I went to therapy today, and half-way through I realized something. I give and I give and I give but I rarely get. It’s such a tiring way to live, to never be on the receiving end of a relationship, to always be the one giving to it.
As a teacher all I do all day is give. And give. And give. And give. I give to students who don’t even want to get, who fight against my attempts to give. I give to parents who don’t think I’m giving enough. I give to administrators who create teaching situations in which I can’t possible succeed. All I do is give, and at school I almost never get. It’s exhausting.
As a mother I also give. And sure I get, in the form of sweet smiles and excited hugs and (infrequent but amazing) grammatically incorrect declarations of love, but the day to day giving is hard to maintain, especially when I’m performing the brunt of it. I’m not trying to complain about how much I give to my daughter, because she is obviously worth it, but it is hard to maintain that constant movement of energy outward, when there is so little time to replenish it.
I think, actually, the part of my life where I’m most disappointed with the ration of giving to getting is in my marriage. I give so much to my partner and most days I feel like I don’t get very much back. I give of way more time and effort to my partner and our family than he does (and he would absolutely agree with that). I give so much to him, I do so much to try to make him happy and I don’t feel I get that same consideration from him. When I want something I have to ask for it. I take Isa to give him personal time at least two times a week, but I have to ask for every moment away. Can I go to yoga? Does it work for me to go to therapy tomorrow afternoon? Do you mind if I see J and BB this weekend? I promise I won’t be gone long. It creates a dysfunctional dynamic, one that is not conducive to the kind of relationship I want to have.
My partner really isn’t very good at giving. He doesn’t even give me many hugs or kisses. Heck, he doesn’t even give gifts at birthdays or Christmas. The man just doesn’t give much.
That isn’t totally true. He gives his time to be with me and our daughter. Every once in awhile, when he has the energy, he cooks dinner for us. He gives a lot of time and energy to his music website/podcast. He gives a lot to his work, to a cause that is deserving of his considerable efforts. He definitely gives, but I feel like I’m on the bottom of his giving totem pole.
I’m probably being silly. Of course I get from people, sometimes it’s just easy to overlook that stuff. My mother, for one, is ALWAYS giving to me. She gives me food, she gives me the packages I had sent to her house. She gives me her time and energy when she watches my daughter, sometimes for two or three days at a time. My mother does nothing but give to me. I wonder if she feels the same way, that every takes from her and no one stops to give her anything back? I have to start rectifying that ASAP; my mom deserves better than that.
And so do I, and I don’t know how to get it. I’ve already asked my partner for more support at home. Heck, I’ve already asked for more showings of affection, more hugs and kisses and saying I love you. I’ve asked for that multiple times, but it’s obviously not his way. And I know the work balance at home is never going to change. We’ve tried to rectify the imbalance SO MANY TIMES. It’s just not going to be any different than it currently is.
I want to make clear, that I don’t think I give more than other people in the world. I have just been thinking of ways I can nourish myself lately and I’ve come up against the difficulty (or impossibility) or doing that when I’m spending so much of my time in the service of others. How do I give myself what I need when I’m always giving other people what they need?
It doesn’t feel like I’m asking for too much, and yet my requests seem impossible. I just wish that in more relationships I could get as much as I give.
Do you feel like you give more than you get? Do you wish you could get more than you do now? Do you think that is even possible?