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  • Writer's pictureBrian Matzke

To Give But Not Receive

As I sit at home on Christmas Eve in a quiet house with no family or friends I come deeply into realization. I have been healing abandonment my whole life. My father died when I was almost 3 years old and since then I have been wandering in the abandonment circle.

Many people find different ways to cope with abandonment issues. My coping became working and giving to others. Through continually trying to give to others I was able to fill a void that I needed myself, this was the ability to receive love. I see the way it manifested in my family members life as well. My mother used hoarding as her coping and safety tool. Filling the spaces of her life with papers and trinkets to surround her to not feel the lack in her heart. My sister used illness and sickness, by staying sick she would receive the love and attention she so craved from the abandonment. My other sister decided to have multiple children. What this gave was a constant state of being needed and loved, and then helping to again fill the void of abandonment.

All of these coping mechanisms come to an end eventually, this end leads us back to ourselves.

My realization became more clear as I sat at home alone on Christmas Eve. What I began to look deeper into was multiple aspects that lead me to this moment in my life. For a long time the feeling of people coming together because the holiday traditions said this is what happens always rubbed me the wrong way. Who forced this belief on people,churches,society,our families? There is this against the grain Gene in me that says "Fuck you I don't have to act this way or do these things because society says its the holiday! " The other side of me realized that for the last 14 years Ive been on a fire truck for most Christmas holidays. I was the guy that would work Christmas for the other firefighter that had family and kids. What this gave me was a gift to another and to myself because in turn I would be off for the New Year Holiday. I felt good to work on a day most people felt was a sacred time of the year. What I realized was that much of this was true but there was another belief in me that knew this was an excuse to not have Christmas with friends and family. Working was my coping mechanism and I was damn good at it. With abandonment we compensate by never letting anyone get close to our hearts again so we won't feel that emotion of loss and abandonment.

I began working as a child of 7 years old. I would work in a grocery store and do odd jobs around the neighborhood. This was a tool that I developed my whole life, the ability to do many different tasks to make money. It wasn't until 30 years later that through my own healing and self growth I came to understand that the action of working was my safety mechanism. As a child working I could begin to provide for myself and this felt safe as a kid being raised with no father and very little means of money. The clarity I have gained is that by working all the time I began to miss out on life. Fast forward to 30 years later and I'm doing double and triple shifts at the fire house. The reason I told myself was I'll work double and then be off more to travel and teach. The result was yes I was off half the year but my travel was filled with giving to others. I filled my time hosting retreats or teaching workshops and classes. Never really did I give time to myself and my relationships. The reason I always told myself was oh I'm working all the time I can't have a relationship, or I'm traveling so much this year how can I start a relationship. This was all my subconscious mind holding the trauma of abandonment and actualizing my fears in my life. If I stayed busy then no one would ever come close enough to abandon me again.

When my body finally screamed at me to stop I had no energy to even begin to share a deeper relationship with friends and family. Sharing an actual deep and connected relationship felt like foreign territory. But now after a full year of giving myself love and awakening to my wounds I sit at home this Christmas Eve and I am not out giving to others. I find it strangely odd to want and long to spend time with others and open my heart with the chance that I could once again feel abandonment. I step into this feeling now with my arms wide open and fully aware.

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