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Emotional labor and being nonbinary

Discussion in 'Gender Identity and Expression' started by Delta, Dec 10, 2016.

  1. Delta

    Full Member

    Jul 3, 2012
    Likes Received:
    Northwestern USA
    Since pretty much forever, there's been a really huge gap between men and women over how much emotional labor (the hard work of caring; such as remembering birthdays, sending holiday cards, buying presents for relatives, managing your kids' schedules, placating upset colleagues, etc.) is expected of them. Men can get away with doing almost none. Women have a huge burden to take on all emotional labor with a smile out of the goodness of their hearts. It isn't fair, and it isn't the norm for everyone, but it's somehow "socially acceptable."

    As a nonbinary person, and someone with a lot of baggage around emotional labor, neither of these options are working for me. I want to be a genuinely kind and helpful person. I want to make people in my life feel heard, appreciated, and respected. I want to do things other people can appreciate. I can't do no emotional labor at all, that would make me a total jerk. The socially accepted male role is an absolute cannot/will not do. To go too far towards that end of the spectrum to that would be to remove a very important part of who I am.

    But I'm AFAB and my entire life, I've felt like I was trapped into having to do the socially accepted female role, taking on any emotional labor task that was asked or expected of me out of the goodness of my heart. I was everyone's therapist (especially my severely emotionally unhealthy parents). I was everyone's emotional unloading zone (even when I was a small child under 5, my parents unloaded big difficult feelings onto me, like those about my grandmother's death and that they were considering divorce and physically and emotionally abusing each other). Close friends and family and acquaintances, and strangers alike consistently open up to me and vent all kinds of shit to me. I've done a lot of emotional labor that was not my responsibility, that I was not equipped for, that I ended up suffering a lot from, and most of those things helped no one significantly either. And that makes it really hard for me to even figure out where it is boundaries need to be set.

    Up to a point, I like people opening up to me. I like being trustworthy in other people's eyes, and I like to feel like I make a difference to them and make them happier or healthier. I like to be there for people and make them feel appreciated. But I just can't stand having literally all of this expected of me. I feel trapped, and like because I was born female I'll always have to give 100% of whatever I have left to emotional labor. I don't want the standard female role or something close to it, it isn't right for me, but I don't want to be close to the standard male role either, and I don't yet know what is right for me.

    What is the point at which I'm not being a jerk and I'm being sensitive to the needs of those around me, but I'm also not taking responsibilities that aren't mine and things that hurt me far more than they help others? I also want to be conscious of the fact that my partner, who is also AFAB, will pick up emotional labor tasks I won't do that she feels need done, and I don't want to overload her. I just really really need help and advice with finding a balance here. :help: