His Record Player
Taking false gratitude for a spin.
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Gratitude, like everything else, has a spectrum. Being grateful for what we have, all the ways we’re fortunate, the people and love we have in our lives—yes, absolutely. That’s the healthy end of gratitude, the one that’s genuine. The unhealthy end is the one where we’re grateful for things we don’t want, because our self worth is so low we think things we don’t want are the best we can hope for. Staying small, not wanting too much, keeping our dreams and desires minimal because we don’t want to seem “greedy.” That’s not gratitude. That’s a learned behavior—that’s training. People who benefited from us needing as little as possible rewarded us for how small we could make ourselves, until we barely existed at all. We don’t have to be grateful for that.
What we learn as kids, we live as adults. So when a former boyfriend of mine said, with great excitement I’ll add, that he had a gift for me, the very first of our relationship, the little kid inside of me bubbled over with joy, because she thought maybe finally someone was giving her something just for her, something she really wanted, rather than something someone else found convenient to give. He even had me wait in my bedroom and close my eyes while he brought it into the house. The gift was a record player. But it was his record player. He brought it over from his mom’s house. He was moving in with me. This wasn’t a gift, this was just him unpacking his shit.