How Christmas Gifts Help Me to Understand My Self-Worth
I hope you had a wonderful Christmas! I had a quiet one because my husband Matty had to work. We celebrated the holidays a little bit earlier this month, and Matty showered me with thoughtful gifts that I wanted throughout December- Nike Joyride sneakers, a pink faux fur coat, a Lululemon outfit covered with words of inspiration, and a M&Ms dispenser featuring my favorite Yellow Peanut M&M are just a few examples. In short, I got spoiled rotten. And although I appreciated Matty's generosity, I couldn't mute the voice inside my head that said I didn't deserve any of it. I even made my husband return my beautiful unworn coat.
Ever since my domestic violence relationship, I've had a hard time placing value on myself. And especially as my own boss, it's difficult for me to ask for what I'm worth. Receiving gifts happens to be one of my dominant love languages today, but it also reminds me of when I used to receive gifts from my abusive ex-partner.
Domestic violence often follows a repeating cycle, and I used to receive gifts after an abusive incident. Gifts to me signaled the honeymoon phase, which always ended too soon.
Even years after leaving my toxic relationship, I experienced anxiety about what would happen after I received a gift from a guy I was with. But over the years, Matty's gift-giving never led to any sort of tension building or violent phases. He continued to be himself - a caring and loving man who demonstrated his love at times with a gift that simply said 'I love you,' not 'I'm sorry' or 'You'll get hell from me next week.'
My therapist told me that I have rational and irrational fears in my mind. I realized that my anxiety about gifts gave way to irrational fears. Once I became more mindful about this, I started telling myself that I deserve nice things too. I rarely buy full-priced items, especially when I shop for myself. And I always try to find the best bargain so that I can get the most bang for my buck. I think a part of why I act this way is because I'm the daughter and granddaughter of Korean immigrants. But I also know that I beeline for the cheap stuff because I don't place enough value on myself.
So this Christmas, when I received gifts too expensive for me to consider buying for myself, I said 'Thank you' for the most part instead of making up excuses as to why I didn't need them. I'm still a work in progress, but Matty helps me to understand that to him (and to Jesus), I'm priceless. While I continue to building my idea self-worth, however, I'm also waiting for that pink coat to go on sale so that I can rebuy it. ;)