The question posed by this Blog’s title doesn’t mean, How much mistreatment can you take before doubling over in pain and then exploding in a crazed rage while the Other Person says, “See how crazy you are! No wonder I do __________.”
Fill in the blank with over-drink, use drugs, cheat; lie; refuse to commit; over-work; stay away from home or whatever the Other Person does that hurts us so much.
Many of us long to be nurtured, held, shown we’re cared for and about. We’re genuinely confused about why that doesn’t happen.
Your answer to the question asked by this blog’s title also answers the question: Why don’t other people do for me, after all I do for them?
Having a moderate to high Receivability Quotient (referred to as RQ in the rest of this blog) can create a major change in your life. Even if you haven’t heard of RQ until now, RQ has heard about you.
It’s affected us all along and will continue to do so.
Some people say we can’t out-give God. That may be true for most, but not for the avid codependent. Our RQ is what people cannot out-give, no matter how hard they try. Their gifts won’t work; their love won’t stick.
We say we want the Other Person to give us more. We complain to our friends about how much we do for her or him, and how little that person does for us, that selfish son-of-an-overindulgent potential mother-in-law.
Our RQ doesn’t affect only romantic relationships. It directly dictates how much we receive from Life, our Higher Power (or God as we understand or fail to understand Him), people we do business with, our Boss, customers, and the list goes on. All our relationship fall prey to our RQ. It dictates what we will or won’t accept with open arms.
We don’t want to make it our goal to only receive. It’s important to maintain a healthy balance between giving and getting, and to have healthy boundaries about what we receive, how much, and from whom. But for most of us, the scales don’t come close to balancing.
How many of you have been taught that it’s better to give than to receive? Show of hands, please. Do you believe that? I do. Unquestionably, blessings pour down on those who give in a healthy, non-codependent and non-manipulative way.
So if we believe that giving is a good thing, then why do we dig in our heels and refuse to let those around us become blessed by giving to us? Why do we deny people we say we love that pleasure by denying their gifts?
I learned much about healthy giving taking care of my Mom when Alzheimer’s disease destroyed her once razor-sharp mind. But when I first tried to help by telling my mother what she was going to do, who was going to help her, where and when, my attitude triggered an uncontrollable rage in her.
“Get the hell out of my life. I don’t want anything from you,” she screamed.
A year later when I returned, I treated her with respect by asking her what she wanted, and from whom. Things transpire differently. I made a conscious decision that before my mom died, she would experience what it felt like to be unconditionally loved. By me.
I achieved my goal.
At her funeral, people said that my mother looked more beautiful and at peace than she ever had.
“No,” I said. “She looks dead.”
But what people said was true. My mother and I had battled all my life, each of us wanting the other to take care of and love us. Neither of us would give in.
This war ended when I decided to love her. I understand that in a perfect world the mother should love and take care of the child, and not the other way around. But we’re talking the eleventh hour. No time to undo a lifetime of behaviors so sick that our family became the poster-family for dysfunctional systems.
My relationship with my mother would never be what it should be. But in those remaining years of my mother’s life when I accepted and loved her as she was instead of constantly reminding myself about all I didn’t get from her, my mom:
Nurtured me for the first time in a way that truly touched my heart;
Told me how much she loved me so cleanly it didn’t make me throw up;
Cried at my pain over me losing my son instead of trying to outdo me by saying how much more she hurt than I did;
Told me how proud of me she felt instead of pointing out my every past mistake;
Forgave me for hurting her as a result of my addiction when I was a young adult and child;
Did more than superficially forgive me and instead she forgot the pain I caused her – well maybe the Alzheimer’s had something to do with that;
Hugged me with such love it no longer felt like a porcupine had me trapped in its grip;
Laughed, giggled and enjoyed life;
Trusted and respected me.
For the first time, my mother loved me the way I wanted her to. It felt good.
I didn’t expect anything from her. I focused only on my goal – to give and show love to her. She had desperately sought love all her life and we know how well desperation works when it comes to love.
She had married eight, nine or ten different men. By now, we’d all lost track (including her) of how many husbands she had. What she didn’t lose track of, even in her dementia, was that she hadn’t found or received the love she desired and that unmet need and her refusal to receive (a no-win situation) still guided and motivated what she did.
By age 90 – well actually many decades before that — her unfulfilled desire etched itself so deeply into the furrowed lines on her forehead, the deep wrinkles around her eyes, and the downward turn of her lips, that I thought the pain had become a permanent part of her face.
Love changed even that. Her receiving my love became a great anti-aging protocol, more effective than anything money could buy. Alzheimer’s disease had rendered Mom so vulnerable she finally let love in.
As an unexpected perk, what I gave to my mother swung around like a boomerang and blessed me.
So if it’s more blessed to give than to receive, why do we deny others the blessings they could receive if we let them give to us? Not a redundant question, it merits a thoughtful answer. Why don’t we let people give to us?
“No, I couldn’t.”
“Nuh uh. No. Can’t accept that.”
“I can do it myself.”
“I will take care of myself.”
“Don’t need any help, but thanks for offering.”
Some of us don’t even use the gift cards other people give us. We let them expire.
Our RQ register reads zero. The reading won’t change until we consciously decide to allow ourselves – to trust ourselves – to receive.
Here’s an example of how powerful that decision can be and how quickly it can create change. Soon after I went through treatment for chemical dependency but not soon enough, I tired of the bus being my only means of transportation.
Traveling by bus wasn’t a green thing; it felt like a mean thing. My arms ached from carrying those brown paper sacks of groceries from the store to the bus, and then from the bus to my little apartment-home. I hated it when I couldn’t find an available seat on the bus, and I had to stand, juggling my bags of groceries.
