November 2017
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fear of love being taken away if I'm not comforting & helpful / my worth / who I am vs what I do


icon: "nascent (a painting by Michael Whelan of a person with long flowing hair and large breasts sitting naked and cross-legged inside a green egg, which is being held against the sky by giant translucent blue hands with pointy nails)"


The weirdest thing about not dating Topaz right now is how I feel like I have an abundance of time. I take a leisurely route home, stop at the thrift store or grocery store, I make myself tea and read, I craft, I organize and tidy, and none of it in a hurry. These were things I did already but I always did them in a kind of defiant or splurge-y kind of way, and it didn't happen that often.

It's weird to realize how much I put restrictions on myself to be available for Topaz. It's a little scary, because it was an unconscious rule that I couldn't do things that would make me unavailable to Topaz unless I arranged it ahead of time. I know Topaz would never ask something like that of me, nor would I ask it of someone else, yet it was such a rule in my head that I had to work up a feeling of defiance in order to disobey it. And I know this isn't the first time I've had this subconscious rule, though it is the first time I feel sure that my person wouldn't be secretly wanting me to fall into that pattern (which is why I was able to break out of it at all).

I have this fear of love being taken away if I ever am not there for someone when they want comfort or help. I don't fear that the person will really suffer damage from me not giving to them one time -- rationally I think they will be okay (and if maybe not, then that is a completely different situation). I fear, selfishly, that if I don't do it, they will make a tally mark. Each "not there" tally mark crosses out four "good support" tally marks or eight "mediocre support" tally marks. Partly I don't want to have to make up for not being there because that's usually more work than the being there would be. I don't get afraid of this right away. It's only when it becomes a habit for me to be comforting/helpful that I get afraid of not doing it.

I think that I earn people's love and I find it very hard to resist the idea of a few more gold coins, even though I should have far more than I need. I feel a compulsion to hoard in case I make a mistake and that causes inflation that makes my previous earnings worthless. Ugh, I had no idea that my attitude toward love was so capitalist. I don't even know how to restructure it.

I can't really grasp the idea of someone not loving me less when I am not an automatic comfort/help. Of course they would! how could they not? I'm not sure where this fear came from, because I don't remember being a comfort to anyone as a child, and I don't remember having love withdrawn for not being a comfort (at least, not for the first 2 decades of my life). Although, thinking specifically on being helpful, my parents definitely withdrew love if I didn't 'help' by which they meant 'do what I want.' I think my understanding of help is muddied by their emotional abuse around 'gifted' labor.

Ultimately I think 'comforting/helpful' is the new 'smart' - the thing people value about me which is not part of my identity and which becomes a bigger deal than it should be. That feels close to the truth.

It doesn't help that almost always people refer to my various forms of giving when I ask why they love me. And it makes sense that people would love when I am generous, and I do want my giving to be appreciated, and I know that actions are part of the reason I love others. But it feels like the innate things are less important, like maybe they could take or leave those as long as I was giving. But for me, actions are almost never one of the first things I love about a person, except when they are an expression of something innate (like an artist making art).

What am I without giving? am I still worthwhile? I think I would be, to me, if I was someone else. I think if I was someone else I would feel nourished by my mere existence. I am actively nourished by myself, in that when I am being most myself, I enjoy my own company and I enjoy the space I create. Being in my bedroom (when I am in a good place and thus it is tidy) is like a constant cuddle from a rainbow and a forest together. I wish it felt that way to others. I want other people to be able to appreciate me in the way I do, because that is the way that feels like it's really about ME and not just about what I DO. I don't know how to explain this well.

I bounce back and forth between thinking that I give too much and wondering if I give at all. And also always wondering if I could be loved without earning it. If I could be appreciated for just existing, like a tree.

I'm too scared that the answer is "no" to try it out. I don't really know how to do it. I am constantly working to earn love -- it's automatic. I feel like because I can avoid making people do work or feel bad, I should. I should always be careful in my phrasing, gentle with feelings, avoiding misunderstanding, offering solutions, helping. Sometimes I try to be 'natural' but I am almost always drained by such efforts and it seems counterproductive, as it makes me feel worse about myself, and usually it makes me feel disconnected because when a bad feeling happens the other person often simply leaves it there. Sometimes people attack me in response, because my behavior changed and it made them feel bad, and they think of it as me attacking them. Other times they drop out of my life because the thing they came for is not there.

