Recently, I was in a car accident. And in dealing with the aftermath of this incident, I found myself crying frequently. At first, I cried because I felt incompetent. The accident was, in the end, my fault. And I felt that I had to be a derelict driver or it wouldn’t have happened. Even though I know that I’m a good driver, still I felt like Canada’s Worst Driver. Then I cried because I had hurt someone – inconvenienced them and scared them. And I have spent my life striving not to hurt anyone.
When I called my sister once I got back home that evening, she told me several times that she knows me to be a generous person – someone who gives of her time and resources to help others. And she told me that, even as I am generous with others, I am not generous with myself – I do not give myself a break, I do not give myself the benefit of the doubt, I expect myself to always be perfect.
Her words, while great to hear, gave me pause.
I’ve never seen myself as a generous person. I always felt that I’ve withheld and hoarded my emotions from others, that I haven’t given of myself freely to help others. I’ve believed that I’ve looked to others to pay my way, make things easy for me, look after me. I’ve believed myself to be selfish – always putting myself first. And I know that I’ve held selfish as a dirty word – something bad, an anathema.
I know that, in my life, it’s always been easier to think back to unhappy or dark memories and, in recalling them, to replay the memory and judge myself.
What did I say that I shouldn’t have said? What didn’t I say that I should have? What did I do that I shouldn’t have done? What didn’t I do that I should have? Each time that I’ve replayed these memories in my mind’s eye, I know that my sense of my self as a loving, caring and generous person has been diminished a little bit more until I’ve come to believe that I am none of these things.
In talking with my sister, I understood that I’ve never allowed myself to celebrate my connection with others. I’ve never given myself permission to own that I am a giving person who gives without expecting recognition or recompense, someone who sees a need and chooses to respond to that need without waiting to be asked.
I’ve had the chance since the accident to think about my life and all the times when I’ve shared mySelf with others.
I’ve thought about all the times as a daughter, a sister, a coach, an educator, and a friend when I’ve enriched the lives of others and, in being connected with them, have lightened their lives. And as I’ve thought about and brought back these memories, I’ve been amazed at the shear number of them. It’s pretty stunning. And I can now own proudly and out loud that my belief that I am not a generous person and have never been one is just so much bullshit! Makes me laugh to own this.
I wonder if it’s human nature to dwell on unhappy memories and replay them over and over in an effort to try and make the outcome different – one where we do things differently and everything works out okay? If that’s the case, then I know that I have to cut it out and stop doing that.
I’m choosing to start anew,
to replay my happy memories, to celebrate that the I AM that I am is a loving, caring, and generous person who strives to create the world in which I choose to live.
May we all make the choice to celebrate ourSelves and to enjoy our connection with others.