July 2017
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what nourishes me in friendship: self-care/growth/awareness, shared passion/enthusiasm, creating...


icon: "plant magic (photo I took of a tree blossom cluster, still in buds)"

A friend asked me what nourishes me in friendship, and after thinking on it, this is how friends can nourish me:

1. self-care/growth/awareness. This is far and away the most important, the thing that nourishes me most in spending time with someone (whether virtually or in-person). A person can be the best person in the world, but if they aren't good at self-care it will not nourish me to be around them. I think this is partly because I sense the care that they need and I have to practice a lot of self-discipline to be around them without trying to fill that hole (a vast improvement over my previous self, but still an intense and draining struggle for me), and that struggle gets exponentially harder the more I care about them. So the skill of self-care prevents me from feeling a constant drain (due to that internal struggle) in their presence.

But the other side of that, growth, is actively nourishing to me when it is shared with me. When someone has been, for instance, going to therapy regularly and learning new skills that they are applying in their relationships or their daily habits, I can feel that and it subconsciously nourishes me. (or if they have simply been taking a walk everyday because it helps them feel mentally clear and less anxious, or they've been reading more, etc) Further, if they describe it to me, it nourishes me more because I learn more about them as they learn about themselves, and I also learn about myself as they share. Sometimes this is because they share something that teaches me something new, sometimes it's just as simple as noting my reaction to a particular aspect of something and realizing something new about myself from that.

I often spark this on my own by asking questions that prompt self-reflection and growth, but that is usually a much much smaller nourishment because it requires energy to put in. If I ask a simple question and then the person makes explores it carefully and thoughtfully, that can be really nourishing, but that requires a certain mental habit of critical analysis and a level of practiced openness that most people don't have, so it is rare.

2. shared passion and enthusiasm. This is more complex than it seems at first glance, because it involves the other person not only understanding and caring about the same thing I care about, but expressing that emphatically and emotionally, 'hyper'ly even. And this could be anger, joy, excitement, shock, wonder, etc, any passionate emotion. Kylei has always nourished me in this way, because Kylei is very VERY good at being enthusiastic and loud about it. On the flip side, if I share something I feel passionate about with someone and they have a calm or flat reaction to it, I will feel drained by having shared with them and will wish I hadn't, because if I had instead written about it I would have had a better reaction just from myself re-reading it.

3. creating together. I find creating to be nourishing in itself, and when someone creates with me I feel extra nourished because I feel like they are investing in their self-care/growth as well as my self-care and growth. Conversely, if someone sets the intention with me to create, and then doesn't, I sometimes feel worse than I would have if I had just created alone.

4. spiritual working together. This can be incredibly nourishing but it requires number 1, 2, and 3 or it takes more energy than it gives.

5. asking me meaningful specific questions. This can be nourishing from anyone, but has far more impact if the question is one that I hadn't considered, and/or if it is about something that I am currently positively emotionally invested in. (being asked about things that I find stressful is draining, not nourishing, though someone who is really good at questioning can sometimes make an overall nourishing conversation out of it) Vague questions like "how are you?" are not at all nourishing because they take so much work for me to organize my thoughts and answer. (my ADD-PI means I hate vagueness in general, btw)

6. cuddles/focused touch. This can make me feel REALLY nourished BUT it is only good for me if the person is 1) good at self-care AND 2) is good at noting my reactions and adjusting for the comfort of both of us AND 3) is generous. I am very physically sensitive and it is easy to make me feel bad, and if I give a lot of cuddles without also getting them it rapidly gets more draining than nourishing. I like drinking and cuddling because I get numbed and then it is not distressing to the point of emotional suffering to have someone brush a sensitive place accidentally. Otherwise, I exclusively give (which I do really love when it doesn't happen too often) or do some specific and boundaried touch (like let them rub my feet or pet my hair).

7. gifts of effort. This can be things like driving to see me when you live far away, or doing a chore I hate doing. But if you don't ask if I want it and get a yes first (or ask if I have a blanket answer for that particular thing), it can be upsetting, because I want to be able to measure my gratitude against your effort. If it is going to take a lot out of you but only give me a little, then it is not worth it and if you do it I will just feel bad for your loss rather than feeling happy for my gain.

Things that have low to no nourishment value for me: activities which don't involve the previous things (so, going to the movies together would not nourish me unless we deconstructed it after or something), people expressing empathy/sympathy for my negative feelings (I want them to care, but I'm okay just trusting that they care unless I am in a desperate place and if I am there, I will specifically request support), being told nice things about myself, being listened to without feedback. These are all nice and certainly don't have a negative effect, but they are not things that have a large emotional impact on me.


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on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.