I’ve always been a giver.
When I was little I found an abandoned robin’s nest in our backyard between two pine trees. None of the eggs were cracked or damaged, and the nest was almost perfect. Despite falling from it’s original perch, it survived.
I brought the nest inside and made a new home for it out of a shoe box surrounded with bandanas, dish towels, and tissues. I put it directly underneath a lamp to keep the little blue eggs warm, and I became obsessed with the idea of raising my own baby robins.
But as much as I loved my hypothetical bird children, as much as I gave to try and save them, there wasn’t anything to do. Whether it was from their tremendous fall from whatever branch they’d previously been on, or because they’d been exposed to the elements just a little too long, or because their mama bird had left them alone, those little blue eggs never hatched. I remember sitting with my nose basically in the shoebox under the lightbulb, wishing and hoping to see some form of life. I remember giving all the love 7-year-old me had to give to these helpless little eggs, but nothing came from it.
Because, sometimes love simply isn’t enough, and giving it won’t get the things that you so desperately want.
During my first serious relationship I was volatile, I had a temper. I would say things I didn’t mean and drive my boyfriend towards yelling and screaming, which he hated. We would storm out of places, slam doors, say awful things to each other in the “heat of the moment”. Our fights would escalate to a place of cruelty I was embarrassed by, and they would always leave me feeling guilty for the venom I would spit his way because of feeling attacked.
But I would always feel bad.
I would show up at his house, apologies in tow, but also toting around presents to say I was sorry. I would buy shirts, cook, clean, buy video games, all with the unsaid sorrys attached to them. He joked that I tried to show my affection with money, and that I would always try to buy his love because it was easier than saying it. I would give and give and give to try and make up for all of the taking I did from being 21 and selfish.
But eventually, there wasn’t anything left for me to give him. He wanted a love I could not provide and so we parted ways with empty hands and even emptier hearts.
I’m currently more alone than I’ve ever been, yet I also think I’m more peaceful than I’ve ever been. The only people I give to are the voices I find so much inspiration from and want to nurture in my inbox, and to my dog who frankly, is perfect. I’ve spent the last year learning how to stop trying to give to other people, and instead just give to myself.
I think I’m so focused on the love I have for this new life, and for this new sense of balance that there isn’t any love to give to another person.
And you know what? I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
There is a weird sense of calm that comes with realizing that you’re more in love with yourself than anyone else. For the first time in my entire life I’m more focused on what I want, what I need more than anyone or anything else. I’m focused on a career that I love, making connections with writers I’ve admired for years, and really making sure that the person I’m taking care of first and foremost, is me.
I have no other love to give to anyone else at the moment, and I think that’s okay.
When you grow up as a giver, it can be easy to allow yourself to be picked clean. It can be easy to let yourself be walked all over and take care of everyone else instead of yourself. In being so giving, so generous, you save nothing for yourself and it can take a turn where you allow everyone else to be full while you are empty and wanting.
I’m being selfish and saving my love for the things that only I deem worthy and necessary. I’m only giving to the things that I feel like actually deserve to get me. It’s me first, them second. And that’s how it’s going to stay for a while.
But for the first time in a long time, I feel satiated. I feel full.
And that’s not only okay…that’s everything.