We start our lives on the receiving end. When we were babies, we have nothing to contribute. All we do is to exist and be ourselves.
But without us doing anything, someone was there to provide for our needs. If someone wasn’t, you won’t be here reading this. It didn’t matter that you were a lot of work to take care of. You received attention, and others met your needs.
I long held this belief that I was not deserving of attention without earning it. I had to contribute, or be useful. I had to give first, and I was told that by default asking for help was a bad thing. (It’s built into the Japanese culture — we apologize every time when we have to “bother” someone)
It is not true. It is true that as we grow up we become more capable of taking care of ourselves and get perhaps less cute 😉. But do we get so crooked, so despicable, so grotesque that we become unlovable? I think not.
So we learned that we had to earn love and attention. We must work to justify our existence. And this existential fear weighs us down and make us put on layers that we didn’t need when we were born. Stuff like “I need to perform,” “I need to be helpful,” and “it’s bad to upset others.”
Recently I spent 5 days in bed, unable to do anything except meet my own basic needs. I was useless. And I realized that I was tormenting myself even more by thinking how I shouldn’t be useless, that I needed to get back on my feet ASAP.
I realized that I was not helping myself or anyone by believing that. I needed to be OK with just existing. I visualized that if I could become content, then I’d be able to spread that energy to those around me. That’s all I could do and that was enough.
I did show up in the midst and shared what was going on. I received a lot of moral support from kind people around me.
Did I really learn the lesson? Time will tell, but I feel a bit different. Lighter, and perhaps a bit easier to forgive myself.
I am not a baby any more. But perhaps I am regaining something I had when I was a baby. Authenticity. Being seen, and receiving without resisting. All things babies can’t help but be.
And that may be what makes us lovable.