You Gotta’ Make Deposits to Make Withdrawals.
One of my dear friends said to me today: “Life and friendships are a bank. You have to make deposits to make withdrawals. If you never deposit, eventually you will be unable to withdraw.” I love this friend so much.
She said this in response to me confiding a pattern I’d come to recognize in my relationships; one where it feels that I am usually the giver in relationships. Even my husband—who is incredibly giving and loving toward me—admitted that I don’t make it very hard for people to work for my attention, love, friendship, devotion.
Sooooo….I guess this is a theme.
See, my love language is allllllll about giving. I love to give—whether it’s acts of service, money, time, gifts, physical touch, storytelling, listening. All of it. I love it. I do it because it feels good to give love to people! And this is not relegated to close friends and family, either; I do it at work, with strangers, with people who are mean or rude to me. In friendships, I’m an active and participating friend. I regularly reach out, I share all my goings-on and happenings, and I love to hear all about what’s going on in my friends’ lives. This is a genuine personality trait.
There have been times in the past where I’ve recognized that people simply don’t interact like that—sometimes not even with their partners—which is absolutely foreign to me…and that is not said from a place of judgement, it’s literally something I don’t identify with at all. So it has admittedly taken my entire lifetime to dismantle this a bit and understand it from a larger perspective.
So far, here are the things I’ve learned from who I am and how people tend to respond to me:
- One of my absolute highest needs is to know and be known; to see and be seen, to hear and be heard. This is the driving force behind why I am so open and honest about nearly everything.
- It has taken me a lifetime to recognize that not everybody operates like this—we tend to think that everyone knows what we know, feels what we feel, and identifies the way we do—until we look at it, that is. And some people are even highly offended or put-off by my personality.
- People connect with me very quickly. This has caused me to have to learn how to be very careful with who I allow to be close to me or where I spend energy. Because as an empath, I can be drained quickly and swiftly.
- I’m a combination of an empath, a strong intuitive (some people ask me if I’m psychic. I’m not, at least I don’t think so!), and a warrior.
- I equally like time alone or time away as I like time with others. The only person I can be with for extended periods of time is my partner. And even then, I do enjoy time alone. Usually when The Muse comes calling.
- I have a difficult time not reading and responding immediately to any kind of instigated contact from others. Text messages have pretty much changed the circuitry in our brains—something evolutionary has taken place and is literally rewiring our neural pathways. Frankly, I don’t think enough people pay attention to this and we’re suffering because of it. The ding, or the message prompt, actually stimulates a release of serotonin, a “happy hormone”, which encourages us to immediately respond to the message. We seek the reward of that little ding. Dude. This is how you train lab rats. What we don’t realize is that we’re slowly reprogramming ourselves to be super engaged to this medium and it’s not actually healthy. But I’m like this when someone emails me, leaves a voicemail, or sends a PM in any other of a million different channels. As far as I can tell, it’s something about doing what’s polite and respectful; partially due to my upbringing, partially just how I show love. But the over-stimulation is quite exhausting and I’m learning that I cannot keep up. I don’t want to keep up. I’m saturated.
- I leave very little room for people to have to guess—what I’m thinking, feeling, learning—which is mostly about my valuing transparency, openness, communication, and relationship. To me, it is respectful not to play games so I’m honest about pretty much everything. I hadn’t realized what that looked like to others, nor that it wouldn’t be a benefit in many relationships. I have not realized how this can foster super-intense and fast bonding with others. I have also not realized that they don’t realize I do this with everyone because it’s who I am and so I can unintentionally hurt people when I don’t choose to stay close or when I’m not close 24/7.
- It feels like many people rely on me in an imbalanced way—like, I don’t often have friends reach out just to say they miss me, ask how I’m doing, circle back about something I shared. Sure, some people do. But the vast majority do not. Most interactions are initiated out of a need for something from me. I started noticing this probably 4 or 5 years ago and it’s very difficult not to see now. Similarly, most of the friends who are closest in my group don’t show recognition on special dates or anniversaries—even a simple “hey, I see you and I love you”. I’m not looking for a grand gesture, anything fancy or expensive; but it is something I feel. Especially if I’ve spurred outings or gifts for others in my group and it’s something that everyone picked up on and (mostly) regularly does for everyone else. Except me. For instance, there will be a rotation of doing birthday outings but I don’t think my group has done more than 1 for me. It’s okay. But I notice.
- I’m usually the first one willing to offer the best room on a vacation or the other person’s preference in restaurants or activities. I don’t feel this is equally given back to me.
- I’ve sometimes been on the phone with a friend for literally hours, sometimes multiple times a week or for a long period of time, helping them by listening or offering thoughts and insights, but I don’t feel that they would necessarily do that for me. Or they don’t think about the burden of emotional investment that that is. It can leave me feeling unseen and to slowly withdraw.
- It hadn’t occurred to me that the way I express love may actually encourage people to behave this way with me. So, you see? After my little list of gripes (this is also not something I like to do, complain about me…especially to an unknown audience…so you’re getting the VIP treatment here, kid!), I’m actually taking responsibility for my part in this dynamic. I desperately want to learn how to change this pattern in my life.
Does this resonate with you? If so, what have you done to mitigate this in your life? I know, I know—I need to go back to my therapist—and you’ll be happy to know that I just sent a request to a referral I got. See? Action, Jackson!
Thanks for reading. Please know that I’m sending strong encouragement to you (yes, you!) to make deposits into your own bank and let people come to you sometimes. Not because they need you, but because they want you. ❤