A Collective of memoirs by J.S. about Trauma + Mental Health + Abuse + Healing.
#christmas #trauma #gifts #guilt #anxiety #healing
Receiving gifts has always been a huge source of ANXIETY for me, wrapped up neatly in a bow made of satin ribbon.
I grew up around abuse. Abusive parents. Abusive family members. Abusive lovers.
Every time I got a gift growing up, from my parents, it was a GUILT gift.
My mother would get me a designer bag or clothing when she had a drunk episode that she actually remembered. It was put on a credit card because we couldn't afford things like that.
I knew we were in debt and struggling so that GUILT was really multiplied every time a coach or baby phat tag appeared beneath the tissue paper. And my heart would sink.
When I started dating, my boyfriend did the same thing. For every girl he slyly flirted with or did something with, I'd get a cute little gift.
For our first Valentine's Day, I walked into his living room after school to find a heart balloon and statue for me. I remember as I unwrapped it, he looked awkward and nearly as surprised as I was when I took my gift out.
His mom had gotten it for me. From him. Because he asked her to. Because he did not care to.
I knew this much later, once he threw every task at her infront of me because those were the things he did not feel like doing. And he would say things like "she doesn't mind and she is so much better at it".
The thing was, he was emotionally abusive and lied constantly about everything. He manipulated people into doing things for him because he did not want to do them.
Shopping for me and showing me affection were the same in his mind. Both were too minuscule for his attention or time.
I had many boyfriends not ever get me anything because they were "too broke" but would get themselves specifically expensive items for holidays or just whenever.
Specifically my ex of a few years, whom I dated as a single mother of a little girl, would have me pay for most things even though I was on my own paying for my rent/tuition/books/food/child and he lived at home with his parents. When it came time for gifts, he would also ask his mother for assistance.
One holiday i got something so special from him. Something i still have and cherish. The one item I did not smash or sell after he broke my heart. A trinity irish necklace. One I had picked out and PUSHED for months for him to get me. Something I wanted so badly to be done on his will but was finally done because of mine.
Gifts and money were never something I idolized also because I was poor. As a baby born into poverty and then a teen mom who went off into poverty while raising a kid myself, I often could not afford to get people things.
For my own child, I made gifts. I would even put some birthday gifts into the closet before being opened and give them to her for christmas to spread out the stash from what people got her.
But we got by.
I got by many years without having to spend a lot.
Whenever people I knew, like a boss or a friend, got me gifts I felt SO MUCH GUILT.
I would immediately be scanning the things and calculating in my head a guess of what they spent to question if I DESERVED IT.
I felt the same exact way about hand me downs though. Anything given to me that was of worth to someone, made me feel like I was not worth receiving it.
Mostly I'd end up thinking "now what can I sell or do to equal that value for them?" Or "how can I pay them back."
I felt like I owed everyone who gave me anything at all, especially because they really had no idea how much I needed it.
I was so afraid to ask for help or tell anyone my needs for so long. I felt that way as a single mother and I still feel that way.
I feel shame in needing but I feel even more shame when I get provided for.
This is a HUGE BLOCK in my ability to attract money and success. In my ability to be approached by things I need. But I am now only gaining that awareness of how my self worth and anxiety deprived me of so much.
I would be at a loss of words too when I got handed an item or food or money by someone.
Fumbling over my words in thank yous and trying to hide my embarrassment.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, really.
Sometimes I would blurt it out. "Now what can I do for you?"
I'd like to say it was out of consideration and kindness as most people took it.
But that was anxiety speaking.
PLEASE, LET ME MAKE IT EVEN.
My nervous brow would wrinkle up and my heart would be pounding.
Until I got a response that changed everything.
"Be happy in receiving. I just want you to feel joy".
Happy? They wanted me to just feel happy?
No exchange? No guilt? No shame?
No "Sorry I fucked up, here's a gift I didnt even pick out with thought" ----
No "you thought I forgot didn't you? (Because I did but someone else rescued me)."
