10/24/2005

Running on Empty

I've discovered, as I'm sure many of you have, there are two types of people in this world - givers and takers. I'm not sure when it is exactly that you become one or the other, but you will become one of these types, it's inevitable.

I became a giver at a very young age. At first it was with little things, I'd give the last bite of my candy bar to my brother who claimed to be starving. I'd give up my favorite doll to the cousin or friend that came over to play - even though I secretly wanted to keep her all to myself. When I was a gymnast my abilities came quite naturally and often I'd end up feeling bad for winning the medal so the next meet I'd purposely fall off the beam or take an extra step after my double full so my score would be less and someone else on my team could win. When I was a teenager, if I had a crush on the same guy my friend did, I'd graciously step aside so she could pursue him even if the guy really liked me. When I got older the 'gives' got bigger, most times not tangible items, but things that cost a whole lot more. I'd listen and offer advice, lend a shoulder or a hug to the friend crying over a broken heart. I'd be a friend even when the friendship fell into the background because of some new guy on the scene. I'd be there - no matter what. I suppose some of those things make me a good friend, the way friends are supposed to be, but when I look back at those things and think about what I got in return -I realize I gave and never took. Why is it that the givers never run into other givers? Instead they seem to search out the takers and let them take residence in their lives?

I'm in my thirties and I'm tired. I'm tired of being a giver. Can I turn my cloak in and get a 'taker' cape instead? Although I've often told myself that I'm going to stop being so generous - with my time, my money, my love....I never stop. I open myself up for the taking...and there is always someone there to oblige. Some say giving is part of love - but isn't taking part of it too? I hear people claim that it's supposed to be equal when you are in relationships, friendships or romantic, but honestly - it's never equal. There is always one person that forgives more often, one person that falters more often, one person that is selfish more often, one person that is selfless more often. There is always one person to be the giver, one person to be the taker. Why? Who raised us that way? Who can I blame for the fact that I give and give and give, and when I finally decide to take - there's no one there offering me their bounty? I sound bitter, maybe I am. Maybe I'm teetering on the edge of self discovery. Maybe soon, I'll figure out how to give while still keeping a tiny piece to myself. Maybe I'll be able to teach my daughter that giving to yourself can be much more fulfilling than taking from someone else. Maybe she'll learn that the only things in life worth having are the things we work for - not the things people hand to us on a silver platter. Maybe she'll be the only taker in my life that's worthy of everything I have to give. Maybe when I'm empty and I have nothing left to give, she'll fill me up with all the gifts I've passed along. Maybe there comes a time when we really can switch roles, lay down our 'giving cloak' and take residence in something else, something better. It makes me wonder though, what happens to the takers, the ones that never played the role of giver - who fills them up after they realize everything they have, everything they are - is make believe? I almost feel sorry for those 'takers' but that's just my giving nature.

22 Comments:

  1. sirreene said...
    the takers sit around in their big cloaks alone...the givers are surrounded in their cloaks with their loved ones under their wings smiling up at them.
    NewYorkMoments said...
    I used to be a giver. Until it got to hurt too much. Now I try to be neither as much as possible.
    it's all about me said...
    I liked that post. Heartfelt, as usual. It's a shame that it's usually the nicest people that are taken advantage of. Then again, maybe the act of giving is enough in itself, and those who take,take,take will have it come back to bite them on the bum at some point in the future. I hope so, anyway.
    WDKY said...
    Its funny, this giving and taking thing. You are what you are, you can't make yourself someone else just "because". I'm the giver of all givers, and you know what? It just makes me happy... sometimes ultimately, but always in the end.

