The message “it is better to give than to receive” was instilled in me from the time I was born. The subtle underpinning of these words could be interpreted as meaning we are not allowed to receive what we want or even need. At least that’s how I internalized these words for many years.
This was my operating program: give my time and energy to pursuits and people wether I want to or not with the distorted thinking that if I give what’s expected I will receive acceptance, love and support. It’s a familiar story and pattern many of us become entrenched in. When I felt myself pulled to a new interest or passion and received feedback that my desire was not practical or didn’t fit into how those around me perceived me, I changed course and went back to giving out what I thought was expected of me. Because sacrifice is good right? Especially self-sacrifice.
However, what I was actually giving wasn’t what I thought I was giving. The belief in the mantra of giving until it hurts contributed to me latching onto yet another fantastical belief that included a hefty judgement on myself: I wasn’t allowed to receive what I wanted or even needed because somehow I didn’t deserve it. That way of thinking creates resentment and creates a hell of a fantasy world. I know because I was full of resentment and lived in an imaginary world where everyone was out to hurt me. The more resentful I felt and the more hurt I experienced, the more I gave. I wasn’t able to see the vicious cycle because I believed so strongly that my giving would get me what I so desperately needed.
Much of the giving many of us do at this time of year may not be coming from a place of giving simply because we enjoy giving. It may be to assuage guilt for having more than another. It may be to look good to those around us. I’ve done both. Seeing this is uncomfortable but it’s the truth.
Another message I grew up with was “the truth will set you free.” But first it will make you deeply uncomfortable especially when you have to see the parts of you that aren’t beautiful or as above-board as you want yourself and everyone else to believe.
Waking up to the reality that my generosity wasn’t genuine was painful. I saw the “support” given to friends when what I really needed was my own space, actually gave them the experience of feeling unsupported because they picked up on my dishonesty.
I used giving to avoid pain. The avoidance of pain is the causal point of addictive patterns and behaviour. The judgement of this unwillingness to face pain adds an even more devastating element to the cycle of internal and external abuse, keeping the the wheel of suffering turning endlessly.
Only the experience of true, unconditional love shifts everything – the feeling-it-in-your-bones experience of us looking at the reality of everything that hurts, the beliefs we hold onto so tight because we don’t know how to be empty, the emotions we bottle up because we get trained to. When we really see it all and accept the knowledge gained in the experience without identifying the experience as who we are, real growth happens and that indeed changes everything. Unconditional love is neutral in that it feels everything, allows it to pass through and fully accepts each aspect of life as a necessary teacher.
I don’t know how or why I got so lucky to know someone in my life who has shown me unconditional love no matter how much I judged, resisted, or disregarded her over the years that I’ve known her. But I am. Her name is Galalea Star.
When I first met her, I could barely string two sentences together about how I really felt. I was a confused, frightened little girl in a 30-something-year-old body. She sang to me and something in me relaxed. She started to help me open up from years of beliefs that kept me trapped in drama and endless attempts to control my life so that it fit the mental matrix I was given . Over four years I ran away from her in as many ways as I ran to her. We developed a friendship that provided the space I needed to heal from trauma.
At points I gave to her but it often came from a place of wanting to get something in return. She simply continued to give to me with no conditions attached and also with her own boundaries firmly in place. After a pressure cooker series of events, I suddenly saw the truth: I was giving to her because I wanted something in return, not simply because I was inspired to. I was attempting to pull her into my patterns of pressure rather than allowing her to move with life.
The day after I realized the truth and felt it rip through my entire body, she shared it aloud. A friend of mine once said, “Don’t be sorry, just change.” In an instant I felt my whole being change and I no longer had the desire to meekly say “sorry” without really understanding the depth of the situation. Being in the presence of someone who truly cares about you without expecting you to conform to their universe will automatically give you what you need to be yourself. I told the truth and a whole new path of experience opened up immediately as we talked.
Seeing the causal point of my giving and what I was really giving in the context of our friendship has been one of the most heart-opening experiences of my life. It didn’t feel good just as open-heart surgery without anesthetic wouldn’t feel good. But the energy of that realization did pass through. There’s no going back once the transplant is complete and the old heart is gone.
The truth actually does set us free – free from the belief that we have to give to get anything back in return. It leaves us free to give because something in us opens and longs to give, knowing that the natural order of life returns to us what we need, just not necessarily from the point at where we gave or from the person we gave to. It leaves us grounded in the knowledge there actually is an abundance of love we just forgot about because we got clouded by belief rather than reality.
Give only if it’s within you to give. Otherwise you’re not giving what you think you’re giving. You also close yourself off from receiving what you’re really longing for.