No "I know what I did but I'd rather you picture me as a good person so here is this thing."
I realized of course that good people could give me things out of just kindness but I still felt indebted or guilty because of those triggers.
Until I pictured someone feeling JOY because they provided me with JOY.
And suddenly it made me feel so good. So loved. So cared for.
I realized that THIS was what we were supposed to feel when we gave something out to someone.
This year I have learned I should express my emotions and gratitude back to the person. That I should let them know when they gave me something what it made me FEEL.
NO MATTER WHAT I WAS GIVEN, I JUST FELT PURE JOY AND LOVE.
And when I would let them know how I feel, it would be bringing them joy that they did that for someone.
That was the exchange.
The magic of giving and receiving.
I have been trying to do some things different around the holidays since figuring out the problems my anxiety caused.
☆ Instead of worrying I won't have the money to GIVE someone something, I think to myself "I will find a way to give them joy".
☆ Instead of jumping to "this was given out of guilt" I quickly remember how I've set boundaries and removed the people from my life who did bad things. So it is no longer even a rational thought that someone could be treating me wrong.
☆Instead of calculating the value of the thing, to see if I can give back in equal or fair measure ----> I think, "what would bring that person joy?" It no longer matters what the price tag is, if it is an action or experience, or even a hand me down. If it is something someone needed or wanted in their life and it would bring them joy, then it is priceless.
☆Instead of spitting out thank yous like a broken toy, I purposefully say why I am thankful and what the giving has brought to me. What it has made me feel. I want them to know what I am experiencing from their generosity and heart.
☆Instead of allowing frustration and panic into my heart, I allow myself to cry tears of joy and thank the universe out loud for my blessed friends/family.
☆Instead of keeping my needs a secret out of shame, I tell the universe what I need out loud with excitement. I am in need of many things but that should not bring me guilt or shame. People need things. Heck. People want things.
☆Instead of trying to calculate my worth, I tell myself I am worthy. I am worthy. I am worthy of love and joy. I am worthy of the things I want. I am worthy of the things I need. I am worthy of receiving.
☆Instead of worrying about what people will think of me for telling my truths, I remember that silent sufferers around me feel SEEN when I speak up.
So I speak up. I share my feelings, my fears and my desires.
And the concept of gifts/giving has grown.
From materials and money to emotions and states of mind.
I now want to gift out people LOVE AND JOY through my words. Through my validations of experiences they have.
I also think it is a gift to have REAL friends who care. Friends who want to give and receive out of love and not status or to show off.
It is a gift to have REAL, RAW, AUTHENTIC people in our lives to share our ups and downs with. Our dreams and goals with. Just being in relationships like that are enough without giving anything between one another to show we care.
I've made this discovery now that I have beautiful friendships in my life that bring me so much joy. I want nothing more than their friendships. So I cannot believe when I receive gifts or support or help with something. To be so lucky and so cared for by other people is something I am trying to get used to.
I am relearning how to give and receive because I was raised in trauma but that does not mean it is all I will ever know.
I am replacing anxiety with JOY, as a healing tool for all areas of my life.
I realize that abundance is a state of mind and I wish to gift everyone the ability to tap into it through believing they are worthy of whatever their heart desires.
YOU are worthy of receiving.
It does not have to be an uncomfortable thing.
In fact, you do not need to search for what to do for them beyond just thinking of how you can pass on the concept of giving JOY to their lives.
And you can do something anonymously this Holiday season just to send some joy out into the world. ♡
J.S. Jaded Savior
Content mention of Rape, Abuse, Neglect, Addictions, Mental Illness, Kidnap, Molestation, Child abuse, Teen Pregnancy, Abortion, birth, body image, gender/identity dysphoria, sexuality, personal trauma, domestic violence and other extremely personal stories. Please practice caution. I am not a licensed physician or mental health professional. No medical prescribing is provided on this site, Only personal insights, experience stories, and advice; All stories published have had prior authorization. Questions? Contact Jean at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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