I had such a wonderful weekend! I got to go to Texas to visit with one of my oldest and dearest friends. We went to a retreat dedicated to femininity and it was so rejuvenating and affirming. I laughed. I cried. I ate delicious food. I hung out with some lovely women. And I did it all in 80 and 70 degree weather! Now that may not seem like such a big deal to some of you. But for this Chicago born and raised girl, 70 and 80 degrees in February is like finding shelter after a raging storm. It’s sweet relief. So that was the whip cream and cherry (if I liked cherries) on an already decadent and rich, brownie, fudge and caramel sundae.
The friend I visited has been one of my dearest friends for about 20 years. We have been through so much together. There’s just something to be said for having friends like her. We haven’t seen one another in ages, but whenever we see one another we’re laughing and talking as if we have never missed a beat. I love meeting new people and making connections, but there’s just something about the ones you have with those who know you best. My friend took great care of me over the weekend. She told me to just bring myself and not worry about a thing. I have no idea why she told me not to worry, considering how well she knows me. Worry is what I do. It’s what I know. But I did my best to listen to her. My friend treated me to some of the best meals I’ve had in a long time, a massage, and the joy of being a passenger while she drove us to our destinations. When I tell you this was all like sweet manna!
However, as much as I enjoyed myself, I have to admit that it did bring up some issues for me. I didn’t have to contribute anything this weekend but myself. All I had to do was sit back and receive. Yet, that was incredibly difficult for me. I wanted to do something. I even felt guilty. It allowed me to recognize that I don’t know how to receive. I am so accustomed to giving to others, yet I am not as accustomed to being given to. And that’s just one more thing I need to release.
When I began examining this phenomenon of mine, I realized that it’s behavior that I learned from my parents. See, both of my parents are givers. Correction, they are over-givers. They give to everyone–even when not asked. They felt like it was their duty to take care of everyone. My dad was an especially generous over-giver. He had a wonderful heart, yet he had a habit of inserting himself where he wasn’t necessarily needed, nor asked to be. He would go out of his way to take care of others–which would result in his depleting himself and becoming resentful. He would resent that he wasn’t appreciated and that others didn’t go out of their way for him the way he did for them. I guess when it became too much, he created the idea that it was better to take care of yourself than to allow others to take care of you. Always have your own and always do for yourself. Don’t let anybody do anything for you. He taught me that and I accepted it. I believed as he taught me–it was a sign of strength to be self-sufficient and not allow anyone to do anything for you. I grew up watching that behavior and assumed it was healthy until I began to follow in his foot steps. I created the one-sided relationships. I began to experience the resentment. I resented being the go-to person for everyone. Yet, as much as I resented it, I didn’t stop my pattern. I kept doing the same thing in different relationships–romantic, platonic, associate level–expecting different results. Well, that’s the very definition of insanity.
Refusing to accept love, support, and any other good thing isn’t really strong though. It’s just something wounded people do to mask their fear of rejection. I learned this weekend that I am so accustomed to operating from a place of lack. I deplete myself. And then I seek ways to recharge myself. Iyanla Vanzant says, “My cup runneth over. What comes out of the cup is for y’all. What’s in the cup is mine.” I haven’t been living that way. I’ve been pouring my cup all the way out and giving everything that’s in my cup so that there’s nothing left for me to sip when I thirst.
What I didn’t realize until this weekend is that the reason that my father and I were such over-givers and the reason we don’t allow our cup to runneth over is because deep down we didn’t believe we could have symbiotic relationships. We didn’t believe we could have people look out for us, do for us, be there for us. And why did we believe this, you ask? Well, let me answer. It’s the thing that’s behind the answer to the question I was asked this weekend, which was What do you have to prove and who do you have to prove it to? My answer was simple and I didn’t even have to think about it. My answer was that I have to prove that I’m worthy to everyone. But the truth is, I don’t really need to prove it to everyone. Everyone is my scape goat so that I don’t have to face that my real aggressor is the woman in the mirror. So the truth is that I have to prove I’m worthy to myself. Worthy of what, you ask? Well, let me also answer that as well. Worthy of good things. Ahh . . . Now you see how all the dots connect! My issue of worthiness blocks me from accepting and receiving good things. No matter how much I want them, I will never have them or enjoy them until I understand one simple truth. I am worthy. I am worthy because I am. I don’t have to do anything, say anything, or be anything to be worthy. I also don’t have to prove it to myself. I just need to accept it.
I can’t thank my friend enough for taking such great care of me. She taught me a lot this weekend. She taught me how to sit my tail down and accept love, support, and a massage (can’t forget the massage). But she provided me with a wonderful lesson that if you allow, people will show up and love you. Good things will come to you. But you have to let them in. It’s now time for me to get on with the business of me pouring into my cup so that it can start running(eth) over.
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