This is part of the reason that when someone doesn't care one way or the other about my journal, I feel very suspicious of the idea that they could love me. How could you possibly love me if the purest expression of who I am is something you could take or leave? My LJ is as much who I am as my face is -- nay, more so. It is more me than my cuddles, more me than the way I move, more me than my sex, more me than my presents or my fractals or my photos. Literally the only thing that is more me than my journal is my consciousness and spirit, maybe my body but that's questionable as I didn't create my body. If people don't enjoy reading in general, I can intellectually understand that but emotionally I do not understand.

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Comments
zimtkeks ══╣Robert - look╠══
Your parents' taking away of love when you didn't help must have affected your concepts of love and support.
Were there any situations you can remember when someone else wasn't there for you when you were growing up?

People describing you as a giving person doesn't mean they don't see anything else in you. Maybe they already feel nourished by you just being there and being you, even when you're not doing anything.
And would not giving at all make you happier? In my experience I gain a lot from giving to someone I love. I have to be careful not to give too much so that I don't feel comfortable anymore, but in moderation it makes me happy and it is an expression of who I really am. I wouldn't try to go for the other extreme, rather find some balance.
belenen ══╣overwhelmed╠══
Someone else was never really there for me. I knew I couldn't turn to my parents, and I was afraid that if I turned to someone else they would resent me for burdening them.

No, not giving at all would not make me happier, and I don't think it is even possible. I definitely do not have a goal of ceasing to give entirely. I would just like that to be allowed, because sometimes I'd really like to take a break.
zimtkeks ══╣╠══
Someone else was never really there for me. I knew I couldn't turn to my parents, and I was afraid that if I turned to someone else they would resent me for burdening them.
That must have shaped your expectations, too.
I'm sorry you had to grow up like that.
volamonster ══╣descent of man╠══
I resonated strongly with what you describe about being loved for what you are, not what you do. I actually feel like you, like this is an unusual way for people to love, but I wish it weren't, because I give what I am, I don't give many actions. And when I love people, it is as you describe--because of who they are, and who we are when we are together, not what they give me or what they do (unless the doing is an expression of who they are, like making art or excelling at running their non-profit or whatever).

I think my way of loving and wanting to be loved is why people don't connect with me very well. What I offer is being me; I don't offer as much in the way of help or availability because I honestly don't have much to give. I have no disposable income to do things or give gifts, I have very little physical energy to go places, and my way of giving comfort is not always what people are looking for. What I offer is me: me in all my knowledge and self-work, me in my artistic expression, my ideas, my convictions and curiosities. And that's the same thing I want others to give to me. I just want to know them and grow with them. That is closeness, for me.
belenen ══╣connate╠══
While writing this I thought of you and felt comforted. Being loved purely for existing is rare, but for sure I feel loved by you for existing because I understand how you love.
cactus_rs ══╣Cancer╠══
So much of this resonated with me, especially:

I think that I earn people's love and I find it very hard to resist the idea of a few more gold coins, even though I should have far more than I need. I feel a compulsion to hoard in case I make a mistake and that causes inflation that makes my previous earnings worthless. Ugh, I had no idea that my attitude toward love was so capitalist. I don't even know how to restructure it.

I conceptualize it as my Virgo DC manifesting itself: I function best (as in, feel the most secure) in relationships if I can feel that I of am some kind of use, whether in terms of logistics or financial support or "the only friend who does/understands X." Without that I feel like...well, why bother being friends me? I don't bring anything else to the table.
belenen ══╣analytical╠══
I thought I had outgrown my need to be needed, and I sort of have, but only in that I don't want it any more. I still function in such similar ways that I end up in similar situations. *shakes head* I feel ya.
ragnarok_08 ══╣TFP ★ calls out in fate's eyes╠══
So much of this really resonated with me, especially with wondering if I give too much or if I give at all.
belenen ══╣artless╠══
*empathy*
darkestgarden ══╣╠══
I relate to a lot of this on one level or another. Thank you for sharing.
belenen ══╣artless╠══
*feels understood* thank you.
eternal_ot ══╣╠══
You made me wonder if I do the same and question my sense of "Love". A great introspective piece. Thanks for penning!
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.