Always the giver, never the given

When I set out last year to create this blog, I had these big and excited expectations for it.  I was going through almost every single major change one could go through in their adult life, all at once.  It was scary and overwhelming, and I felt lost in all of it.  I needed a way to process everything that was happening in real time, in a real way.  So I created Unaccompanied Woman.

And that’s the funny thing about life.  You can almost never catch a break.  I had posts planned out, and a daily schedule for this, so that I could make this thing something.  Something bigger.  And due to the chaos that is my life, just about none of that could happen. 

The frustration is near-unimaginable.

As I sit back and reflect on the last year or so, I feel so consumed with so many feelings.  And there is a very real chance that that is due to the storm battering my head and heart right now.  As I envisioned my move and as I envisioned my “new” life, I have to be honest- – None of what it is right now is what I had planned.

Last night, I was so angry with my boyfriend that my car nearly ended up in a cornfield out in the middle of nowhere, because I couldn’t see past the rage.  I locked myself in the bedroom, forcing him to sleep wherever the hell he ended up.  I cried myself to sleep.

Last night, I was so angry with my mom that I completely shut her out of what is going on right now.  I know that she means the best, but right now hearing her say “I told you so” or “it was only a matter of time” or any of her other shitty one liners is exactly the opposite of what I need.  So I keep rejecting her calls and ignoring her texts.  Because she means well, but she’s also hurting me right now.

And in all of that, there is my best friend.  My soul mate.  I call her my sister.  While I’m crying and a mess, she is the only person who asked me what I needed.   

What I needed.

See, here’s the thing about relationships- –

No matter the kind of relationship, most everyone is really only going to look out for what they want and what they can get.  As I get older, this is something that I see more and more and more and more.  By and large, this seems to be just how it is.  Whether it is with families, with friends, significant others, hell- even with strangers, it truly appears like everyone out there is just out to get their own.

Which sucks for me.  Because I am a sucker through and through.  I give and give and give.  To every living thing that shows me the slightest bit of attention.  There is a reason why my cats drink ice cold filtered water, and why I have driven perfect strangers home in the middle of the night, thirty minutes away. 

And what I have seen, especially with the people in my life, is that while I may be a giver, everyone else is a taker.  This is something that I have had to explain repeatedly to my boyfriend over the last couple of months.  Because all of that giving means that eventually, inevitably, I become empty.

Empty.

And right now, the fumes are gone.  Right now, I am empty with nothing else to give to anyone.  Whether it’s advice, my time, love, or just a listening ear.  I have nothing else to give. 

So when my best friend sister soul mate asked me what I needed, I was understandably caught off guard.  Because I cannot for the life of me remember the last time that someone asked me what I needed.  Because usually, I have to carefully and repeatedly explain what it is that I need to the people who love me. 

For that simple act of kindness, I am unspeakably grateful.  And because that’s not something that I have ever been asked, it got me thinking about the things that I need from the people in my life. 

See, as a giver, until things reach critical mass, until it’s my own DEFCON-1, I am not thinking about the things that I need.  I am not prioritizing my own wellbeing and health, mental or otherwise.  So, in between feeling all manner of feelings and crying all of the tears, I have been thinking about what it is that I need right now, and long-term.

It’s a working list.  But it’s a start.  And the key will be to not allow misplaced guilt get in the way of my fierce advocation for myself.  The key will be to not allow anyone to take what I need away from me, or worse, make me feel so small that I forget my needs. 

And that’s the thing.  With takers.  They will make you feel small and un___ all the while taking all of the love and support and compassion and energy that you have, just because you’re offering it.  While I’m articulating all of this, I think that it’s important to also note that by and large, most people don’t realize that they are emotional black holes.  Most people are so wrapped up in their own pain, that looking past it is quite literally too difficult for them.  And I don’t, for the most part, blame them for that.

That isn’t the job in front of me.  The job in front of me is to treat myself like the damaged goods that I’m constantly trying to fix in the people around me.  And with that first step, I feel as ready as I can to start holding the people in my life to the standard that they need to be held.  Because this empty vessel needs to no longer embrace the ache of subsisting only on the fumes leftover after everyone else is taken care of.

One thought on “Always the giver, never the given

  1. This was inspiring, and it’s crazy how many things that life throws us and reveals the people that love and care for us to help lessen the hardship of the trial. You have done so many brave things just by giving that it’s admirable, especially driving strangers home! I hope someone else gives to you all that you’ve done in return without asking for it.

    -Stephanie

    Like

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