This probably won't come as a surprise, but I love hosting parties and dinners, the prep work, the cleaning, the staging, the whole enchilada. I, more or less, exited the womb as a retiree. I wanted to be a grown up as soon as I could comprehend what the hell that meant. No slight to my parents, but I couldn't wait to move out and take care of a house. As a little girl, I had them remove my bed and put the pull out sofa in my room, so it felt like an "apartment." I never connected with cartoons, instead preferring the likes of Mork and Mindy and Laverne and Shirley. I played games like "teacher", and "librarian", and "waitress." A real hoot and holler of a kid. You can imagine all the raging fun that goes on in our house now that I actually am an adult. My poor husband and children. I'm not that bad, it just has to be "clean" fun, as in literally clean. Reading books, favorite activity.
I digress from my original point. Hosting shit. There's an element of planning, always a win in my book, and then you have the execution which, without a doubt, floats my boat. I'm a bit of a raging bitch in the final moments, because of the self induced pressure to perform, but it's nothing that Sean can't handle with a swift removal of the children for a long drive in the car until I've wrapped up. He's learned that one can find something pleasurable and want to continue doing it, even while appearing to not be enjoying the process. Most of all, he's learned it's best not to point that part out. Just take the kids and get in the car. Don't come back until the floor is washed and my hair is dry. Then I pour myself a little glass of wine, and I'm a pleasure to be around. I'm in it for the build up and the slow unfolding. Love. It.
So, this retiree by nature wasn't something I was aware of until the last few years. Obviously, the older I've gotten, the older I've become, as in at 20, I was probably akin to a 35 year old. Now, at 40, I'm like 60. That math doesn't work, but it's an accelerated process as you age, says me. Anyway, I assumed everyone was like me, as I think most of us do until we realize differently.
This caused internal struggle for me, because I was going above and beyond, on the regular, and not noticing much, if any reciprocation. My first assumption was that people didn't like me. We're not just talking about cooking dinners, this is friendships, boyfriends, husbands, you name it. If I was going to all this trouble for them, and they weren't responding in kind, they must not care much about me one way or the other. I think I spent a good decade rolling around in that assumption.
It took a long while for me to realize a couple pretty imperative things.
Everyone is not like me. And, praise be for them, because it's a hell of a lot of work. Beyond that, they aren't really even giving me much thought. We're all pretty damn wrapped up in our own existences. Sure, we talk a lil' shit here and there about each other, but the amount of energy put in pretty much ends there, and if it doesn't, whatever your hang up is about someone else, it probably has more to do with you than them. Time for you to do some uncomfortable soul searching.
The other crucial realization I had was that I wasn't doing shit for anyone else, making elaborate dinners from scratch wasn't an ode to my guests. Bringing my husband breakfast in his office and reorganizing his closet wasn't for him. It was for me. I was doing it because I wanted to and enjoyed the process. Whether it's appreciated or reciprocated is neither here nor there. The minute I took that bit out of the equation was the moment I upped my enjoyment factor even more. It removed pressure and the possibility of resentment.
A book that really moved me along in this process was "The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz. I can't stress enough what an important read this is if you are a human. No one is immune from the lessons within. I read it a couple times per year, because I require constant reminders of how to operate without resentment. If you're a giver, this is a must do for you as well.
Taking a long hard look at yourself hurts sometimes, most times, but the growth that you stand to gain makes every ounce of pain worth it. It's so easy to point the finger at the other. I've done plenty of it. Ultimately, how we respond to our experiences is what shapes our world. Taking responsibility for our perspective is empowering and it is, hands down, one of the best gifts we can give to ourselves.