Sunday, February 23, 2020

How Acts of Service and Affirmation Became Tied

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Hewwo ... I mean hello everybody! The Unleashed One here. Today I am continuing my overview regarding the shift in some of the scores from The 5 Love Languages Profile. In case you need to catch up, here are the links to the previous entries.

When I first took this test back in 2018, I scored a 10 on Acts of Service and an 8 on Words of Affirmation. The high score on Acts of Service did not surprise me because I do show my love for someone based on what I'm willing to do for them.

When I took the test again earlier this year, my Acts of Service number and my Words of Affirmation number were tied at 9. 
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What could have caused that drop in Service? What attributed to the tiny climb with Words of Affirmation?

Yes, folks. It's time to delve deeper.

The past seventeen years, especially the last eleven, have taught me a lot. It is around this time frame where some elements began shifting. This will be one of the first times I've been transparent about this stretch of time, simply because I wasn't ready to disclose all the details.

I will rewind to 2009. I had been out of my relationship with M for a little over a year. My existence was composed of working and going home. Eating, when I could. Sleeping, when I could. A little bit of TV here and there. That really sums things up. You see, M and I had worked at the same place. Eventually, M was let go. Not only did I remain at that workplace; I ended up being promoted to M's old position. 

Before the fallout, I was going to switch gears and try my hand at substitute teaching. Sure, it would be a lot less money but where I was currently was quite stressful. I needed a switch from the fast pace, the yelling customers, and the long hours. Unfortunately, each time I had an interview to work at a school district, M conveniently had a crisis. Now, this isn't to throw salt at anyone who is suffering from a mental disorder. But in M's case, in instances, it spoke to emotional manipulation when I did something that would disrupt M's best-laid plans.

Needless to say, the substitute teaching goal was substituted by practicality. The fluidity of income from pay and bonuses based on the performance of the store and how well food and labor were handled. The rising cost of food was a challenge but being able to stall the turnover associated with the industry ... an even greater one. Usually, I found myself doing double shifts: on the inside during the day, on the road at night, or vice versa.

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The last thing on my mind was love. I was thankful when I had a day to lie in my own bed instead of the inflatable mattress at the back of the store. 

Side Note: At one point, I did buy an inflatable mattress. It was for those days where I would work a double shift, then have to be back at work in the morning. A double shift for me would be from 10 in the morning until 1 in the morning on the weekends, and 10 in the morning from 2 in the morning on the weekends. Plus, I had a 20-minute commute. On some nights, I was so exhausted, I didn't trust myself to make that drive, and I'd rather be safe than sorry.

One night, as I was wrapping up my shift, I got a call from Mr. SF. Mr. SF was a friend I made when I first moved to NJ. He would occasionally sell me soaps and lotions. As we chatted, he was telling me about his business partner. This was new to me because I could recall whether he had mentioned him. He told me that they would be going by Wawa on their lunch break if I wanted to meet up. They worked the overnight shift at Six Flags (known in NJ as Great Adventure). Since it was one of those rare times where (1) I didn't have to work tomorrow and (2) I wasn't dead tired, this would be a break from the humdrum.

I made the drive out there. Mr. SF gave me a hug. Next to him was this tall lanky guy. Since his skin was pale, I originally thought he was white. During the time I lived in MS, I wasn't exposed to anything different outside of black and white. 

SF introduced him as Mike. When Mike spoke, it threw me for a loop. There was an accent but not any accent I ever heard before. He was friendly enough but looked rather young to be in business with SF. When I  joked about it, SF said that the ladies loved Mike and that he could charm them to buy anything, which was why he'd decided to expand to selling purses.

I left the meetup, thinking that meeting Mike was a positive thing. I could not have predicted what would jump off in the next few months.

When SF would call me, Mike would want to talk to me. Usually, Mike and I would talk a few minutes then he'd give SF back the phone. Then, it extended to minutes. Then, hours. Then, moments when I found out that Mike would just stay on the phone with me until it was time for me to go, but instead of giving the phone back to SF to chat with me, he'd hang up. This made SF upset, albeit for a different reason than I expected. Turned out SF was into me ... and now, so was Mike.

When SF finally made his intentions known, I let him know I wasn't interested. For me, smoking was a dealbreaker, and I just wasn't into him in that way. Mike was cool to talk to, even more so than SF with certain issues, but I didn't think of him like that either. He also smoked, and he was in a long-distance relationship. 

Or so everyone believed.

What was Mike willing to do that I should choose him? Quite a lot. He ended his relationship. He stopped smoking. His family was thrilled but wondered what was the cause. He took it upon himself to get my number out of SF's phone, and once he got his own phone, he called me non-stop. Mike even decided to work at the store. Yes, the one I worked in. 

I already memorized the reasons why it wouldn't pan out. The age gap: he was ten years younger. Very different backgrounds. Each time I would tell him, he wasn't hearing it. His persistence never wavered, and it got to the point where he was getting other people to champion for him.

Since his love presented itself as Acts of Service ... what he was willing to do for me ... I eventually shifted my way of thinking. Once I made the decision to give him a try, he was over the moon thrilled and continued to mold himself as the type of person I could see forever with.

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However, the difference between someone who's authentic and someone who's putting on a farce is that true authenticity is effortless. Throughout the years, it became evident that it took more effort for Mike to do the acts which made me fall for him ... to the point where I wondered if it was the real him.

What I was willing to do for him boiled over to the point where it was toxic. I had fallen into the pattern of holding him up as I was letting myself go. My health started failing, but Mike had stopped caring because the extent to which I could serve was declining. It was like pouring into a bottomless well. My old school thinking temporarily had me bound. I didn't want to be married only to get divorced. I was taught that marriage was the type of bond you fight for.

It only applies if both are invested. It doesn't work if the other person has not only emotionally checked out but physically checked out as well. My Acts of Service burned me. I felt like my style was wasted because I'd chosen the wrong person. Really, it didn't matter if my primary love language was a different one, they would be ineffective because he had given up.

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Getting divorced was one of the hardest decisions I ever made. However, if I hadn't done it, I may still be in what had become a loveless, passionless marriage. It was at the point where he'd rather be on a video game than to even touch me. Toward the end, the few times he did, was very sloppy, rushed ... nothing like the "focused on my pleasure" lover he touted himself to be.

This taught me that you have to be selective in your service, even if it is a romantic relationship. When things were going wrong, I believed I had to do more, say more, put myself out more. If the other person isn't matching the effort, then there's a stalemate. It left me with some residual feelings, some that put a lot of the blame on me. Kind of like, "What was I thinking?"

I don't believe Acts of Service will ever stop being my top love language. Yet, during all of my trauma, I needed much more. Words of Affirmation from those knowing what I was going through with the relationship meant so much to me ... to the point where I recognize this language is just as pivotal to me as being of service from a heartfelt place.

Behind closed doors, I shed many tears over this love loss. Yet, without this loss, I would not have gained back my most important love ... that for myself. 

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