A tricky thing for semi-wild/semi-tame creatures like me is letting people in. I wasn’t socialised that way, and for all of my longings for lots of friends and a connected network… well, it’s a two-way street isn’t it?
You see, it’s not just about give and take. It’s that you have to be okay with receiving: accepting what’s offered, free of charge.
Like many people, I had to learn that generosity helps keep the world turning. Our culture is one of consumption and usage and fulfilling our needs. Our own personal needs, that is. Not all families teach their kids about generosity to those outside their family. Mine sure didn’t.
So I’ll admit it: I used to be stingy. For example, many years ago, I used to feel hard done by if I was out for dinner with a bunch of people and my meal cost less than everyone else’s and yet I was expected to pay the same amount as others. I haven’t been that way for a long time now. I give away money, food, clothes and I’ll pick up the dinner tab for me and my friends if I can afford to.
My yoga studies and being around my Guru changed my self-centered feelings of lack, into generosity. Through demonstrations of compassion, sharing, love and giving, thankfully I learned that abundance comes from sharing what you have.
But allowing others to be of service to me (when I’m not paying for it) is something I’m still learning.
A little while ago I asked the universe for a helping hand, because thanks to Hashimoto’s I struggle like a mo-fo with my energy levels sometimes.
It can be exceptionally difficult to get out of bed, but not in an: oh it’s Monday and I don’t wanna go to work, kind of way. What I mean is that it’s physically difficult because I’m exhausted down to my bones.
This means things like taking the rubbish out, doing the dishes, cooking meals and so on, are challenging.
Even though I asked for help somewhat whimsically, I knew I was asking for something I genuinely need. I’d no idea where it’d come from or even if it would.
But it did!!
Little did I realise it’d be my neighbour. I live at on the ground floor at the back of a deep block of apartments. She lives at the front.
By some strange twist in my itinerant lifestyle, I’ve been living in the same apartment for over 2½ years now. For me, that’s seriously some kind of personal best. It’s possibly the longest I’ve lived in one place since I was eighteen.
Anyway, my neighbour and I have little chats whenever we happen to see each other. She has a little girl, and is a stay-at-home mum with a somewhat distant de-facto husband. For ages, I couldn’t remember her name even though she’d introduced herself when I moved in (thanks, PTSD short-term memory failure).
Our friendship has grown organically. At first we swapped pleasantries, then we spoke of her little girl and my nieces. Of job frustrations, and eventually, more personal things. Her relationship issues. My history of PTSD and depression. All while hanging out the washing or talking over her (ground floor) balcony etc.
Then came the little favours. She picked up Miss Cleo cat from the vet after her surgery last year. I’ve looked after her beautiful sweet grey boy cat and she’s fed and dispensed pats to Miss Cleo in my absence.
And so on. We’ve swapped thank you gifts, but we’ve never really taken it any further than that.
Until she noticed me limping around (both times) with my calf muscle tear and asked what was going on. I told her a bit, but as she was on the phone we said we’d talk another time.
Saturday of last week, I’d just come home from my yoga class and was getting ready for my thyroid ultrasound (which is NOT fun btw). She came out of her apartment and I explained about Hashimoto’s and the limping and so on.
I was already feeling pretty emotional, but then she tipped me over. Well if I’m cooking, I’ll put some aside for you if you like. It’s no trouble.
Sobs. This is more than my own parents have offered to do for me. Then she adds, If you need to talk, if you’re feeling really bad or need help with anything, just let me know.
We hug and I tell her how grateful I am for her support. Monday night, she sends me a text message to let me know that dinner will be waiting when I get home. I’m blown away by her kindness and even more so when in response to my gratitude, she texts back: You deserve a helping hand.
Whoah. I do?
The dinner is really tasty. Butter chicken, rice and vegetables.
I’m still sitting with this idea however, that someone thinks I deserve support. Accepting and receiving care is humbling for me. I guess I’m just not used to it.
But I’m realising that in order to be an effective giver of services to others, I also need to know what it feels like to receive.
I’ll tell you what it feels like. A freakin’ miracle, that’s what.