Many people are born nurturers. From the time I was little, I wanted to take care of, and teach, things; baby dolls, stuffed animals, my little brother, and , later on, other people’s children. As I got older, that concept of “taking care of” grew to something much more. I felt the need to protect and fix things…and people.
I wanted to be the classroom helper, the go-to friend, and the girl that could handle everything. I went to school, worked, hung out with friends, planned my future, and dreamed. I had it all figured out. I would become a teacher, get married, run my household, and have a bunch of kids all my own. We would live where there was lots of land for gardens and play-time and life would be, well, cozy.
I wasn’t even out of high-school before it all started to turn in a different direction. The problem is I didn’t see it. My nurturing ways got redirected to the guy I fell head-over-heels for. He was a guy that many girls wanted to date. He was good looking, funny, ornery, and playful. And, at some point, he finally noticed me. It didn’t take long for me to forget my friends, my family, and myself. My world revolved around him. If he didn’t like something, we didn’t do it. If he wanted me to spend time with him, I would leave whatever I was doing or had planned. If he said jump, I basically said “how high.”
Now, I will not sit here and say he was mean to me at the time. He really wasn’t. But, there were signs, even at the age of 16, which showed exactly where my life was headed. I was blinded to them because I didn’t want them to exist. Little comments to make me feel bad for not agreeing with him, threatening to break up with me if I argued with him, or making me feel guilty if I spent too much time with my family or friends instead of him. These are all signs of control and manipulation. This is not to say that these things don’t ever happen in a “normal” relationship, I’m sure they do. We are all human and do things to periodically hurt each other. The problem comes into play when they are ongoing and consistent.
What does this have to do with being a nurturer? Well, I wanted him to be happy and wanted to take care of him. So, instead of arguing with him, or leaving him when he made inappropriate comments or threatened to break up with me, I started to change my behavior to suit his wants. I was so wrapped up in making him happy, that I was willing to change my entire attitude to “care” for him.
This carried on into marriage as well. I wanted to give him a clean home, cook for him, and take care of his every need. Don’t get me wrong, these are all good things to do for the man you love IF he does not take advantage of the situation. You should want to do things for your spouse and they should appreciate all you do for them and reciprocate. But, he didn’t. He allowed, and later demanded, me to bend over backwards for him to the point of exhaustion.
Over the years, my wanting to do things became mandatory chores for the sake of peace. I would take care of things so he didn’t comment or because I felt I was not doing my job if I didn’t. And, with time, I resented all of it, especially the fact that I had pushed everyone, and everything, away, including myself. I lost “me” because all I cared about was him.