I noticed something interesting this past week as I spent time with my family as they took time off for the holidays. I know they mean well, making the effort to take time off of work and planning a dinner to get the family together while we sit, eat and catch up with each other’s lives. One would expect that atmosphere to foster a loving and caring environment when in reality all it did for me was sap me of the little energy I had left which just made me tired and grumpy.
I was able to minimize all of my interactions Saturday night and all day Sunday, giving myself a chance to boost my energy as in I sat in my room with the radio on and spent hours cross stitching. Now that my energy boosting retreat is at it’s end, I’ve actually been able to think about why the actions that my family consider to be showing love doesn’t come across as love to me.
I started by recalling what I had learned in a class I had taken during my last semester of school, the instructor had spent a good chunk of time discussing an idea called the 5 love languages. This suggests that there are 5 basic ways in which people feel love and that different people are more receptive to different ways of showing love. I started by trying to recall which of the love languages were my most dominant so I ended up retaking the love language profiling test at http://www.5lovelanguages.com/. My profile was surprisingly accurate with the ranking of my different love languages. Both physical touch and quality time tied for being my dominant love language by a long shot. Words of affirmation ranked slightly higher than acts of service and receiving gifts both of which tied for being my weakest love languages. With this knowledge, I delved in to see in which languages my family speak love.
Physical touch: there were the hugs that are mandatory so that the appropriate kiss on each cheek can be done. No one really wants to do it but it’s expected of us so we do it anyway and I don’t particularly enjoy it. I’ll admit I can also be picky about who I actually let touch me in general. I only actively look for hugs from people who I’m very comfortable with because when I get/give a good hug I tend to let myself be vulnerable for that moment. I don’t like feeling vulnerable, especially in front of my family so I’m preventing myself from feeling love from them through physical touch.
Quality time: there was a family dinner, ten of us got together at our favorite restaurant and spent two hours eating and talking. So yes there was quality time in general but I really don’t do well in groups of more than 3 people. I can thrive one on one (as long as the other person helps keep the conversation going). Most of the time I can do well with 3 people, I can even do well with 4 people if I get along really well with all of them (if not I tend to just fade into the background and just listen). It’s too much for me to have to interact in a group of 10 people so I tend to just listen and people watch.
Words of affirmation: definite no. I’m actually getting a lot of discouraging and disappointing words from the majority of my family. Words of affirmation don’t exist.
Acts of service: my parents are providing the basic necessities of housing and food at the moment so I suppose they are doing me an act of service. I would really love to be out on my own but since that isn’t currently feasible for me, it’s something I’d rather not have to accept in my life but I do anyway.
Receiving gifts: I got a bag of chocolates and lottery tickets from my aunt (I totally ended up winning $11, it was exciting times). This one seems to be the favorite way to show love from my family as they’re always trying to give me things, trying to look after me. So this is how my family shows love, through giving me gifts. It’s no wonder I tend to feel unloved by the family, they are speaking the love language that is one of my weakest languages.
The biggest thing I learned from all of this is that I need to make more of an effort to understand that when my family is giving me something, it’s how they’re showing me love and that they care. I need to start appreciating the gesture and the effort behind the giving of the gift so that I can start feeling love from them. We shall see how it goes.
Until next time,