Emotional Investments

I began this post a year ago to the day. The genesis came from a call to my brother after visiting my Dad; at that moment my brother was on my mind and I wanted to say hello to him. I felt in my heart to reach out to my brother based on a chapter in his life, a chapter I had once visited and today find myself still in the process of writing. On our call he mentioned that he was short of calling me at the same moment as he received a package I sent him along with my handwritten letter. We laughed at the fact people never write letters anymore, just emails. I rather enjoy the catharsis in writing letters, something very intimate about pen to paper. Call the letter an emotional investment of time, efforts, love.

Instincts were spot on to call my brother that day, as I listened to him share, I heard his vulnerability and hesitance. His next words rang so true to me, “Yeah, I do not share much regarding sensitive topics like this. If people do not invest in me the same way with their feelings [their vulnerability] I feel I cannot invest equally in them as well.”

Equality. Vulnerability. Investment.

My brother said these same words to me some years ago, I felt he was being selfish, somewhat and seemingly self-righteous, almost cold. Until I removed myself from the emotional connection, to understand the mechanics of relationships, familial and casual, to perceive any equality, vulnerability, any investment. Or in some cases the lack thereof. My brother taught and showed me, with relationships, some things are not created equal. I was blinded by my pursuit to see the good in everyone because I created an enormous space for love.

Feel love, be love. Humans are not meant to be alone in any fashion. People want to connect. Be connected. Emotionally, intellectually, and in some cases spiritually. What happens when they come together but they do not sync, when one person finds themselves investing in the relationship while the other is a leech, or vampire, exsanguinating the vulnerability and bared soul of the giver?

Do we continue to give without the paralleled investment from the other?

Emotional investmentsWhat I have found in the most recent years, after my brother shared this nugget of wisdom, is how I struggle in relationships knowing the feeling of connection is not mutual. I struggle to relinquish, admit defeat. Personally I fail to provide an open space for people who have the inability to connect. Albeit selfish on the surface, but such a wonderful protection from those who truly do not want, nor are willing to provide, an equal, vulnerable and meaningful relationship. Why not be walled off, why be open when we will be woefully disappointed by those who only desire us based on their need to feel fulfilled for self-serving purposes.

Could be familial and or casual (family or friends) but relationships with people all the same. Working in finance and lending all of these years afforded me the opportunity to recognize whether or not you will receive a return on your investment. Using my analytical brain, devoid of emotional attachment, I began evaluating relationships to determine if they were worth the rate of return. Were these relationships worth any value or were they dead weight dragging me (and sometimes my family) down emotionally, mentally and spiritually? Never bearing fruit, just existing.

emotional investments, loyaltyThe results were stark, a vast desert of an emotional wasteland. Spectating on the outside of our interactions, I evaluated  all planes of conversations. Were these people truly interested and investing in me, and my family for that matter, or were they more about their own personal gain? Did they see and feel a personal gain from others willingness to give selflessly and joyfully, robbing of these gifts and never sharing in return? The Chad and I talked at great length regarding this dilemma, my eagerness to continue the connection with people because I love people, yet my driving apprehension when I find their connection is empty, fruitless, selfish and undeserving of my kindness and loyalty.

In getting older while we enjoy relationships like those of a child, free of judgment, analysis, and fear, we also appreciate mutual respect, trust and quality in our relationships. My overall evaluation found that certain friends were more family and certain family were more acquaintances. So energy was spent accordingly with those who garnered trust, respect, and the mutual exclusivity of equality, vulnerability and relationship investment.

How does this translate with how I raise my kids?

Children are such a beautiful example of an abundance of love and acceptance, truth, vulnerability and equality. I pray my children hold on to these qualities. I am also teaching them the glory of indifference, that the people and relationships that do not bring them joy, that do not care for who they are as people, those who do not accept them for who they are, shall receive love but will not receive the emotional investment. I want to protect my children from family and friends that do not wish to invest the way my children would, with an open space of love and vulnerability, only to be hurt from disappointment and the void of detachment. They know to treat all people with love and respect yet gain a level of wisdom that not all people will treat them or others in the same fashion. They will not give so willingly.

Maybe I am wrong in my thoughts, but I have found that when I remove the emotional experience, people and their motives become clear. No matter how much we love them, no matter how much we invest in them with our love, our vulnerability, our goodness, our gifts, people cannot change unless they want to change. I’ve merely changed the way I interact with them, my children see my emulation of love, but my lack of emotional investment. So much power with indifference.

I feel, for now, this is healthy for myself, my family, my children. They understand the value of family, friends, relationships. May they find those family, friends and relationships that will stand the test of time, that their water is thicker than or as thick as blood, and they find people who are willing to emotionally invest as deep, as true, as honest and as vulnerable. Do you have relationships that feel like mental, emotional or spiritual vampires? Do you have people who thrive off “what can you do for me” attitude and never truly have any intimate or genuine concern or care for who you are as a person? How do you deal with people who are not worth the emotional investment?

Karie Herring

Karie Herring