The night before my first day of giving I was so excited for what was to come. I closed my eyes for the night feeling optimistic, but awoke at 4 am with my stomach in knots. My thoughts started racing...
Why couldn't I sleep... If I don't sleep I'll have a terrible day... How stupid was I to think anything could have changed yet... What if my boyfriend leaves me...
I'm in full on panic attack mode now. I sometimes find I have crippling anxiety, usually after a fight in which my live-in boyfriend tells me he can't be with me anymore. A fight that is usually over nothing at all.
His threats are empty, and a piece of me knows that. But the part of me that experienced 3 of my mother's husbands leaving, not to mention the countless other men that she never bothered to marry that came in and out of my life, my own failed marriage, and two other relationships that ended for whatever reason... that part of me takes over. And even though we hashed things out, I can't stop thinking that I'm going to lose everything.
Thank God for 29 gifts and smartphones. I start browsing the site from my phone in bed. People had already left me encouraging notes, commented on my first blog. Reading them helped me think of something else. I browsed some other blogs and felt myself calming down.
2 hours later I was able to fall back asleep. Just before I drifted off I snuggled up against my boyfriend. He made the happiest sound in his sleep, a sound that reminded me he isn't going anywhere.
I wake up early to drive to Connecticut. My gift today is to visit my friend who lives 2 hours away. She is having a very difficult time, having lost first her father in law, then her father. She is almost ready to leave her marriage, is facing complications from a shooting she survived years ago, and is trying to raise a son on the autism spectrum.
But before I leave, my boyfriend is being strangely nice. He has gather my things for me. He has already started laundry, which is usually my job. He has signed up for chores for the week and left me virtually nothing... When I ask him why he's being so nice he tells me it's his gift to me :) Of course, it really isn't strange at all. I realize he does these kinds of things for me everyday, I just never think of them as being gifts.
When I finally get to my friend's house she gives me the biggest hug she has in her, and starts crying. For the first hour I listen to her, the way I had just been listened to the day before. My visit was supposed to be a gift to her, but the listening turned out to be just as much a gift for me.
I helped her make her bed and then suggested we get some food. We went to her brother's new restaurant for a sandwich. My friend ran into two other old friends and they joined us at our table. They shared their stories with us, and I felt grateful to hear what they had to say. I decided I would pay for their lunches when I paid for mine.
Soon after my friend's mom came to the table with two pieces of baklava for us...on the house :)
After we ate we went to pick up my friend's son from school. When he saw I was there he gave me a big hug and told me he had missed me so much. We went back to the house and I watched something with him on youtube for 45 minutes or so. It's what he wanted to do with me.
Before I left, my friend gave me some presents. She gave me a wallet made in Greece that she got on a visit to her home there. She also gave me a hot chocolate kit, and a battleship game for my son, and I made sure I gave her my copy of 29 Gifts.
Later that evening I got a text message from my friend. She tells me how much better she is doing thanks to my visit. Oh, and the other friends say thank you for buying their lunch :)
The evening ends with another gift for me. I get a phone call from a friend that I haven't talked to since she moved out of state. She gives me the name of a therapist that she really liked that helped her a lot. I've decided I could stand to work on some things...
But as the night goes on I can feel my anxiety creeping up again. I feel the need to tell my boyfriend about a phone call I made to a friend of his when we had our fight. I thought he was going to be mad again. But he wasn't. That may have been the gift I needed most of all.