I have always been a very independent, self sufficient, non-delegating, if I don’t do it, it won’t get done right kind of woman.
Over the last year or two, I’ve been realizing that this whole “one woman island” thing is getting old and it’s time for me to evolve from it. I was raised by a single mom who was always juggling about 20 balls and I learned to do the same. I can multi task like no one’s business, am highly organized and check off my to do’s like a maniac. I do it all and I do it mainly by myself.
And I’m over it. It’s served me when I needed it but I don’t take pride anymore in being able to do it all on my own.
I’m learning to ask for support.
I’m learning to let others shoulder some of the load. (Interesting side note-Twice a month massages barely put a dent in my rock hard trap muscles. Asking other people to hold space for my emotional pain has softened them like nothing else I’ve ever tried.)
I’m learning to “widen my receiving channel” as a very wise friend suggested I do last fall. Receive the sun. Receive the wind. Receive the rain. Receive the birdsong. Receive hugs. Receive help.
Like all of us on this healing path, I felt like I was doing a pretty good job with this receptivity thing. Until, of COURSE, I get hit with The Perfect Opportunity to walk my talk. Yay!
My dad came to visit last weekend to help me move into my new healing space. He is an expert craftsman and handy man and it was a total lifesaver for me to have his help. I was cool with him putting up the curtain rods and the plant hooks and helping me build furniture. I started to get a little internally uncomfortable (the I can handle this myself mantra was playing loudly) when he wanted to pick up the tab on some office supplies.
The real kicker was when we went to move all of my stuff from my old office to my new office. Picture Manhattan during the morning commute with a mid size pickup truck. The first part was easy. I did my share of heavy lifting and packing and getting everything down to the car.
When we got to the new office space, there was commercial parking only. It was starting to rain. The car was going to get towed if someone didn’t sit in it. The someone with less physical strength. Me.
I had to let my dad move two freight elevators worth of furniture, file cabinets, artwork, and supplies out of the truck and into my new space on the 6th floor all by himself.
It was absolutely excruciating for me. Another person may have been able to kick back and relax, call a friend, send some texts, do some light Instagramming. Instead, my entire body was tensed with guilt and my self-talk was going nuts. “What do you think you are, some kind of princess? You’re just going to sit in the car and do nothing?! For an hour! Isn’t there something you could do? I hope he doesn’t feel taken advantage of. Maybe if you run and move as fast as you can you’ll be able to help at least a little bit before he gets a ticket! You’re being lazy. How can you just sit here???”
It was really painful to not be able to enjoy and take in the kindness. My dad didn’t care. He wasn’t guilt tripping me in the slightest. He was happy to have the opportunity to do dad stuff. He wanted to give. It was hurting me to fight allowing it in.
It took me about 45 minutes to drop in and understand why I was so uncomfortable. I did some breathing. I let my shoulders drop. I let myself fully receive the tenderness of his actions.
There had been many times in the past when I needed help and it wasn't there. I learned to take care of all of the things by myself because I had to. A coping skill like this is only helpful for a time, until it starts hurting us by building walls, keeping us isolated, and disconnected from the abundance that is available to us.
Most of us have to learn how to receive love in its many forms. It is much easier to give love than it is to feel worthy of taking it in. Feeling truly deserving can take a lifetime or an instant. It can be a choice that you make over and over every time you want to resist someone’s generosity or insist that you can do it by yourself.
When you can start to make this a regular practice, it opens up new channels for intimacy and connection. It makes the world feel like a place you can trust. It eases the hard edges.
Softening to support (even if you can handle it all perfectly well on your own!) allows people to have the gift of giving to you. When we block love because we feel undeserving, it denies the giver the delight of offering that sweetness. If receiving attention, affection, grace, witnessing, or help feels hard for you, I would love to see you experiment with saying yes to offers of assistance when you would normally do it yourself. Let me know how it goes!