Belenen (belenen) wrote,

my generosity is sustained by appreciation & killed by expectation / asking for what I want

Lately I've been thinking about what it means to be generous. For me it's this flow that is sustained by appreciation; if I feel like someone really gets a lot out of me doing/giving something, then I feel a strong desire to do it. That can get out of balance sometimes and I've gotten super-sensitive to expectation because it changes the whole thing into guilt-avoidance. I'd rather resist the urge to give than have to deal with guilt. But like I first experienced with the Wynnes, even my most hated chore can become something I actively desire to do if I feel like it will bring real joy to someone I care about. I do dishes for Topaz sometimes (which is a big damn deal!). I get up EARLY when I don't have to for Topaz sometimes. And I feel happy doing these things and they don't feel like a chore because the relief/happiness it brings Topaz changes the context so completely, and ze doesn't expect them ever. If I never did them again ze wouldn't be bothered by that. That to me is the way to tell if someone expects something; if they'd get upset, angry, pouty, distant, etcetera if you didn't do it, that means they expect you to do it.

I've also been thinking that there have not been many instances in my life of people being generous to me -- by which I mean (1) doing something kind for me or giving to me, (2) of their own initiative, (3) with no other reason except to bring me joy. My parents, for instance, have never done this. ACTUALLY never. All gifts/acts of service have been because it was expected or because I was in need. One time I thought my ex-partner had done that, but it turned out that it was someone else's suggestion (thus not zir own initiative). This used to make me feel like I loved other people way more than they loved me, because it didn't make them happy just to make me happy. But I think maybe it's a skill. Part of me says "no, it's just natural" but I know 'natural' is bullshit. And I always think that I make it easy, that I make it clear what I want, but recently reflecting on that I've realized that I almost never ask for what I want directly. I address the issue directly, but not as a request but instead as a statement of feeling. For instance, if I want my person to initiate hugs, I will say, "I feel sad that you don't initiate hugs because it makes me feel like you don't desire my hugs, can we talk about this feeling" instead of just saying "I want you to initiate hugs more." This is partly because I want to get to a solution together -- perhaps the solution isn't the person initiating hugs more, but me changing my way of thinking, etc. But it's partly a duct-tape method of avoiding guilt-motivation, started with my ex-partner, who would have heard "I want you to initiate hugs more" and argued me out of it or followed the letter of the request without the spirit of it or just shut down in self-loathing that quickly turned into irritation at me. And good grief, if I had done that with my parents, they'd have used it as bribery or blackmail. And while it is a good thing to try to be sensitive to people who are easily swayed by requests, that's not true of Topaz and I need to trust that I can ask for things and get an honest response; to trust that ze's not going to do something ze doesn't want to do and then resent me for it. In not asking for what I want, I am acting in fear. I do not need to walk on eggshells and I need to get out of the habit of it because it's counter-productive. I've learned this but I keep forgetting because it has never been true before. I have a very forceful presence and I have to come up with all kinds of safety-shut-offs to make sure that I don't override other people's will accidentally. Topaz is the first person I've been with who is possibly as willful as I am. (Maybe Adi was too, but our relationship got interrupted so early that we never really got to that point)
Tags: communication / words, giving, relationships, the essential belenen collection, topaz

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