I Will Never be the Giving Tree
There is a well known, well loved children’s book called “The Giving Tree.” Recently my son brought this book home from school and we snuggled up in bed and as I began reading, my insides began to curl up into a ball. We finished the book, he fell asleep and I read it over again about 3 times. And the more I read it, the angrier I became.
You see, I have only recently found freedom in who I am. My whole life, I was raised by my mother, the giving tree who gave and gave and whittled herself away for others. She was my hero, so I molded myself to make others happy and give it all away. I gave myself away to everyone, no matter if they deserved it or not. Men, colleagues, family, church family, and “friends” could all count on me to drop it all and never say no. My children suffered more than me, and I was rarely present in their lives and even when physically present, I was sleeping.
I felt resentment because I couldn’t be the mom I wanted to be, so I hated being a mom.
The day I turned 30, I cried my eyes out. I was nowhere near any goals I had set for myself. I was in a toxic relationship, had a boss who sexually harassed me every day, and I realized things had to change. So I made some calls and moved back to my hometown, started working in the birthing career I wanted, and guess what? Not much actually changed in my life other than the scenery.
At 36, I found myself slaving away, broke, and exhausted like most people can’t imagine. I was unable to say no to anything. I had become very close friends with someone, and that friend pushed me until I broke. And I broke HARD. I hadn’t slept for 5 days, and was emotionally distraught over losing one of my best friends and I broke. It was ugly, I hurt one of the most important people in my life, but I don’t regret it one bit.
Because all those people who I thought were my friends disappeared. The relationships dear to me have healed or are well on the way, and my children have their mom back. I have cut my hours in half and doubled my income, I get to snuggle my kids and pick them up from school, I can pray and listen to worship music without sobbing in desperation, and I have the most amazing man in my life who has completely altered the way I see relationships.
I would have none of this if I never learned that I don’t have to be the giving tree.
Every morning, I wake up and I choose to be an apple tree, and I plant seeds and then I watch my children, clients and friends grow. And one day when I am old and ready to stop, I know I will be resting under an orchard as big as a sea, and that my friends, is real love.