Because of my personality, being loyal was a trait that overrode protecting myself. I did a lot of stuff that while during it, was a terrible chore. I did my duty because I thought it was my responsibility. I gave myself completely to friendships when all of the effort was for naught. Afterwards, I frequently felt betrayed by others. They didn’t do any share of the relationship or a joint project.
This first happened to me at single digits of age and continued through my work career.
I recall the feeling of being betrayed by others and realized they were self-centered. I didn’t understand this concept and had to learn about it the hard way. I had extended myself only to have my minimal expectations (some sense of returned loyalty) ignored or rebuffed.
Being a pattern person, I recognized what was going on and finally started withdrawing my full commitment. This bothered me as I hate giving less than 100% to a friendship or a task, and it gave me no satisfaction. In fact I felt I was selling myself short. The outcome was predictable every time.
Finally, after realizing that guarding myself was more important than worrying about what others might think, I started saying no. I didn’t want to anymore. I didn’t want to go through what I knew would be a one sided effort that left me disappointed again and again. I was tired of being hurt or betrayed. Others do it easily without concern for anyone. I had to learn to say no.
This was tough to do at first, but I had to protect myself or life would continue to be tough on me. I was tough on myself more than others.
I found that there is some initial pain on both sides of the relationship, but mostly mine. It has saved me in the long run. I now don’t do a lot of things that I know are just not going to be worth it. I’m much more careful as to what I’m going to commit to, either in tasks or relationships.
I’ve found some peace once I realized that others don’t give a shit usually other than about themselves. They quickly forget about it and me. I don’t get over it near as quickly, feeling that I’ve let someone down, but it passes and I realize that I’ve prioritized myself rather than others because it was necessary. It’s not selfish, rather a means of self-protection for me.
Of course, I thought I “suffered” from Mauerbauertraurigheit, but then it became my friend and I’ve eliminated a lot of grief. I used to give and give until I was overwhelmed to the point that I completely withdrew and couldn’t control doing so. Now, I recognize it in advance and purposely do it when I know it’s not going to be worth it.
I weigh the benefit against the cost and don’t do a “duty” or what I perceive as an expectation. There is a price for my loyalty, it is at least some in return. Otherwise, you don’t see me anymore.