Today’s word is “give.” Conveniently, today is also Giving Tuesday, an altruistic answer to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, two days named after shopping events.
I didn’t give anything today. I didn’t have much to give today, either in the way of money or in the way of emotional support. I drank too much tequila last night and woke up with a hang-graine (a slight hangover that sparked a migraine). I drank too much tequila yesterday because I was enjoying myself and tequila sometimes helps me ignore the mean voice inside my head. I had a hard time ignoring the mean voice inside my head because I hadn’t been taking my vitamins or giving myself enough “down” time after a long weekend of socializing and being “on.”
I know the primary intention behind this AdventWord is to encourage us to give of ourselves to others. We cannot survive as a society if we do not support each other and share our gifts. The world would be so much nicer if everyone took it upon themselves to genuinely care about others outside their family and social circle. Not just blithely donate canned goods once a year, but actually go work to end hunger in their community. Not just hand out a pair of socks to the homeless man on the corner, but actively work to end homelessness.
These are worthy goals.
But so often, we forget to give ourselves the care we need. We ignore the signs that we are neglecting our emotional or physical health because we’re too busy being there for someone else. Or because we don’t think we’re worthy. Or because of another of what are probably a million different reasons.
There’s a meme I’ve seen in social justice circles suggesting we care for ourselves as we would a toddler: feed yourself something healthy, make sure to get enough rest, take your medicine, go outside and move around. It might seem silly at first, but don’t let its simplicity fool you. It’s a vital reminder. The fact that it was created in the first place means someone felt it was important enough to spend the time creating a reminder. That it gets shared around frequently means it resonates with a lot more people.
The idea is that one cannot help others without first taking care of their own needs. It’s the old line from the flight safety spiel: put your own mask on before helping others with their masks. You cannot help someone else breathe if you can’t breathe yourself.
So, what I am giving on this day? I am giving myself a break. I am giving myself permission to feel sad or angry or disappointed in myself, but then I’m giving myself a healthy dose of forgiveness.
And while I’m at it, I’m giving myself the freedom to not know what I want to do with myself. I’m giving myself a chance to sit with uncertainty and listen to myself as I work through it. And, most importantly, I’m giving myself as much love and kindness I can muster, and permission to seek reinforcement from others.