Relationships

On gift giving and self sacrifice

Olivia Epley

Founder of Millennial Girl, Interrupted, a senior in a small Connecticut high school. I've been through many treatments and recoveries and am eager to share the lessons I've learned!

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There is a quality of mine that I adore. It gets me into so much trouble and causes so much suffering, but I can’t lose it. It’s an inextricable element of my identity.

I’m the one who cares more. I’m the one who always gives. And that’s quite painful.

I was thinking back, the other day, to two winters ago. A casual school friend of mine was having a birthday, and I knew he was having a tough go of it. I also knew that he only wore one, singular, blue t shirt with a whale on it to school every day. So, I got him a gift for his birthday, a plain blue Vineyard Vines t shirt. I got nothing for my birthday but it didn’t matter.

The act of gift giving is almost erotic to me.

I do this a lot. I baked and iced a full set of cookies in an endeavor that took nearly twenty four hours over two and a half days to pull off. Each cookie was personalized to a teacher. This was to be their Christmas gift. I finally did it. My teachers, with the exception of one or two, were unsupportive throughout the year, and I had no obligation to spend so much time on their baked goods, but it wasn’t about them, it was about how I felt doing it.

I organized the Secret Santa at my old school. Three people had their gift givers flake. Two of those three were people who were either actively bullying me or friends with someone who was. Not wanting them to go without a gift, I bought three extra gifts so everyone would have one, with my own money.

Christmas is my grand event of the year, as you might imagine. My father is averse to presents, and has lost most we’ve given him, but that doesn’t mean I don’t try. I got an artist to paint our dog onto a hat that he never wears. I compiled a book of his favorite songs in guitar form and laminated it, getting my little brother to illustrate the cover, and it’s gone with the wind, now.

This phenomenon comes in a more harmful form when it’s extended to relationships.

I devote all of my time to my partner. I’m notorious for sacrificing any and all self worth and health for my partner, doing things like traveling 45 minutes every day to see them where they’re most comfortable, enduring inappropriate family situations so they can stay home, doing homework for them (yes, I helped him plagiarise!), refraining from asking for most traditional couple like activities because he didn’t care for them (imagine how crestfallen I was), meeting only his friends and never having him meet mine, meeting only his family and never having him meet mine, expecting me to believe a multitude of insane lies, and much, much more. That’s only in my most recent ex; the one before that, I endured endless physical and psychological abuse that I put up with for forced reasons.

See where I’m going with this?

This character trait dictates that I not just give to others, but self sacrifice. For some reason, my subconscious equates giving with sacrifice and isn’t happy unless I’m giving everything. Of course, it isn’t just on me. Any partner with any ounce of empathy or emotional intelligence wouldn’t have put me through the above. I’ve been told that bad luck factors into this, too. In a normal relationship, each partner will insist on reciprocation that results in an equal balance of giving and receiving.

That’s what I’m trying to build.
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One thought on “On gift giving and self sacrifice

  1. You are worthy of a wonderful partner and one day soon you’ll have one. These two you mention will be Gone with the Wind.

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