How Can I ‘Give Back’ If I Never Received Anything?

Call me cantankerous and curmudgeonly and Scrooge-like but I just have a difficult time each year during the holidays when we are tasked with “giving back” and “paying it forward”. What if you never received anything to begin with? What if you have nothing left to give? What if you’ve given and given and given and tried to buy love your whole life to no avail?

I have had a history of being given nothing but heartache. My parents had one job, and that was to keep me safe. But I spent my entire childhood feeling unsafe, unsure, unwanted and unloved. I never knew what was around the corner. Another move? Another new school? Another divorce? Another suicide attempt? Another set of parents to live with? None of this kept me safe and none of this train wreck of a childhood ever gave me anything to “give back”.

I, however, broke that cycle and taught my children differently. We spent years giving back and paying it forward by in ways such as helping underprivileged youth; children of prisoners; paying for, preparing and serving meals prepared at homeless shelters; adopting families for Christmas. My kids understand about giving back and about paying it forward because I taught them. But I was self taught. I wanted to be loved. I wanted to be wanted. I wanted to be needed. So I fought for that by trying to give those who were raising me reasons to love me. I gave and gave and gave. God, I worked so hard to be worth receiving but it never really worked out.

So it is hard for me to constantly be bombarded by this giving season and requests for sharing our gifts, giving back, paying it forward. I’ve been sharing my gifts my whole life. I earned my gifts my own way and I certainly didn’t learn any of them from anyone else. I hope that I’ve taught my children that it’s kind and thoughtful to give back and pay it forward, but it’s not a requirement in order to be observed as a decent human being in this world. Again, call me Scrooge but I have already given back and paid it forward my entire life. And I continue to do so in order to role model for my children. But I don’t want anyone telling me what I should do and what I need to do. I did what I did to get through my own life. And I would never consider “giving back” or “paying forward” any aspect of my childhood. That would just be cruel.



2 thoughts on “How Can I ‘Give Back’ If I Never Received Anything?

  1. Dear Amy,
    Read this on FB. You ARE a giver Amy. It fills you up. I love to give too, for that reason. I’m painting gifts for Christmas, retired at the moment. I love to listen to music when I paint and was listening to Amy Winehouse from the set you gave me. Thanks for giving me that set and an extra CD taboot (sp)! Thank you for all that you have shared with me (remember you bought books for Gayna and me). Finally thank you for offering to knit a throw blanket for my humble abode!!!! I am so excited about it!!!! I hear what you say here… but I hope you are open to accepting my thanks for your gifts to me. When I see you sharing these homespun works of art blankets with so many, I am not surprised. I knew from our talks b4 I moved from Ohio that you so wanted to engage in a passionate project you loved, and you have. It seems to be part of your legacy. Forgive me for this tangent I go off on… I felt I needed to thank you and say that I think it’s almost like breathing for you–giving. Remember you treated Grama et al to lunch many times? Remember Grama’s toilet paper for years? Love you


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.