That’s what my yoga instructor said, right in the middle of class. I honestly wanted to move out of my pose, step off of my mat, and write it down. It’s okay to be a taker.
I had been a taker that week. And I had enjoyed it. It’s not my usual style, or at least not my past behavior usual style. I had always been the one who never asked for help, who always had to be strong, who never admitted they couldn’t do something (and especially not that they couldn’t do it alone). I had stomached through, hunkered down, struggled to get by, and toughed it all out. Not this time.
My town was hit hard by Winter Storm Nika (Nika deserved capital letters, based on the force with which she hit). Nika is a Greek goddess – the goddess who personified winning or victory. Boy did she claim victory over my town. Nearly 90% of the homes lost power, mine being one of them.
So I moved into my friend’s house, just down the block. It didn’t seem fair that there was electricity two houses down. Especially when mine had been running fine, we’d made it through the storm, and then PECO shut us down for some reason unbeknownst to me. It didn’t seem fair that the third house from mine seemed to have ALL their lights on, as if flaunting their electricity. But actually it was all extremely fair because I was extremely lucky. I could camp out near enough to my house that I could see it in the distance, but far enough away that I was warm and I could heat up water for my cups of tea. I was with a dear friend whom I love, and who I think was happy to have me there. We co-parented the five children in the house (two of hers, one of mine, and two from another home), and laughed that both our husbands were far away – hers in warm(er) Arizona and mine sipping wine in cafes in Paris.
I was having dinner with another friend this past week, and she mentioned that she had lost power for five days during Nika. She had moved her entire family to a friend’s home about an hour away. “I never ask for help,” she said. “It was the first time I’ve asked for help. I never ask for help.”
Why do we have such a hard time being takers? Why do we think it’s better to be givers, or to be nothing at all? People can’t give if we don’t take. And, as they say, it takes a village – a village of givers and takers.
I’ve learned a lot in the last few months. I’ve learned to be more of a taker. I’ve learned to admit when I need help. I’ve learned to ask for what I need and to acknowledge when I can’t go it alone. Or even when I simply don’t want to. I’ve learned that it’s actually a strength to sometimes allow myself to not be strong. And that it’s a weakness to think I have to tough things out on my own.
I think somehow we’re conditioned to give, give, and give some more, and to not ask for something, or anything, in return. And I think we need to learn to take as well. To let others care for us and comfort us. To let them shovel our snow for us (how I wish someone had today!) and run to the store for us. I love to give. And I’m learning to love to take.
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