Been thinking a lot about nurturing. What I give, and why–who I choose to support emotionally.
For the first half of my life, my goal was to stay quiet and dodge harm. I was different from the people around me in what I needed, and my differences were not understood and respected. So my solution to all that harm was to hide.
The second half of my life, I began to realize that if I didn’t speak my truth, no one would. I could slip through the world, silent until I died, or I could speak up.
I used to think the world was full of enough noise, so I didn’t need to say anything. Then I realized most people aren’t telling the truth. So there’s a need for me, after all. This quote helped me understand that it’s actually rare and special, to tell our truths, and that my truth is needed.
“Your silence will not protect you,” by Audre Lorde is important to me also. That quote was the bumper sticker on my vehicle for some years. Oh yeah, after Eve Was Framed, and maybe before I’ll Be Post-Feminist in the Post-Patriarchy.
With context about death, it helps even more.
I used to think I had no worth, so it was ok for me to be treated unkindly. The only way I knew how to be loved was to sacrifice myself; I thought if I gave everything and had no needs, I might be loved.
Love doesn’t even work that way. But I’m still learning that I have worth, and I don’t exist to sacrifice myself for the well-being of other people.
It’s a bad habit, especially with white guys. My dad was a white guy, and I learned from my mom that a woman’s job is to serve the men who abuse her. You’d think that’s such a load of shit, I could just say, “That’s preposterous,” and move it aside–push it out of my mind, like the laughable ridiculous bs that it is. But some things you learn since you were born can be impossible to get out of you!
Damn, I’d know! I’ve been trying to eradicate that turd of falseness for a long time. I try to think of many ways to tell myself not to give too much to white guys! Luckily Ming is not white and not a guy–he’s Asian non-binary. But there are a lot of white guys in this world, and some creative brilliant ones, I can get curious about, and give too much.
What’s too much? That’s up for debate. One day at a time, as they say. Today, I can choose not to give too much to white guys. Today, I can choose not to comfort someone, that he hurt me.
actual thing that’s happened to me tons of times:
me: When you did that inappropriate thing, I was upset, destabilized, derailed from my life’s work. Can you not do that again?
wg: I did no bad thing. You’re wrong for being hurt.
me: But no one else does that to me, only you. And I’ve worked on seeing it other ways, and changing my own behavior, but it still hurts me a lot.
wg: You feel too much. You’re inappropriate. I never do bad things. You ask too much, so you’re a bad person. I withdraw my love, now.
me: Ok, I’m sorry. I’ll try harder not to be hurt.
wg: How dare you say that I hurt you. You’re toxic and cruel.
me: I’m sorry–you didn’t do anything wrong. I’m sorry I accused you of hurting me. You’re kind and good!
White guy is cold for three days, then warms up to me when he seems out of danger. I’m painted into a smaller and smaller corner. My needs and feelings don’t matter, and I’m extremely confused about what’s reality. Then I wish to die. But forever I am bad, and he is good.
There can be a shorter version too–I say I’m hurt, so he explains how he’s not hurtful. I say, ok, I guess so. He says he feels bad, and I comfort him, for hurting me.
Wow, yes, That was a close one. You almost had to admit what you did and change your behavior to be kind to another person. Vulnerably nurturing someone–that would have been a tragedy.
Part of my bad habit is bending to what another person needs, when they bend nothing for me. I used to think only sociopaths would take and take, manipulating someone into existing to serve them, while bending back not at all.
Then I realized that many, many people will take all they can. They take my skillful, lovingly offered nurturing, while giving back as little as possible. It’s kind of normal. It’s what capitalism teaches us to do–the definition of a good deal!
Many people don’t think love is fun–aftercare, listening, mutuality, reciprocity, honest communication. They think relationships exist for them to receive affection, praise, gifts, support, resources, nurturing, convenient pleasure.
How lucky for them! It’s not a collaborative endeavor of mutual nurturing to strengthen both of us to do God’s work. It’s a shitshow of their needs mattering, and my needs half-mattering, half the time.
So then I’m strung along, getting a few needs met, but working overtime, helping the other person. I would think if I just gave more, I would earn love. If I tried harder, they would see my value and decide to prioritize me and give me what I was asking for. Hmm, if only.
who I nurture
These days, I’m trying out being more selective about who I nurture. I maintain a friendship priority list, which helps. But it also helps to be clear with myself about whether reciprocity is happening, and choose not to give energy to people who don’t reciprocate.
I have a bunch of friends who give back, are there for me, and treat me like I matter. Things feel 50-50ish with them. I try to give my energy to myself, Ming, and these mutual ones.
For a while I had the feeling “I only have two tits” and thought I was spread too thin with my projects. Now I see–those few people I was supporting who didn’t reciprocate were sucking me dry. Life feels way better, when I nurture people who nurture me back.
I tried to grow extra tits, but that never worked out. Every day I can choose anew, to be kind to myself and do relationship in a way that’s not harmful to me.
Thank you to the people who see my value and are up for engaging me with honesty and integrity. I’m happy nurturing with you.