Kelp Beds off Pacific Coast, CA
I think our Western society has taught us to be too independent. I am no different. Truth is, as a girl, I was raised to be a boy. Strong, resourceful, capable, independent. Never show weakness. Never let them see you cry; only babies and girls cry. Such were the messages I received through childhood and early adulthood. I learned to not only hide all weakness but to deny it even to myself. I didn’t compete with women, but men instead because women I discounted in some bizarre way as not up to my standards. That shames me now! I denied a whole side to myself that was part of the beauty in who I was created to be.
We are taught that the opposite of independence is “neediness”...and neediness is to be avoided at all costs. Ironically, in being so independently strong, I cut myself off from receiving, which leaves a huge hole in my soul, and in turn exhibits itself as “neediness,” the very thing I sought to avoid! Instead, if I live in the present, both giving and receiving, then my soul is nourished on both counts. I used to think that God only showed His love to us through nature, but that’s only partly true. He shows us His love through the giving to us by others!! No wonder I’ve struggled with feeling loved by God for all of these years! I’ve held him at bay, refusing His love!!
A decade or so ago, my best male friend of many years told me, “Linnie, You’re an enigma to men-- You’re the strongest woman I’ve ever met. You’re also the most fragile.” Those words have haunted me for a decade now. I buried them deeply, either not ready to hear them, or not understanding and knowing what to do with them. Suddenly at 50 I get it!
50?!! It took me 50 years to get it?!! My first thought was how incredibly discouraging. Then I thought, “Thank GOD that I at least got it sometime! I’m not dead yet!” As a more recent dear male friend said to me, “Live like this is the FIRST day of the rest of your life, not the last.”
Wow. This gets to the heart of my loneliness in life up until recently. I’ve tended to isolate instead of being actively engaged in other’s lives as well. I want to give and give and give, and try and refuse any gifts given me. I’ve even gone so far as to not give in the past so I won’t have to receive in return!! Experiencing the giving hearts of new friends in my life has brought my mistake into sharp relief. I’m forced into a receiving end in accepting help to move (is this why I’ve had to move home and classrooms 3 times each in the last 3 years? It took me 6 times to “get it?!!!:) I’m also forced into the receiving end while learning Kung Fu, because I am the “new kid,” the novice, at least 3 belts below anyone else in the group. It’s humbling, but I’m realizing it’s exactly where I am supposed to be right now. I’m also forced into accepting “financial breaks” from people close to me just because they care, and my mind fights to reject their generosity, but my heart knows there’s something more going on here. Even the accepting of hugs and attention is a lesson for me in growth. I am starved for it, and yet I want to push it away, so I open myself to it and find myself feeling loved and less lonely. ---all the things I like to do for others but never allowed myself to receive. How can I truly love if I cannot receive I realize now.
I must honor my need for others. Just as it brings me great joy in reaching out and being there for others, I need to allow others that same kind of joy that comes from giving to me.
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