Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Give and Take

Since I was a child I've been a people pleaser, a server, a helper, an emotional fluffer for my friends and an overall do-gooder. I was pure in my heart and the very definition of innocent.  I would feel huge amounts of compassion for everybody, not just the good people, but the robbers and bad guys and people who hurt other people. I used to pray for them every night. I used to think, "If they could feel MY love, they wouldn't be bad anymore. They just need love, that's all." I wasn't a perfect child but I was definitely blinded by my own sweetness and assumption that everyone was doing the same.

I have made a life out of making myself as useful and needed as possible, thus securing my value in the world as someone who supports, heals, rescues, empowers and embodies compassion. I had children as a way to secure those values. Who needs anyone more than a baby needs it's mother?

Growing up and having more life experience handed to me in the way of abuse, being taken advantage of, being used, being abandoned, being treated like shit, I have witnessed time after time how many people are in need of my kind of love, and are happy to receive it while not understanding how to give it back. Or maybe they just can't. Or don't want to.

And as much as I've been hurt, I know that I will never stop being The Caregiver. It all sounds glorious and wonderful but the flip side to this is the harsh reality of martydom and victimization, or how I like to call it: Current Reality.

And I think I can trace it all back to my abuse, when another person's deranged desire took precedence over my safety.  The one person who was entrusted with my safety and care was the very person who betrayed my innocence and destroyed my sense of self in the process.

From that point on, I continued my caregiving almost as if on a bloodthirsty quest to earn back my own personal power and worth by a life of service and wild adoration of others.  Guess how well living on the coat tails and self sacrifice works. No comment.

I've done so much personal work over the past decade, and I think the missing and perhaps final piece to my life's work of being made totally whole, is to learn how to take care of myself first. To establish myself as a person worthy of all that love and care I give others, and to give it to myself freely and without regard for anyone else.

It's a beautiful thing if you're with people who can reciprocate those services and feelings, but more often than not, people are caught in their own trances of life, not paying attention to the nuances of my requests and subtleties of my needs. And yet I hold them to that standard. End result is a feeling of rejection/pain/hurt/dismay.

One of my greatest challenges is speaking up. I can fight to the death for people I love (hell I do it for anyone off the street!), and I can tell them that they are being hurt/used/abused/taken advantage of, but I will sit like a frog in a pot of warm water as it's heating up for years and years without finding my voice to say..."Hey, its a...getting kind of hot in here..."  Finally did at the end of my first marriage and it was the best feeling in the world. 

Lately, I have found myself totally at my wits-end and frustrated by the realization that people don't express to me my own significance in their lives. I feel unimportant to them. That's not my damaged self-worth talking, that is a product of making myself as small and agreeable as possible to everyone around me.

I have made myself tiny and insignificant. If I present that to the world, how can I expect anyone to treat me any differently? 

All along, I've been beating people up in my mind, assuming that they don't care about me, crying my eyes out wondering why people won't exhibit the same level of care that I give them. And it finally occurred to me the other day: you teach people how to treat you. If you teach people you don't really care what happens to you, naturally, they won't either.  It is only when you step into your personal power and make your needs and boundaries and desires known that people stop and question their relationship to you and change to honor those boundaries and needs. And then if they don't change or honor those requests, you can go forth with all of the information.

The big AH FUCKING HA moment came last week when in the middle of a deep and dark depressing head space, I asked "how can I get people to make me feel more important to them?" And then I thought about that question...something didn't feel quite right about it. I know I can't "make" people do anything, and if I did, that is called manipulation and I don't want that either. I want authentic care giving, love, value and passion. I always say if I have to ask for someone to treat me a different way or give me something I desire, it's not authentic for them. You should already be giving that treatment out of the burden placed on your heart to do so.

But what if people are so consumed with their own lives that they aren't thinking about you and your needs right then? What if people just get lazy and complacent and assume you'll be around forever? What if they are doing something that hurts you and you never tell them? What if they think everything is honkeyfuckingdorey and the truth is you're miserable? I feel like the burden should be on ME to let them know MY truth and stop expecting everyone else to inherently know.

Maybe my boundaries and expectations are not common sense. Maybe I need to tell the people I love that in order for me to feel special/important/loved and cared for, I need A, B and C. Maybe each and every time I advocate for my self worth and value, I am in fact taking ownership of it instead of letting it be tossed to the whims and delights of others to do with what they will. Maybe that is the core of self love and significance to the self. Maybe I teach people how to love me so that I can have truly loving relationships that are full of juicy reciprocation, mutual adoration and respectful care taking.

Maybe in being able to speak out for what I need and want, I stop being a victim and a martyr and stand in my own power. Maybe in loving myself first, I become a caregiver AND a caretaker. And maybe I fucking deserve that, dammit! :D

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