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.