I’m fighting a battle against myself. The things that make me happy are also the things that bring me the most anguish. It’s time I call into question my habits, and ask whether the net effect was ever positive.
I give excessively to those I care about. It’s both an unconscious extension of my anxiety, and a deliberate attempt to force an image of my indispensability on others. So I go out of my way, plus 5 miles, just to prove to people that I’m worthy of a permanent place in another’s heart. I gave up on the idea a long time ago that my efforts would be reciprocated by anyone. What I look for, rather, is appreciation. I live for appreciation. I would do just about anything as long as I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it would get appropriately enthusiastic thanks. But it never does. It never could. Is it because no one understands how hard I work to plan the perfect vacation/dinner/Christmas gift? Maybe. Or it might be that no one really likes a thoughtful gift. It’s an inconvenience and perhaps a bit rude.to ask a person to be emotionally moved without their prior consent. I’ve been doing everyone a disservice by trying to serve them.
Actually, trying to find the words to express my feelings, the word I keep coming back to is “worthy.” I do for others not to prove anything to them, but to prove to myself that I’m worthy of having their love. That feels accurate, but it’s a scarier thought. Instead of the problem being a matter of etiquette, I now have to reform my understanding of value in relationships.
It’s all very heavy, but it’s time for a reckoning. No one wins in the current situation. I have to abandon the thinking that if I do something that makes other people happy, then that will make me happy. From now on, my actions should depend on my answer to: “if I do this, will I still be happy, even if no one else is?”