“Megan, you don’t have to be a martyr.” Her words stirred an immediate emotional response at my farewell dinner 3 months ago, yet I shelved them – until now. My dear friend’s advice has been replaying in my mind over the last couple of weeks, particularly loudly as I’ve made the transition to my new home. Perhaps it was the dissonance butting up against my long-held beliefs, shaking me too closely to the core that encouraged me to sidestep the truth in the moment. Whatever the reason, it took this long to awaken to the wisdom of her words.
I’ve practiced martyrdom for a lifetime, modeling the example I was shown as a child. I’m good at playing the martyr. Being raised Catholic, life’s inevitable burdens were described as my fated crosses to bear. I learned early on to wear my trauma and hardships as badges of honor to prove my worthiness. As I stepped into the helping profession, this mindset allowed me to align easily with my clients, too often commiserating in our shared brokenness.
As nature and nurture forged me to be a giver, I’ve given until I am wholly and completely depleted. I was heartened that this Peace Corps service would be different.
I envisioned utilizing the healing modalities and training I’ve acquired in recent years to transform my typical burnout. Coupling healing with service, I thought would encourage me to keep my head above water and prevent any and all sadness, lethargy and disconnection. Honestly, I pictured rainbows and butterflies – all. the. time. Though I’m only three months into this 27-month commitment, I consistently remind myself that this is a marathon, not a sprint. There is still time for the ideal. Until then, however, the panacea may be even more simple.
I recognize that being a perpetual giver, and one who happens to often be stubbornly self-reliant, actually blocks the energy of receiving. I don’t allow others to give, preferring to muscle through struggles on my own. Many epiphanies arose the other day as I sat in my hilltop rondaval and realized the beautiful energy of receiving.
It is by learning to receive that I open myself up. It is by learning to receive that I allow others to bridge the gap and meet me where I stand or sit or kneel or crawl or cry. It is by learning to receive that I am vulnerable and expose my own limitations. It is by receiving, by allowing others to step up and step in, and extend a helping hand with which to pull me up, a strong shoulder upon which to cry, a listening ear with which I may be heard and an open heart by which I may be loved.
It is actually a gift to allow others to give.
I’ve fought tooth and nail to live my way, to give so much that I, perhaps, block the flow of receipt. I’ve been experiencing the energy of receiving in the countless acts of kindness I’ve been shown since arriving in South Africa. Fellow Peace Corps Volunteers have graciously leant their ears, hearts, creativity, limited funds, food and friendship in ways that have invited me to receive. Their generosity has lifted me up when I’ve felt so far down. My new host family has offered a home with an absolutely breathtaking view and home cooked meals that have filled more than my belly. New friends and colleagues have gifted me with warm clothes, blankets and companionship. (Yes, it gets surprisingly cold here in South Africa!) Friends have sent love letters and messages from abroad that have bolstered my spirits and encouraged my persistence. I’ve been reluctant to accept offers of care packages mostly out of guilt and not feeling worth of the trouble, expense or effort. However, these last few days have changed all that.
Something shifted for me this week – emotionally, physically, spiritually. I can’t name it. I can’t pinpoint its exact timing, but I have pivoted to a place where I am more open, more accepting and ready to receive.
I recognize that I no longer have to exist as a martyr. I am open to receiving abundance. I am worthy of receiving abundance. ♥
I invite you to grab your favorite journal and some quiet time and reflect on these prompts:
- How might you be blocking the energy of receiving?
- How can you clear your field and ready yourself to open to the energy of receiving?
- What might you be open to receive?
The content of this website is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government, the Peace Corps, or the South African Government.