My current boyfriend Ryder bought me a new MacBook Pro for our 6 month anniversary which was about a week ago. He has gotten me the two most expensive gifts I have ever gotten (this laptop and a ninja motorcycle) since we’ve been together. These were not gifts that I explicitly asked for, which speaks a lot to his character. I have mentioned needing certain things as well as being interested in certain hobbies, such as learning how to ride a motorcycle. It means a lot to me that he listens to me and occasionally takes it into his own hands to meet me needs or manifest my desires. One reason why he decided to get me the laptop was because he accidentally caused a few minor issues with my PC when he thoughtfully replaced the keyboard by hand. There were a few things that didn’t work after it was put back together, like the internet. Others reasons are that I really did need a new computer regardless of the PC’s fate as it was old as death itself, and he’s a very generous person.
I go through this process where, at first, it feels a little weird if Ryder buys me something really nice, or something I can’t afford myself (which is most things nowadays). This also happens if someone gives me something or lets me borrow things as well (my roommate has also given/let me borrow awesome items like air-pods, and an apple watch). I think this discomfort occurs for two reasons. For one, I feel like no one (parents and exes) ever had enough “extra funds” to consider spending money on me. So if someone bought me something, it felt like a huge deal, because I was taking something away from them, which was money, a precious resource to some of us.
Secondly, I didn’t ever think anyone thought that I was worth spending a larger amount of money on, if they were able to. I recall my ex-girlfriend making sure I knew all the designer brands she liked, but I don’t recall her ever making the same effort to reciprocate gift giving. I ended up materially giving her a lot. Then, quickly learned all she was, was a taker. Taking stock from my interpersonal experiences, I learned to not want much because I knew, chances were, I would not get what I wanted. I remember, in the past, mentioning to my parents, friends, or significant others things that I was interested in or wanted for my birthday, graduation, or other significant events (I thought I had a better chance of attaining something for a special occasion). I was often disappointed. I suppose as a result maybe the false truth that “I don’t deserve nice things” started to settle in my brain. However, I now believe I do deserve nice things. Everyone does, as long as they take care of said things and don’t use and abuse others to get them.
When I had a full time job, I did splurge from time to time buying myself little gifts and clothes because no one else was going to! It felt so nice to receive packages or leave the mall with a few bags! I felt so deprived of being able to have new things. However, there is also another part of me that thinks that I can’t fully enjoy gifts unless they are gifts I purchase for myself. This is due to fear that if I upset the gift giver unintentionally (since I rarely try and upset someone intentionally), that the gift will be taken away. I’m sure this unhealthy fear is a result of how my parents raised me (taking away privileges and belongings if I was less than perfect). There was also my abusive ex who treated me poorly if I did not act exactly how he wanted me to. We were in the habit of eating dinner together at his off campus apartment, and one day when we got into an argument over something stupid that he no doubt initiated, he went downstairs, and made food only for himself. He then came back to his room where I was sitting, sat right next to me and ate in my face, knowing I was hungry. This is the kind of petty, manipulative behavior I had to endure with him. The message I received was, if I made him upset, he had the option of taking food away from me, and would do so gladly to make a point/punish me. In fact, he treated me like shit even if I was doing everything right. But that’s what happens when you date narcissistic assholes.
The same day Ryder and I picked up the new laptop, he walked me through setting it up and recommended a handful of apps. This process required quite a bit of patience from me. He was only showing me what apps he thought would be beneficial, but because I was unfamiliar with them, I felt resistant. I cooperated because logically, I knew that everything would be okay. It’s interesting how most times, when I am going through a change in my life, now matter how small, I may feel unsafe and triggered.
Lately the way I have been dealing with these feelings of instability and fear is to keep going, and by that I mean to not run away or shut down. I have also been making a conscious effort to allow myself to feel triggered, angry, sad, scared, etc. Trying to prevent myself from feeling the full spectrum of emotions is unhealthy and makes me feel worse than I need to. Repressing leads to anxiety and doesn’t allow those emotions to come and go in a natural rhythm. I also cannot understand these emotions and what causes them if I ignore them.
Ryder also introduced me to a website where I can learn how to make simple video games. I’m excited and intimidated at the same time. Learning new things is so emotional for me as of late. My therapist identified that I have a fear of failing. This fear has prevented me from trying new things and going after what I want. Now that I know this has been happening, I’ve been taking steps to push myself and take action despite this fear. I am going to take my time and slowly learn how to use this site. Part of my issue is that I try to rush things and become disappointed if I’m not super good at something right off the bat. I have to keep telling myself, it’s not realistic to be perfect at everything with no experience. It’s common sense, but starting from a young age I strove to be perfect at everything. Now I am breaking that belief that perfection is a must or even attainable.