Back when I was a child, I remember eyeing up the presents under the Christmas Tree. We were not allowed to touch them until the appointed time when the family would gather around the tree and carefully open the presents one gift at a time. Before that moment came though, I (with my brothers) would eye up which present looked the best. Maybe which was the biggest, maybe what gift wrap was the shiniest, a ribbon added for extra effect, anything that would indicate that one might be better than another. I would conclude from this which present I wanted to be for me. But there was no handling the gifts to see who the gift card determined the present to be for. It was very much a guessing game.
Of course, what we thought would be the best, what we thought would be gold, was not always as we suspected. Sometimes that gold was simply gold paint. We were duped. All that glitters is not gold.
A few years ago I received a gift, a gift that over time I concluded to be gold. It looked so good. All the right words were there. All the right sentiments. What seemed to be the right motivations. It was an unexpected gift. I didn’t go out looking for it, but instead, it just seemed to happen. Maybe I couldn’t be let down by the gift, because I didn’t set out to get anything from it.
But it wasn’t that easy. Nothing ever is. Even when you think what you are getting is gold.
It’s true. Most people in my life thought the gift was a beast. Not gold at all. Many people were quick to judge. Judge it and probably me. Fair enough, I suppose. We all form opinions and sometimes make judgements on only a very small amount of information. Usually wrong information.
I learnt this very quickly when I was spat at for my association with my gift. I had been fortunate enough to have never been spat at in my life. I can tell you that it’s quite a wake-up call.
I realised very quickly that my decision to accept the gift had consequences. Some of those consequences have continued to live on to this day, even though the gift is no longer mine. I lost along the way, in ways that will not be obvious to anyone in my life. I am of no doubt. I lost a very great deal, and in ways I did not expect.
To be clear, this gift that I thought was gold was not without its faults. I could see that. I was going into it with what I thought were wide open eyes. It’s just that eventually the gift turned. It turned from one of gold to one of darkness. One of lies and a lack of respect for me.
In hindsight, I learnt my gift to be one of darkness and pain, but I very clearly believed it was one of goodness. Do you know how cheated I felt when I learnt? I had gone to bat for the integrity of the gift. There was both financial and emotional cost involved in accepting the gift. The air was literally bashed out of my lungs and I struggled to breathe, let alone accept and move on from the gift.
I have learnt a few things in this journey:
- If it glitters it probably isn’t gold. While it seemed wonderful for a long time, wonderful was the last thing that it was. It was a con. And it hurt me a great deal, more than I ever said to anyone.
- How quick humans are to judge, usually on the basis of just a scattering of opinions and of course, very big assumptions. Because while we all know that all that glitters is not gold, we also know that just sometimes, what looks like shit is actually gold. We all hope our gift will be gold. How can we determine either way, on just a few pieces of information? It doesn’t matter anyway because people will already have judged, already have spat.
- Not all monsters are hiding under the bed. Some are lying in the bed with us. Others are very much installed in our minds. I encountered all of them. All installed by the gift.
- I finally accepted that I am scared of the dark. Maybe not so much scared of the dark as what might be hidden in the dark and is actually right in front of my eyes without me realising. That is downright scary. So yes, I’m 52 and I sleep with the light on. Actually, I sleep so much better
- The only possible way forward from this gift was forgiveness. That’s right. I had to forgive the gift for everything because without being able to forgive the gift, I truly would have been destroyed. I forgave the gift (eventually), not for the gift’s sake, but for my own healing and survival.
- I also had to forgive myself. For decisions I had made on the basis of things I didn’t know, for missing/ignoring what was staring me right in the face, for ignoring the gut instinct that warned me without me realising and for simply being me, a person who in spite of all the flaws you could all see in this gift, I chose to see beyond them.
- Sometimes we are bound to get it wrong. I might think that gift is going to be so precious to me that it is a soulmate but in fact, is a thief. It just happens and while it seems entirely impossible to survive, somehow we do. We are, of course, only human, even when it hurts like hell.
This isn’t something that has happened to me only recently. Rather it is something that hurt so much, that it is only now that I feel able to write about it. I simply didn’t have the words, and I’m not sure I yet have adequate words. Sometimes it takes other people’s words to explain too, and that is always okay with me.
“sometimes we’re silent
because our soul knows
how it feels, but hasn’t
found the words that
the mind can understand.”
I felt too, that I owed the gift some privacy in spite of the pain it inflicted on me. I know better now. I don’t owe that gift anything. All that glitters is not gold. And when it’s not gold, you don’t owe it a thing. Sometimes I’m slow to learn but eventually I get there.
Thanks for reading!