I lack serenity

12 03 2008

This is something that has bothered me for a long time.

I have all the ingredients for it. I don’t lack anything. There’s just something that won’t let me rest.

Recently, I’ve started one of my periodic delves into my early life. The older I get, the more sure I become that in order to move on, and perhaps transcend this plane, you have to address the habitual problems you face and syndromes you fall into. You’ve got to break the thoughtless instinctual chain of action that ensues when you just bumble along, reacting in the way you’ve always reacted to any given problem.

I was once the subject of a palm reading; the reader told me I was in one of my final lives before going on, and I didn’t feel the need to prove myself or make any far-reaching alterations in the way I lived. I do not think this is true.

You’re made up of the sum of your actions, and the sum of the actions others performed upon you, particularly when you’re too young to act back.

As a strong, knowlegable woman with an active spiritual life, I used to think I had the raw materials for wisdom and serenity at my fingertips, and all that was required was to combine them. I no longer feel sure of this.

Many people aren’t interested in what has gone before- they’re ruthlessly pragmatic, living in the now, and they don’t admit of early influence. Lucky them!

Recently a concerned friend has told me that she thinks I ‘give’ too much; we’re going to talk more about what this means. For the moment, I’m restricting myself to thinking about what kind of pressure a mismatch between giving and taking can put on a life. Actually, it doesn’t look all that healthy.

I need to pray about this.

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6 responses

12 03 2008
fox

I am all too familiar with the battle of giving and taking. In my life, I have been accused of “giving too much” as well as being selfish. From my perspective, there really is no “too much” when it comes to giving and when it comes to being selfish… well that is a whole other beast that really requires some pretty deep looking at what truly is selfish and what is just self care.

Sending some positive thoughts and energy your way to help you through this time!

12 03 2008
The Green Witch

I don’t think ‘too much’ is possible either- I think my friend thinks I’m not being selfish enough!!! 😉

Thank you so much for your good wishes – they mean a lot.

12 03 2008
The Shepton Witch

Yes, there is too much when it comes to giving! There is a certain type of upbringing that I suspect all three of us have been through, where you are indoctrinated with the idea that you must give of yourself, unstintingly, without thought for yourself and without limit. Is that good or healthy? I’d humbly suggest not.

My experience was an interesting one. My father was a ‘giver’ and my mother a ‘taker’, she still is. Both loved me dearly, but used emotional manipulation, in various guises, to manage me as a child. One that they tried on my son only once was saying “we won’t love you if you are naughty”; I soon stopped that! Then, at the tender age of nine, I was handed over to Dominican nuns and languished in Stalag Luft 19 with evil penguins as warders and a regime of old fashioned Catholicism, sacrifice, self-flagellation and denial as a backdrop.

I am fifty years old and it has taken me a long time to shed the conditioning of childhood; I’m sure there are still things that affect me and that I shall never be entirely rid of it, but I have learned that it is ok to say “No” to things that make me uncomfortable, that I can’t reasonably do and that perhaps I just don’t feel like doing.

Making that change has had a cost. It is one of the things that has helped estrange my mother and I. When my father died, I think she just thought that instead of taking from him, she could just transfer her demands on to my sister and I. Actually, I’m not sure she even thought about it, as that would require introspection. Shockingly, for her, I was not willing to take on some of the expectations she had.

My sister went through the same system I did, but rather than the esoteric and ‘interesting’ path I followed, my sister married a nice Catholic boy, had lots of children and kept on giving. She is now a slave to my mother and the more she gives, the more my mother takes. I have talked to my sister, but it is something she has to understand and deal with for herself.

There are some lumps and bumps on the road to withdrawing the ‘ever open door’ the ‘ever giving hand’ and the ‘ever available shoulder/ear/helping hand’ but there are rewards and feeling a sense of balance within oneself and within the world you inhabit is worth rubies. Not least is the dawning understanding that you, and what you are and what you give, has value. To give it away randomly, unstintingly and without thought for yourself, devalues you and your gift. To put it another way: when my son is given a posh present, he likes and values it, but not nearly as much as having to save up for and wait for the same thing, earned by his own hand. 🙂

12 03 2008
fox

I completely agree with you on the fact that the limits to giving are your personal limits. It is the idea that giving within those limits (ie – giving all you can without harm to yourself) can be too much that I was talking about. As recent experiences have taught me, giving in a complete and free regard without a care as to how that giving affected me is not a healthy way to be. It can be destructive, not just to the self, but to those that you are allowing to take beyond your limits.

Giving, up to your personal limits, though, can be a very rewarding experience. I have discovered that finding the balance of allowing my giving nature free reign and self care has brought so many rewards to my life.

12 03 2008
The Shepton Witch

You’re right Fox. Giving can be such a pleasure and often much more fun than receiving, that’s certainly my experience (though don’t tell Kim or he might stop treating me to all sorts of wonderful goodies!). It is about finding the balance and knowing when you need to stop and not give; it’s a bit like walking a tightrope. The beginning of the journey usually gives us a few wobbles too far on one direction or the other, but nothing worth learning is all that easy. 😀

12 03 2008
The Green Witch

I just reckon I don’t have a clear enough idea of where my personal limits are. Having had a similar upbringing to Mereth, I think my selfishometer needs recalibrating – I feel ‘selfish’ if I do anything for myself. If there’s anything to be done for others, particularly in my household, I can’t rest or work on my own behalf.

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