Before chemical dependency treatment, I abused the State-given privilege to drive. I assumed I’d not be allowed to drive again and accepted that as my self-created fate, Just Desserts for my reckless anti-social driving.
I believed I didn’t deserve to drive again. In the evenings, after attending my recovery meetings, I wouldn’t even allow myself to accept a ride home. When people from the meetings offered to drive me home, I always said “No, thanks.
One day I completely, utterly tired of riding the bus. I looked up at the sky (when I’m outside and talk to God, I always look at the sky, as if God dwells inside a cloud). “God please, could I get a driver’s license and a car?” I said, making a statement as much as asking a question.
Within six weeks, I had a car and a driver’s license (a valid one). But first I had to elevate my RQ and demonstrate that by asking for what I wanted.
That began the journey of understanding my RQ and learning the importance of written goals. If we aren’t conscious of what we want and if we don’t believe we deserve whatever we want enough to write about it, we probably won’t recognize the gift and accept it when it comes. An opportunity will arise, and we’ll refuse, reject, or not even notice it.
By writing our goals, we’ve upped our RQ and increased the possibility of getting what we want.
Other factors make goals crucial, but that’s another blog for another time. Regarding RQ, by writing goals, we do the prep work to receive and accept what we want, when it comes. Goals aren’t to be used to interfere with another’s free will; they’re one way we manifest our own.
So often, I’m asked to define codependency. As I’ve written before, it’s nearly impossible because codependency consists of behaviors nearly everyone does occasionally. These behaviors can be healthy or an expression of dysfunction.
Two people can do exactly the same behavior and for one, it’s a healthy choice and another, a codependent, compulsively-driven act.
Some people don’t get to the place in codependency recovery where they feel safe enough to give to people again. When I took take of my mother when she had Alzheimer’s, I wasn’t engaging in codependent caretaking. I did for her what she could not do for herself.
I didn’t take care of her out of guilt. I wanted to love her and care for her.
Many of us may have only experienced guilt-motivated giving done out of obligation. Sacrificing for and giving to another person, when done from clean and pure motives, can forge a deep bond of love between the caregiver and the person receiving care.
It’s similar to pregnancy. We bring our baby home from the hospital. Then we realize it will be 12 to 24 years before we ever get a good night’s sleep again. Even when a child reaches his or her majority, they like to call Mom or Dad at 1:30 a.m. to discuss things.
When our children are small, they depend on us for every need. A parent gives and gives and gives to a child. It’s healthy, as long as healthy boundaries temper the giving and we eventually learn to say “No” to a child.
If we’re lucky, at some point we have an epiphany. We see that by legitimately sacrificing — and caregiving an infant exemplifies healthy caretaking because a baby can’t change its diaper until it’s four years old – and by doing for and giving to our child, we may be exhausted but we’ve grown to love this child deeply.
Unhealthy caregiving breeds resentments and leaves us drained. Healthy giving blesses us. We may be tired, but we experience love at its finest.
It’s more blessed to give than to receive and clean, healthy giving creates good love.
If you’re shopping for a special person or spouse, if you’re in a flagging relationship, or you’re in one where the other person wants to run (but can’t because we’ve handcuffed him or her to the television stand), maybe the problem isn’t that we haven’t given him or her enough.
Maybe it’s that we’ve given too much and haven’t let him or her give to us. We haven’t learned how to let our special person give to us and create that deep bond of love.
See, guys and gals, being unlovable does not accurately describe our problem. We’re loveable. You’re loveable. So are you. And you. And even you, with all your quirky ways. Not allowing people to give to us, not ceasing our endless giving and caretaking, not taking our RQ from zero to at least a two and preferably a five or six describes the problem and defines the solution
Wherever you are, no matter your situation, it’s time to evaluate your RQ and consciously learn to say, “Yes, thank you. I’ll accept that ___________.” Fill in the blank with: compliment, ride, gift, dinner or help when we’re ill.
For years we’ve heard that we don’t recover from codependency by changing exterior situations. We can leave. We can stay. We can vacillate. Doesn’t matter. Until we make changes inside of ourselves, things stay the same.
Recovery is an inside job.
We can take care of ourselves. We no longer have to protect ourselves by taking care of everyone around us. It’s safe to receive. We’re free to give to others because now we know what we want to do and give, and what we don’t.
We say what we mean. We’re what some people call authentic. It’s what author Margery Williams Bianco meant in her book The Velveteen Rabbit when she wrote about becoming real.
We are who we are. When it comes to changes, Life will guide us as to what needs to be changed and when. We don’t change by thinking or reading about it. We change by immersing ourselves in the experiences of our lives.
It’s time to lift our Receivability Quotient until it soars. It’s time to accept what we want. It’s time to learn to fly.
Take the first step to raising your RQ by watching yourself – observing – and becoming aware of how you refuse or reject the gifts life offers you. Do you allow people in your life to take and take, without giving to you? Are you drained and exhausted – and not in a good way?
Do you resent the giving you do, or do you feel blessed by it?
Become aware of what you really want.
Let the lesson of RQ integrate, move down from our minds as intellectual knowledge, and then transform our behaviors. We’ll get only that which we allow ourselves to receive, and not one one-hundredth of a millimeter more.
Stop with the “I couldn’t,” “You shouldn’t,” and the “I can’t.” Just … say… yes. Give the people around you the opportunity to be blessed by giving to you.
From the desk of Melody Beattie
Originally posted June 17, 2012
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