"I am large. I contain multitudes." - Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Sadness and Freedom

I was searching for an apt quote to sport this entry but didn't find anything close to what I wanted to write. So I guess my own sentences will have to suffice.

I had wanted to write to you about freedom, the kind of freedom you give to yourself.

I have of late been consumed internally with how I interact with the people I let into my life. That's a bad thing in the sense that I already live with so much introspection I feel, but I was engulfed by this, like I had no choice. Or even if I did have a choice, I became convinced that it would be best to just face the music on this one now as opposed to postponing the seemingly inevitable encounter later on in my life.

Here's the big news flash: I am surrounded by takers. Not the scheming ones you see on TV or the movies, who think nothing of plotting to get their way. Just people who take without a thought, almost to the point of entitlement. Mind you, they don't mean any harm yeah. They are just thoughtless. But in an innocent way.

My friend C says that I am by nature a giver, and I see where she's coming from. And mind you, it's not that I'm all Mother Teresa and everyone's just wanting to suck the life blood out of me, no. It's just that in this world, there are givers and there are takers and we all have a tendency to lean towards one or the other. It's not that one's better than the other. Just different.

As someone who is in many ways a giver, I run the constant risk of becoming a doormat to my friends and family. In many ways I am already there. I've lived in this zipcode for so long that it doesn't feel weird or strange anymore. As long as it's not neurotic, just noticing it can help me learn to deal with others better, especially the takers.

Takers in my life come to me to get something from me. They usually need something from me and with a few, I can barely stop myself from asking "So what do you need from me now?" Takers come to me because they want to talk. Oh how they love to talk! Which sort of works because I like to listen. It only gets deranged and unhealthy for me when I venture to share a bit of who I am and the taker I'm conversing with pays no attention whatsoever to what I said and steers the conversation back to herself/himself. When that happens, I just notice it, and make a mental note that this friendship doesn't require my utmost engagement and recognizing that, I just turn up the way takers want me to turn up in their lives.

I have, in recent past, paid heed to my wise friend C's advice when it comes to my dilemma as a giver surrounded by takers: "Don't invest," she says. And I'm taking that to mean that I still turn up, sure, but at my convenience and in the way that I am expected to turn up. As long as I don't lose myself in the entanglement and still feel I have gained something from the encounter, then why not?

I do have to be wary of becoming too disengaged to the point of hiding who I am.

Why not just leave these people, you may ask. Good question. I guess it's because I can't bear not to be there for someone who needs my help.

For the most part, I've recognized the people who take, who empty me of my spirit when I try to open up to them. It is sad and heart-breaking to realize that some friends don't really want to get to know me. But it is liberating too, for my heart. Freedom doesn't always come with euphoria. But I can live with that. I think freedom is worth the sadness.

Many times too I'm learning not to take things too personally. Like when friends forget something I said ad nauseum or shared in confidence. Mind you, I'm not there yet. But I'm learning.

Then I think of those who genuinely want to get to know me and keep my friendship. Those who love my company, snarky and all. Those who need nothing from me but my presence. Those few hearts whom I trust and who trust me. This is my riches, Lord. Please take care of each of them. Bless them for wanting or needing nothing from me. For I would do anything for them. I give them something I treasure: my time, my heart, my trust.

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