The Good Samaritan didn’t say, after helping that guy, “Ok, now you owe me.”
I like to imagine that if he did, he looked like Clint Eastwood, squinting and sweating mud, with a rolled cigar-ette sticking to his lip, standing beside the fellow he helped, but looking off into the sunset because people who receive help don’t deserve eye contact. Except for one flick of a glare just before the long silence that follows him as he walks away.
I’m learning to ask for what I need and want, learning to take up space, and I’m learning that I used to instantly feel like I owed someone if they helped me.
Someone recently gave me a Kit Kat bar and the whole time I was eating it, I was trying to figure out how to give her two fancy chocolates that would cost about $16. This would involve driving to a special store, paying for parking, using my foot and back, both of which I’m healing in physical therapy, and having $16. It also would involve her having some of the most orgasmic chocolates a person can ever experience eating. That feels like a nice thing to do for someone. Everyone loves chocolates, and orgasms. But I’m not working right now so that I can heal. So I don’t have $16 for chocolates and thinking about how to repay her, which I can’t do right now anyway, took me out of the moment of enjoying eating the chocolate and feeling my hunger dissipate.
Why couldn’t I want to give her a Kit Kat bar in return? If I was insistent on giving something in return, why not give myself permission to give an equal gift instead of one sixteen times greater? This was all so strange because she had simply given me a chocolate bar that she wasn’t interested in eating and it was a simple action for her. And here I was triggered into anxiety about the whole thing, feeling pressure to give her a chocolate orgasm.
I’d like to say that I’m anti-using-orgasms-as-currency. Currency orgasms are akin to slavery. Some things should always be free and never bartered or traded. That Kit Kat made me forget how I feel about slavery. I really like chocolate.
Beyond the chocolate amnesia, I passionately didn’t want her to think I was only talking to her because I wanted something from her. I’d rather sit there, hungry, and see she isn’t eating the food, but know she knows she’s valued to me in an honest way.
And I wanted to repay her because that’s how deeply I felt the feeling of gratitude for that each layer of that crispy, crack-like Kit Kat bar.
In the moment, I was aware that my thoughts were irrational and extreme and I needed to just eat the fucking candy bar. But it wasn’t until much later when I had stopped judging the thoughts as ridiculous that I had realizations about them.
If I’m always worried about repaying during the time I am receiving anything, how will I ever enjoy receiving? (This is actually very applicable to orgasms, too.) And if I’m not truly experiencing receiving, what exactly am I repaying?
I’m learning that I don’t owe her. Now. Or Later. (That’s not a candy joke.) I used to think, “When I’m physically healed, I’ll repay this person.” But there are times in life when I need help and it will take all that I have just to get better. All of my energy is needed for me in these moments, plus some energy from someone else. And I thought today, “Well, maybe that’s because I won’t repay that specific person in a balanced way. Maybe I’ll end up repaying someone else later who is in that same needing place. And they, in turn, won’t repay me, but will also Pay It Forward,” as they say.
But I think that if I’m doing something nice for someone because I owe a debt to someone else, I’m not doing that nice thing because I want to be nice. I’d be doing it because I have to pay it back. This is the first time I noticed “Pay It Forward” sounds very similar to “Pay It Back,” only because the word “pay” is in both of them.
I feel good wrapping my head around the idea that I won’t set the intention to pay back those gifts that are given to me while I’m not whole, to the person who gave them to me or to another person. Sometimes people are deficient and need from a depleted place. Sometimes I’m that person. While I’m not whole, the stress of worrying about how to repay takes me away from becoming whole again. Which also takes away from my ability to repay them.
It wasn’t until I was trying to give this post a title that I realized that these people are just trying to give me a gift! Ha! It took me this long to realize that I’m trying to repay something that doesn’t need to be repaid. It’s a gift. That’s what a gift is. A loan needs to be repaid. A gift doesn’t. So not only am I worried about something that I can’t do while I’m hurt, it’s in regards to something that doesn’t need to be repaid in the first place. Sigh.
Whew, my little brain gets a big work out with all this unnecessary worrying all the time. My body may be weak, but my mind is overly muscular. I’m working on balancing that muscle ratio.
My fear of needing and wanting results in my never allowing myself to receive because then I would be someone who may need or want. I’m realizing I usually feel honest, wild gratitude for even the tiniest gift. I’ll say thank you with a heart full of hummingbirds. But I will sometimes, accidentally, not say Thank You for big gifts that I needed or for little gifts or words by which I feel overwhelmed. This happens because I’ll spend days thinking about it and dreaming of ways I could repay them equally. Or ways I could express exactly what it meant to me. Sadly, the days can add up to never simply saying Thank You. I usually recognize that my perfectionist hope of perfectly giving them credit for what they did gets in the way of taking action. But I hadn’t realized that subconsciously I felt I didn’t deserve it. And that not saying anything feels better than actually saying Thank You because that would mean I am accepting the idea of needing and wanting. And, up until last month, that idea freaked me out.
Also, if someone says Thank You to me, I rarely say You’re Welcome because I’m uncomfortable even receiving thanks. I never consciously noticed these things before. But I see them clear as day now. Which is weird because who has ever said, “I see day.” But I see them nonetheless.
I finally learned why I’m scared to want and need and it comes from a dark, sad place in my past. My little kid self is still trying to protect me from that old place. Humans are wired to remember where we see a bear in the woods so we don’t go that way again and we have a better chance of not getting eaten. So it’s easy for me to forgive myself for not wanting to recreate a bear situation. It was violently difficult to see that I don’t need to have this fear anymore. It was relevant when I was little, but I don’t have to worry about that specific bear anymore. Figuring this out recently let me feel grateful to my little self for looking out for me, which wasn’t something I expected to happen and it was nice. It was also a huge release to let my big self understand that I don’t have to make decisions from a place of fear that I never even realized I was feeling.
And, in regards to paying back that ol’ Good Samaritan, if I help the giver or others later, and a balance of giving is accidentally created, it will be a beautiful thing. But it will be coming from an honest, organic, strong, grounded, tranquilly motivated, maybe even orgasmic place, a place based on the truth of how capable I am in the present moment, not a place of guilt, debt, or Owing It Forward.