want to be treated that way. Not at all.. As a result of all this pushing and trying harder and harder, my health started to deteriorate. It was at little at a time at first and then slowly it progressed more and more, for some time. It is truly amazing what you can get used too. Eventually, and then drastically, it deteriorated to a point that now I am only a part of the person I used to be. The actions and words of these hurtful and abusive beings broke my heart. It started with little chips and small cracks, and now, there is literally a part of my heart that is dead and will never function again.. But that’s ok, I am tough and I will keep on going! They won’t beat me!!
In addition to my broken heart, I have many, many scars. The physical ones, some of which I will share in future posts, have been the easiest to heal from. The mental ones not so much. But I’m doing the work. I’m trying with all my might, everyday. Everyday I do the work in doing research and learning new skills that really seem to help me. This is why I want to share my findings with all of you. Maybe through sharing this information and the things I have learned, I or we can help someone else find their way through their darkness. As a result of some of the complications I have experienced and had to overcome, I now walk like I am wearing a large diaper. Not just a large diaper, but one that is full, if you get my meaning… This is because of a condition known as foot drop. It is neurological in nature and will not improve beyond the point that it is now. As a result of this condition, I now notice that people look at me weird because of the way I walk and maneuver, all the time. It hurts at times but that’s ok. My approach is to just make jokes about it and this seems to put them at ease. I can accept it, because there was a time when it was thought that I would never walk again. I can still see the look on my Doctor’s face when, during a follow up appointment, I told him I had recently been out snowshoeing with some friends. I can do it, you just watch me!!
I am all for giving to fellow beings that are in need and appreciate it. However, I have learned that one can easily give too much. Give to the point of complete depletion and there are some who will take all you are willing to give. They will take until there is nothing left but an empty shell of a person who has nothing left for their own care. There can sometimes be a fine line here and it can be hard to balance the act of giving to others and giving to yourself. I urge you to give to yourself first and foremost so that you feel whole, energized and are in good health before you look outward to those in need. You are Important! Your wants and needs are important! Be kind to yourself!!
In my lifetime, I have had the pleasure of knowing some of the most loving and caring beings on this earth. You know, the ones that just make you feel like nothing else matters in that moment except you and your feelings. My grandparents, my husband, a handful of really close friends, both human and animal, have done this for me. I am truly blessed to have had these experiences in my life and do my very best to return the same attention, love and kindness to them. Do any of you have these type of individuals in your life? Please show them your gratitude and let them know how important they are in your life! It will make a difference to them.
What I am desperately trying to do now is mend the part of my heart that can be fixed by helping others and staying true to who I am. My true self. I am still figuring that out but I’m getting there. I now know who I can turn to, in both the dark moments and the moments of great joy. It seems to me that knowing who you can share these times in your life with is a key factor in ones well being. Beware of recuring empty promises. Even if there were some great times with the abusive individuals in your life. Sometimes that’s what we do, we hold on to the good times, even if they were few and far between. We hold onto hope that the good times will become more frequent and things will improve. Hope is not reality, hope only lives in our minds. It is not a strategy and will not change fact. Remember the old saying, “a leopard does not change it spots”? If someone has repeatedly hurt you, regardless if it was mentally or physically, you must retreat to your safe and loving places and regroup. Regroup with those who lift you up. Those who will encourage and support you. Those who love and respect you for who and what you are. You are important! You matter!
Remembering and being realistic with my expectations is a key factor in what has helped me to survive. Develop a clear definition of what love is to you. Remember that time and life are precious and, for me, those who do not meet this criteria no longer have a place in my life. You have to have a safe place to share and be your true self.
These are some of the tools and techniques that have helped me. Maybe they could help you or someone you love.
With Love always,