Sometimes I notice myself feeling an awkwardness or a disconnection when a person is spending time with me, like an anxiety or a self-consciousness, and I realize it’s because I’m afraid they’re bored or not enjoying themselves or that they’re staying with me out of obligation when they’d rather leave, especially when we’re out late. I can sometimes lean toward a habit where I’ll cut things early in a sort of “quit while you’re ahead” manner, which I’m remembering is something I’ve done as early as high school.
I’ve had to remind myself a few times in the last month or so to trust that if someone is spending time with me, they want to be there, and to trust that they’re also being responsible for minding their schedule and energy levels. I can remember many experiences in my 20s where I was looking forward to bringing someone somewhere, and then once we were there in the experience, I was convinced that everything about it was lame and that they were secretly just enduring it out of obligation. This possibly turns into self-fulfilling prophecy if I allow these thoughts to control the narrative, because then I act awkward and uncomfortable, because I FEEL awkward and uncomfortable, and it’s likely that the person picks up on my energy and feels uncomfortable in return. I make assumptions that a yawn means someone is bored, that too much silence means we’re not in flow, that if I’m not constantly entertaining and engaging then I’m a drag. Then I overcompensate by starting more conversations, and if they don’t engage with them, or engage halfheartedly, I beat myself up for talking too much. I also have a trigger around people failing to take responsibility for their schedule or work or sleep and then blaming me and ultimately punishing me, subtly or not, for keeping them with me for too long, weaving a story in their heads that they can’t trust themselves to be around me and still be responsible with their time, leading them to avoid me or to associate me with guilt or blame or failure, which of course flares up my fears of abandonment.
I don’t know where I started thinking of myself as a burden rather than a gift, but it’s pretty ridiculous of me to think that way when I have more and more evidence all the time of what a gift I am to the world.
What if I just… didn’t feel this way? What if I just trusted that however I show up is perfect, or at least perfectly fine? What if I allowed myself to deserve love that’s not conditional on how entertaining I am?
I’m giving myself permission to allow people to be clear about communicating their needs, and to assume that if they’re spending time with me, it’s because they want to.