    You'd be a fucking lousy taker, anyweay.
    Networkchic said...
    Yeah WDKY I guess you are right. Sometimes it makes me feel really happy, actually most times it does. But then some taker comes along and leaves me feeling empty. I think it happens to everyone, but it doesn't have to.
    deb said...
    It's that way in communication, too. There are talkers and listeners. I have always been a listener. I've had so many friends who are non-stop talkers and I think they seek out listeners. My mother and I always joke about one of my friends who calls me alot. Mom says "did you have a nice talk?" I say, "Mary had a nice talk, I had a LONG listen!"
    ... jacek ... said...
    Funny, i thought that there were three types of ppl in this world, pussies, dicks and assholes. Anyways, I know what you're talking about, i guppose I'd be a giver too, and you get screwed, but the thing is and this at least partially worked for me, I stopped caring, now I neither give or take, and simply dont give a shit, and feel much better all around. hope you work things out.

    - el
    Networkchic said...
    deb, don't you think the listeners tend to be the givers too? Somehow it seems to go hand in hand.
    Nunzia said...
    ah, i think we've all been there. keep heart.
    k o w said...
    Admittedly I give too much. Time for me to take.
    NML said...
    I thought that I give, but you take the biscuit! I don't blame you for feeling tired. It's not that you expect payback but if people don't recognise that you're worth giving to, what's up with that? {hug} Great post
    TJ said...
    count me in the giver category. I think it starts in childhood--as the oldest it was always stressed how I was supposed to look out for my younger brothers and sister. And soon I slipped into that role with my friends and in relationships.

    But after getting burned one too many times as an adult, the scales started to tip the other way. These days I'd like to think that it's balancing somewhere in the middle.
    Networkchic said...
    You know I hear a lot of the same things TJ and I guess I can probably say eventually I might end up on the same track, trying to balance the giving and taking. It has to make wonder though, do the takers admit to being takers or do they even realize they take at all.
    Sky said...
    You know, I think you and I are a lot alike. I want to turn in my "giver" cloak too...where can we find the "taker" ones.
    Blueprincesa said...
    funny how the givers always seem to know that they're givers, but the takers never know they're takers...

    I think ideally, love would involve both. There are people who don't know how to give, but there are people who don't know how to take too... agreeing to take opens you up to a different kind of vulnerability. What if you start to feel like you need what you are being given? What then?

    I don't know. But your post made me think of something somebody said (I forget who): "The only love you keep is the love you give away." It mades sense to me, anyway.
    Blueprincesa said...
    I mean, it "makes" sense. I can't type worth shit.
    SL said...
    I'm a giver. Yes, it's exhausting, but the rewards outweigh that. Eventually. I think. Am I kidding myself?

    Either way, you can't change what you are, NC.
    daria l'orange said...
    I think it's a matter of what you were raised to be.

    being a giver only starts to be bearable once you realize you also have the power to give and not want (under any cirumstances) anything back. gives you all the control, eh? :)

    now take this: [greatpostthumbsup]
    Sky said...
    "The only love you keep is the love you give away." was posted by blueprincesa and I think I have to disagree with that. As a giver, we give all the time and it is never appreciated, never returned and it sure as hell hasn't gotten me anywhere. When it comes to men, it has gotten them to come back months/years later because the grass wasn't greener on the other side...ummm a bit too late assclown! I am exhausted too from giving all the time. The problem is I don't know how to take and feel guilty if I do take...so that leaves me in a no win situation *sigh.
    Networkchic said...
    I really don't agree with that statement either. I don't believe the only love is the love you give away. What about the love you have for yourself? I do believe that if you cannot love yourself, you will never be able to love someone else. This morning my 20 month old daughter learned to say, mommy loves alice, alice loves mommmy. God that made me so thankful that I was a giver...it's funny how you can regret it one moment and be so thankful for it the next.
    unforgiving b*tch said...
    I've always been a giver and I think it's because my mother was also that way and that's just how I grew up. I don't know anything different and it would seem odd to suddenly start being more of a taker now.
    VI said...
    I think... some people ask for what they need... and people give it to them.

    Others, may or may not know what they need... but they never ask for it.
    When they don't ask for it, they don't get it. Not because their friends aren't their friends, as much as their friends aren't mind readers.

    Try asking for what you want or need...
    and try accepting what you deserve and see if it changes for you.

    that is all.

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