Archive for the ‘compliments’ Tag

Ogre or troll?

This post is hard for me to publish. I’m afraid it will come off as very self-serving and mawkish. I cringe at the blush-worthy sneers it could easily attract. But it’s about a nagging irritation that I feel might be helped by putting my thoughts out in the universe. So, take this one as it’s meant: an airing of aggrieved confusion and irritation with only myself, and no cause for offense to anyone else. 
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My beloved is generous with her praise and compliments. She puts effort into finding ways to tell me that she thinks my fashion choices on any given day are good and attractive, that she thinks I look nice, and that she’s pleased with my appearance. She is kind that way, solicitous of my feelings. I am a very lucky butch in this regard. And I make an effort to be grateful and also to reciprocate her kindness. 
The last bit is easy. I always think she looks good, even straight from sleep or when she’s under the weather. She is my pretty girl and seeing her always pleases me. So telling her that she is beautiful and helping her to know that I see her, her uniqueness, her innate loveliness, is not the hard part. 
The hard part is graciously accepting a compliment without feeling false in either my reaction to the compliment or in my treatment of the one giving it. Doesn’t matter who it is, I always struggle with this. But the struggle is especially troubling when it’s my Lulu. Her kind heart and genuine pleasure at seeing me and complimenting my appearance is something I never want to trample, dismiss or trivialize. 
Yet…I can’t help the visceral, instinctive and strong reaction that occurs every single time. Inner critic voices immediately shout in my head:  “That’s not meant for you.” “You don’t deserve that.” “They can’t possibly be talking about you that way.” “Don’t be ridiculous, that description doesn’t apply to you.” And, most disturbing: “That’s what they think you want to hear.” and “What do they want from you to try flattery of that sort?”
These doubts, outright denials, and motive-questioning reactions are reflexive, almost autonomic in their immediacy following any kind of praise on my person. I shrug, grimace, sometimes cringe and shudder inwardly, when my beloved calls me gorgeous or handsome or beautiful-handsome. I gesture away the comments about my attire with a flick of my hand. And the qualifying comments, down-playing and deprecating responses are just as quick to my lips as the shrugs and grimaces.  

I’m sure it’s frustrating for her. Maybe infuriating and sad, too. Those emotions are not what I ever mean to inspire in her. But they are the predictable byproducts of the ingrained response I have to praise and compliments. 

So, what’s the problem? 

It feels so wrong to simply say thank you. It’s as if by acknowledging the other person’s remark and thanking their kindness, I am claiming that superlative for myself, boasting by proxy. It feels unseemly and big-headed. 

Yet I never think these things of others who graciously accept compliments I’ve given them. It never occurs to me that anyone I compliment is anything but deserving of the praise and validation. Their acceptance of, and pleasure in, the comment is gratifying to me, with nary a qualm about their motives. 

So why do I hold myself to a different standard? Why do I struggle with accepting the thought that what is said is what they genuinely believe? How is it okay for others, but not okay for me?

Fundamentally, I genuinely think others deserve to be complimented and I don’t. I can’t identify why this makes so much sense to me. It seems so right and rational inside my head and heart, but sounds so stupid and insane when written down or said out loud. Why should I be utterly undeserving? Am I such a loathsome ogre to be devoid of aesthetic appeal? Clearly not; no person is. 

I think the nasty secret behind it all is, predictably, fear. Specifically, fear that my internal critic’s worst poison will manifest itself in the voice of someone I care for and respect, sneering in surprise and derision in response to overhearing me being complimented, sealing the deal on my self doubt: “This confirms it! You were right all along, you are a loathsome troll!!” (For some reason that internal saboteur’s voice is that of Alan Rickman as Severus Snape at his most venomous.) 
Never mind that no one I love and respect today has ever displayed anything like that sort of hatefulness toward me or anyone I love. Never mind that the whole scenario is ludicrous. Logic and sanity don’t play a part in irrational insecurity. 
It’s just fear of not being good enough. 
Time to get over it. Hopefully saying it out loud will rob the gremlin of its power and free me to just be grateful next time. 
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