It’s my birthday.
Recently, I went over to my boyfriend’s apartment. It had been a long week for him and he had recently had a minor surgery, so understandably things were untidy. There were a lot of dishes to be done, a couple of loads of laundry to do. An ongoing conversation between us is about how uncomfortable he feels receiving care and pleasure from others. So when I got to work washing his dishes and doing his laundry, it wasn’t long before I heard some water running and some scrubbing sounds coming from the bathroom.
He was cleaning his shower. Because even though we had talked about me coming over and taking care of him, receiving that care was just too uncomfortable. He didn’t want to sit still while I was busying myself taking care of him. Even though he had expressed a wish to be taken care of, when it actually came time to receive, receiving was difficult. He squirmed away from the discomfort of receiving by “making himself useful”—cleaning the shower.
I poked fun at him about this because as soon as I heard him cleaning the shower, I knew what was up and why he was doing it. I deluded myself for the moment that I had transcended such discomfort around receiving. I’m really good at receiving. In fact, I am kind of selfish and probably receive too much. *nervous laugh*
Well, no. I had to admit to myself this week that I actually haven’t transcended struggles with receiving. This was a big admission for me. I of course knew why my boyfriend was cleaning the shower because that’s his style discomfort with receiving. You are giving me a massage? Well I must give one to you, preferably at the same time that you are giving one to me. My style, however, is that I just kind of shut down. Do I have an inbox full of words of praise directed at me? Oh god I can’t bear it. Do I have friends who are excited to attend a birthday dinner for me that I invited them to? Ohhh it’s so uncomfortable.
Here’s what I am learning: receiving is a form of vulnerability. Receiving is like letting all of your muscles relax completely, which takes a lot of patience and a lot of trust. And it occurs to me that the society I was raised in designs things so that the ideal, successful person never has to receive. Because you can just go out and buy whatever you want and have a choice over that. But you don’t have a choice when it comes to receiving. When you give me a gift, it’s what you want to give me. If you praise me, I have no control over which words tumble out of your mouth. It takes so much trust and presence to receive them fully.
Part of the reason why I realized all of this is that I never anticipated how hard it would be to receive requests for tarot readings. I am comfortable with framing my business as a service and myself as a service provider. But I didn’t really realize that, in addition to the money and goods I get in exchange for my services, I would also be receiving implicit or explicit messages: “I trust you. I believe that you are competent. I come to you with my struggles and questions and ask you to guide me.” And wow, receiving that is SO HARD.
It is my birthday, and I am giving a gift away so that I can receive more. Until the end of May, all readings in my shop, at every level of sliding scale, will be 25% off. Please send me your birthday wishes in comments or over email. Please buy a reading from me. All so that I will be drowning in the delicious and difficult need to receive.
I have not yet made back my startup costs for this business (logo, website hosting, etc.), but when I do, I will begin giving away 25% of the total reading price to Black and Indigenous people in the United States as reparations. I have plans and dreams for how I want to give this money away, but for the moment I will concentrate on receiving.