Congrats to my boyfriend for guessing the previous post’s quote (are we surprised? Not me!). As promised, the person who guessed correctly also got to pick my theme for this weeks post. I got a few options and eventually settled for the one that I was most unwilling to write about, because generally when you’re hesitant to write about something, it’s because you have a lot of questions/emotions regarding this thing, and so if you write about it, it will inevitably become very interesting.
Ha ha ha ha ha.
No, but seriously. Knowing me as well as he does, he said “Maybe you should write about the problem you have with people doing things for you, and them giving you things”. What does he mean, you may ask? Well. For the longest time, since my early teens, I cringe inside whenever someone does something nice for me, or gives me something. I get this instant rush of guilt, of “Why are you doing this for me? Do you want something from me? Or do you honestly think I deserve this?”, and as soon as I’ve – less than gracefully – accepted the gift – less than gratefully = either saying “Thank you!” a hundred times, as if the person gave me something absolutely wonderful, or grumbling about why they would do something like that for me, and could I please refuse to accept? – my mind starts racing towards options that would help me somehow repay the person for the favour/present.
Through the years I’ve had lots of theories as to why I do this. One is that I have this need to be one step ahead. I need the other person to know that I love them more, that they mean more to me than I do to them, and unless it’s either in perfect balance or I’m ahead of them in this “game”, then I panick and sit in a dark corner staring at the gaping void which is my debt to this person.
OK, that’s a little over dramatic, but you get the point.
Another possible reason is I really do not feel like I’ve earned anyone’s kindness, that I don’t deserve anyone going out of their way for me. That I have not made myself worthy their love and their displays of affection, so the little person in my head that goes “dude, you are a really crappy person, it’s a fact” has a great big party whenever someone does something really nice for me. “Look!” he says. “Here’s this really awesome person doing something really nice for you. We both know you don’t deserve it, in fact you barely deserve being acquainted with someone this awesome, so I think you should feel really, really bad about yourself now. OK. You work on that and I’m just going to go make some tea.”
Either way, it’s something I can scarcely get past, no matter how hard I try. If someone gives me a compliment about how I’m a great person or how gorgeous I look, it takes a whole lot of willpower to just say “thank you” instead of “Uhm, is there a person standing behind me that I don’t know about?” or “You are mistaken, you just need to get to know me a little better”. If someone offers me a ride, I need to be able to give them gas money, or supper, or coffee, and if all else fails, a really big hug and an “I owe you one! Next time we have lunch it’s on me!”
The number of times I’ve snuck money into people’s bags and coats, the backseat of their car, dropped a bill on the floor so they’d have to pick it up or dashed to the cash so I can pay for the meal first are too many to count. The problem goes further where it takes quite a bit of effort to ask someone to do me a favour. To ask someone for a ride for instance, I first need to make sure it wouldn’t be a bother to them, and that I can give them something in return. To ask someone to pick something up for me from the store, I need to make sure I’m cooking them dinner later. If I want someone to look at something I’ve written, I need to at least do that for them in return, or maybe send them a “thank you!” card. When I lived in Canada, our aforementioned crazy downstairs neighbours turned out to be a hopeless case and there was never peace between our two households, but here’s a little story as an example for what I’m talking about.
One Christmas, I worked long hours at both my jobs, so I was never at home and when I was it was more or less to sleep or eat. I had no energy to get the house nice for Christmas, especially when I’d be spending so little time in it. So there were two or three decorations kicking around in the living-room, but no lights, no tree, no nothing like that. I really didn’t think much of it till the neighbours left a rather acrid note, where among other things, they said “Tell Amki to stop being such a grinch and put up some lights and have a swig of wine and maybe she’ll enjoy Christmas better”. This note made me cry. Sobbing I explained to my boyfriend at the time that I was as far as one could be from a grinch, that I in fact owned not one but TWO Santa-hats, and that on both my jobs I spread the most Christmas-cheer out of anyone. So first I wrote this really elaborate poem, that went something like this;
There once was a girl, who lived on your roof.
She thought that for Christmas, she needed no proof,
That she loved it so dearly, with a glee and a joy,
That only was seen in a wee girl or boy.
Her neighbours they said “we think you’re quite bad,
yes, like a mean grinch!” and it made her right sad.
For Christmas she’d wanted some glimmering lights
to put on her house, and spark in the night.
But she’d had no time in between Christmas-shopping,
Between present-wrapping and all the corn-popping.
She hoped everyone knew, that in her heart beamed,
A love for the season that practically gleamed!
And that no-one would doubt it, so bright and so strong,
That it lit up her Christmas and all the year long.
But then as I was about to put that on their door-step, I realised it was just too spiteful, and unless it left them completely unphased, I’d just make them feel guilty. So instead, I found some time to get Christmas-lights, put them up on Christmas-eve, and left a little basket of chocolates with a note and a drawing of the Grinch on it which said; “Look up! Merry Christmas!” This resulted in the crazy neighbour-lady bundling up the stairs with a hastily wrapped box of chocolates and an offer to have some of their Christmas-dinner the next day. Everything was back to normal a few days later when they found some other strange thing to complain about. But yes, that is how I tried to resolve a situation that had started with a rather nasty insult.
This trait of mine must be really annoying to most people. Mainly because I do so love giving people things, and doing stuff for others. Now, that’s not in general. I’m not a good Samaritan. Though I get a little burst of happiness every time I manage to help a perfect stranger in whatever little way I can. But that’s just the self-righteousness getting to my head. No. I just absolutely love giving things to the people I love, anything I can do to make their lives better, anything at all to make them understand how important they are to me. So when someone loves giving and doing things for you, but turns into this little cringing, pale, wide-eyed creature every time you try to do the same for them, it tends to get annoying in the long run.
So, does anyone else have this problem? Have you had this problem but managed to work through it to the other side, where you can accept things like a normal person and not feel a twinge of guilt? Do you have any suggestions? Would you simply like to say “Oh my, first world problems, poor you. Over dramatic nutcase”? Anyway, comments of any kind would be welcome.
Oh. And the same thing goes for this post’s quote as for previous one!