Learning to give

This one is over a month old….releasing, releasing…un-edited….

Unexpectedly up against what I did not know, or would not see, in myself. It all started with the unexpected outstretching of the hand of a stranger, a Facebook friend of a friend. And I find myself suddenly aware of how I have kept everyone at arms distance, all while claiming to be an open book.

It started with me feeling lonely and reaching out via text to several men in my life. They all answered back, but none offered to spend time with me or talk to me. I didn’t ask, just expressed a desire to connect. Then someone I “know” on Facebook messaged me and asked how I was doing, to which I honestly replied I was feeling a tad lonely. His reply, “Hold on for 5 minutes. Let’s chat,” which brought tears to my eyes. Here I was, communicating digitally with men I have experienced physically, in the flesh, and a complete stranger wants to connect with me, for REAL.  It didn’t take long of talking to him for me to not feel lonely anymore. Just knowing that someone wanted to reach back when I reached out was huge. To have that person actually reach back, IMMENSE. I try not to reach out from an “empty” place, but it happens sometimes. I wanted connection, and I got it from a completely unexpected place.

Fast forward a week, and he and I hung out during a hike and for food after. It was easy, friendly, and definitely real. Then, I got sick…really sick. He offered to come hang out with me and hold me, or make me soup, whatever I needed to feel comfortable. Again, I cried. Seriously, I don’t know that anyone other than my daughter and my parents have done that for me. Perhaps I didn’t allow it. Most people prefer to be alone when they are sick. I think it’s a preservation thing, isolating our germs so we don’t infect the masses. Either way, I let him in. I let myself be seen, witnessed, cared for and held when I could barely talk and couldn’t stop coughing. 

As I went into the next week after that, I found myself wanting to REALLY reach out to friends who I know are going through a tough time. The hard truth is I tend to let people know I am available, and I truly am, but I was always baffled that people wouldn’t take me up on it. And as I have gone through tough times, I have noticed that the random gifts of presence without me having to ask made the difference. The offer to talk, to hold me, to make dinner for me….these are the precious moments that I have not allowed myself to offer in my life.

A part of me knows that somehow I have isolated myself, but I can’t make sense of it yet. It’s messy offering yourself. It’s scary. You can be rejected, but if you are truly reaching out from a giving place, then rejection isn’t part of it. Giving is an art, for sure. Now that I am learning to receive, I am seeing what giving can really be.