I’ve been trying to work out just why I think that I am expected to clean the kitchen, help everyone with everything, whatever, when I am obviously not so expected. I think I’m getting it.

If you want people to believe, right to their gut, that you care about them, do little things that show them you do. If you want people to like you, do little things that indicate they ought to. Clean up after yourself. Help — with anything, not just things that you get a payoff for. Ask what they care about, and listen. Remember what they said later and ask for updates. Offer to be company for housecleaning or doctor’s visits.

It’s not just for sharing how I feel about someone. It is also useful for showing what sort of a person I want to be perceived to be. One of the phrases most often heard from me is, “How can I help?”

This isn’t manipulative fakery. This is non-verbal communication. Words talk; actions shout. Something like that.

…What does this have to do with why I won’t give myself time?

Show I care, show I’m a good person: clean up, cook, listen, cuddle, be available for idle chat, read what the boy writes, take part in all the little things around the house, help when Othello is on a project, help when Bridgette works in the garden….

I need to spend six hours a week at the gym. What do I give up on that list?

I need to spend six hours — or, ideally, more — writing. What else leaves the list?

If I aren’t showing I care, showing I’m a good person for 12 hours a week…do I care less? Am I less of a person?

I am so centered in communicating that…if I’m not broadcasting with my actions 24-7, I seem to believe that my worth as a human being suffers, and my basic desireability and worth as a person declines.

Clearly this is something that fell out of the back of a horse. That doesn’t change my feelings, though.

I don’t require this of the people around me. If I’m on my way to the doctor’s office, if I’m going to fiddle in the kitchen or work on the truck or whatever, I don’t even necessarily WANT an offer of help. I know that the people who care about me care about me even when they aren’t actively hugging me, listening to my endless shite, helping me with the dishes, or maneuvering me off to Writer’s Weekend. I’ve experienced my loved ones and trust that I know who they are, and continue to love them when I am not showered with attention.

Ugly thought: Don’t I trust them to do the same with me? Is this a control thing, doing everything I can to make them love me?

:stops to think about that:

I don’t think so. If I had mind control abilities (the extreme case I just considered) I would still need to act the way I do. I think this behavior started when I was a teenager, and was intensified to self-destructive levels during the Time of Troubles with Zelda. With Zelda, words were pointless, so I redoubled my efforts at demonstrating that I cared.

…and Zelda was truly virulent, which splashed onto the rest of my life, and I felt I had to demonstrate to everyone else that I cared about them while they were being neglected/abused/actively reviled….

…which eventually turned into the handle that Zelda needed for my behaviors, I think (a new thought to me, just now). All she had to do was throw a fit and I’d spin into a flurry of behaviors to try for just one communication that got through to her untwisted.

Which eventually, I think I see, resulted in self-destructive goals. “If I love, I will stay.” “If I love, I will forgive.” “If I love, I will eat bile-stewed shit every day of my life.” My actions were loud and clear, but what I was actually saying with them was, “I must feel that I need to be punished to stay here and take this from you, so your suspicions must be correct.” I’ll just not smack myself in the forehead for miscommunication; it’s a few years late.

Neither here nor there, at this point, but interesting and useful (I think, for some reason) to know where it is coming from and where it went awry.

So, what’s to do?

I’m still working on that. It could be that, having recognized what I am doing, I will have the ability to stop. Frequently that is the case, for me. But I’ll think about it for a bit, just in case I can think of something else to do, as well.

The score so far is, since I started to think these things, I have been taking care of me, writing some, not overworking…I seem to have the will to act to change my behaviors, once I know what I’m supposed to do. As always, we’ll see.

Crossposted from Epinepherine & Sophistry