NaBloPoMo Day 26: Deck the Halls with Psychoanal Gifts
Today's excerpt from: Part one in my series on Giving and Forgiving
You can only control your own feelings about gratitude and generosity.
Gifts often come with a price tag, but perhaps not the one you would think of at first. I’m talking about those passive aggressive reminders that can keep you making payments indefinitely.
For the first few years of marriage, I would say, “I love you,” fully expecting “I love you, too,” in call and response style. I distinctly remember one day when my husband and I were cleaning out the garage, and I said it. I know he heard me, but for whatever reason, my husband didn’t respond.
I flew off the handle. I was yelling at him about his insensitivity, until I realized something. He was frozen in place like prey before a loaded gun, deciding whether to fight or run. And I began laughing in my head at the absurdity of what I was saying, while I was still yelling.
Then, I couldn’t hold back the laughter and out it came mid-sentence. My husband paused for a moment, and then joined in as I gasped my apologies through tears of laughter.
It was a laughter epiphany (my favorite kind.) I realized that I wasn’t saying “I love you,” to my husband. I was saying, “I need reassurance of your love.” I expected him to read through my words and give me what I needed in this passive aggressive transaction.
When I didn’t get my payment, my insecurity started tantruming in a way that would give a three year old pause. I should have said what I meant, instead of expecting a specific reaction. There’s nothing wrong with needing that reassurance, unless I expect him to figure it out without me telling him.
But, here’s the thing. I didn’t want to get married for a lot of reasons, including the idea of marriage as a contract for love. I believe that love should be given freely or not at all. If I can’t say, “I love you,” to someone without expectation of the affection being returned, then it’s not really love.
If I can’t stay or leave without legal ramifications, then I’m not staying freely. It was in this laughter epiphany that I made the connection between my views on love, friendship, gifts, work, service, parenting, teaching, et cetera.
Have you ever asked, “How Much Will this Gift Cost Me?”...
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