(the misadventures of an expatriate corporate dropout)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

learning to accept kindness.

One of the lessons I've been (albeit) slowly learning from this experience is to accept kindness. For my entire adult life, it seems to me that I have had to be ... no that I have insisted upon being fiercely independent. To the point of being found hard. Or angry. Or a bitch. Or all three, ha.

But being plopped into the middle of a country where you know virtually no one and don't really speak the language is a humbling experience. I had a small taste of it when I moved to Portland and found one or two dear friends who extended kindnesses to me. Maybe that helped pave the way on a small scale.

My friends Kathleen and David just left, and one of the observations that Kathleen made was how gratifying it was to see me reflect vulnerability. That apparently is an unusual state for me. (like I was unaware).

It is very difficult for me to ask for help. Or to accept it when offered. Typically when someone offers to do something for me, I attempt to pay them for it. I've found that can be deemed insulting in these here parts. So many kindnesses have been placed my way that, even if I could get acceptance, I probably couldn't afford to repay them.

I also seem to have lost touch with what are normal extensions of human goodness. Had I isolated myself so completely that day to day gentilities were unrecognizable by me? so it seems.

One would think that in my present state, I would be even more isolated than previously but no. This brings me to a point of reflection (ergghh, I hate reflection.) How did I get to be so insular? better question yet, how can I bring more balance back?

My mind is in a constant whirrrr! of analysis. What did he/she mean by that? Did I understand her/him to say thus or am I lost in translation? Am I mistaking business for love(like)? (Like)love for business? (Ben Harper fans will connect this last). One might think that it wouldn't be so difficult but it is. Especially in another language. and culture.

Are these kindnesses politeness? or true demonstrations of heartfelt feelings? And let's not even GET into the male/female dynamic and is it the same with French as American (which of course I know it isn't 100% due to culture, but surely we are male and female before we are French and American?)

I think that last bit is a good spin off for a post all its own.

Well before I digress into a completely different direction, let me say that a 3rd party observer has verified that I am learning to accept kindness without repayment, but as a natural extension of the human condition. No matter how undeserving I believe myself to be.

I hope that is a good thing and it doesn't come back to bite me in the ass. (looks over her shoulder just in case).


La Framéricaine said...

Kindred spirit!

If I were not sitting over here on the Left Coast of the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave with a blahg called Halfway To France. I might think I was having an out of body therapeutic experience and get my old, hard-ass, bitchy, give but don't take, no help thank you very much, I can do it myself, self confused with your lovely story of the encroachment of kindness and generosity of spirit contributing to a new feeling of humility and vulnerability.

I could not be happier for you. I wish you well as you continue to discover new things about yourself with the help of your friends and family, new and old.


La Belette Rouge said...

I love that you are not only learning to accept kindness but that you are so committed to learning this important like lesson that you have have created an entire tag category for it. That, mon amie, is impressive!!!

Utah Savage said...

Your childhood is the reason for this inability to accept kindness and generosity without feeling you need to pay for it. I suffer the same problem. I cannot accept without reciprocation. If I can't reciprocate, I can't accept. It's a hard equation to unlearn. Keep working on it.

Randal Graves said...

There better be room in that boat for one more. I hate not being able to repay kindness, gifts, all that crap. Just don't give me anything dammit, and we'll get along, well, maybe not fine, but I won't want to stab you.

I can't imagine having to deal with that. I don't know how you'll do it.