Turning Selfless into Selfish

The last month or so has been hard.  I have not been in a mentally good place. I had been trying – seeking to find – what was going to snap me out of this funk I have been in. This funk caused by several things – but mainly the fact I’m bored.  I have too much time on my hands – and not enough filling it.  Layer in some fun personal drama (like the family one I described a few weeks ago as well as the girl scout stuff), and I just feel like I’ve been sucked into a negativity, whiny black hole – unable to escape.

I started wondering when I’d ever find joy again – find happiness.  Have a day where at the end, I would actually say “I had a good day”.

It had been too long.

Friday morning, I read a post that Jade wrote – a very personal one in which she was examining her own funk with her own situation.

And a light bulb came on over my head – I saw the light and heard it click.  Especially when I read this line:

“Me loving you does not obligate you.”

While in the funk, I would get frustrated with people around me.  I couldn’t help thinking about how many times I had cared about what they were going through and tossed them a life preserver.  Where was mine?  Did they not care about me?
This slippery slope argument I would have with myself in my head would just land me right back in the funk – just a bit deeper at times.
But this line – that whole post – made me find my own life preserver.
Everything I have given my friends and family – the people I care deeply about – was given as a gift.  It was an act of selflessness – and my thinking as of late was making it look less selfless and more selfish.

As someone who prides herself in not being a game player, who prides herself on looking at the big picture, who prides herself on the fact I do not keep score with people but measure relationships in other ways, I was doing all of the things during my funk that I swore I never do.  
Because here is the thing, I offer a shoulder to a friend, I give it freely.  I don’t do it thinking ahead to when they will do it for me – obligating them to do it for me.  I do it because I have a friend who needs a shoulder, who needs a hug, and it is something I can give them because I care about them.  That is why I do it – not for what I can get out of it later.  There were never any strings attached to my acts and my words.
And this light bulb that appeared when I realized I was doing this, shined a light on all of the people I had been doing it with in my head – including G.  I had said to him the day before this moment “where did I go? I feel like I lost myself somewhere in the past couple of months.”  I apparently got dragged into the cave with my lizard and have been keeping it company in that bad place.  The place where selfless gets turned into selfish with a few strings attached after-the-fact.
I seem to have discovered something about my lizard at least; it hates light.  
And more light bulbs came on than just that one.
I also realized while reading her post that I, like her, tended to project my own abilities to multitask onto people who cannot.  Even when they say “I can’t handle anymore on my plate”, I get pissy and feel like it is a copout.  I mean, I have a much bigger plate and I can handle more.  I do this to G all of the time, for example.  I can see the forest for the trees, why can’t he?  Why do I always have to see the big picture and be the one that halts the idea?
He can’t because HE IS NOT ME.  
Just like when Domenico says ” I am out of bandwidth”, he is saying it because he truly has no more he can manage without screwing things up – and with him, I have learned it means he is likely a bit past what he can manage.  I know that about both of them, yet,  I was not acknowledging or accepting it.  In fact, I did just the opposite – got pissy at the excuses – tried to interject my own approach onto their issues – not in a helpful way, but in a way that dismissed what they were struggling with.  At the same time, I was rejecting who they are simply because they were not like me in those situations.  
This light bulb made me realize how much stress and frustration I put on myself by simply not accepting people as they are, but instead try to project my own skills or abilities onto them.  And each time it happens, I blame them out of my own frustration.  I get frustrated instead of acknowledging how they look at things and figuring out how we can make something work.  What a great friend and partner I am?  
Since Friday morning’s epiphany, I have had two great days.  I have been happy. I have been more me than I had been in a while.  People are noticing. My weird conversations are shrinking.  I have been having great moments with people I care about.  Moments that are gifts to them, and gifts from them.  No strings attached from the past or present – selfless, in the moment, acts that I freely give.  Not because I’m trying to be better than anyone else, but because it is who I am with those I care about.  
No strings to get tangled in – no obligations being passed out as part of these moments.
Because the best kinds of moments are when people give freely to me.  The best moments are those given not because they feel they have to give them, but because, like me, they feel it in their heart that they want to do it because they care and they can give to me.  
I have borrowed these words from another friend one other time, and I feel compelled to do it again:  I am very happy that Jade’s words found me.  I am glad they triggered so many light bulbs to come on and show me where I was looking at things wrong.
It’s amazing how great things look when you are standing in the light.

One Comment Add yours

  1. John and Ann says:

    Emmy,

    What an insightful post! I think we all do this from time to in one form or another. Your recognition of this in your life and meaningful descriptions will make it a little easier for me to see it in myself.

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