My immediate response to this was to express sympathy at not having emotional labor done for you by your mother, explain why I feel emotional labor is important, and try to do some of it for you in my reply. But according to you, I should stop doing that.
So instead I could say, Go fuck yourself, Jane T.
Was that better?
Oh no.. wait, shit. That whole process was emotional labor.
I’ve come back to edit this because, Jane. I am not actually upset at you. I don’t think you’re actually upset at this article or at the “bs” concept of emotional labor. But doing emotional labor matters to me so much that I keep doing it, because I see the profound importance of doing it and how being met with kindness and compassion transforms people, as it has transformed me.
Today, I found out the hard way what happens in my life if I don’t do emotional labor. I am disregarded, disrespected and threatened, today directly by my housemate with completely unfounded eviction for simply not going the extra mile to care for his feelings when he wanted my attention when I was in a moment of distress having spent too long caring for yet another entitled man in my life.
I don’t think you’re a bad person at all, Jane. I think you likely do emotional labor all the time, and have it done for you, and both love doing it and love when it’s done for you. I’d guess the mother comment triggered something. Most people do not have the privilege of mothers like mine, and this is a tragedy truly — that so many parents suck so much. But to reject emotional labor as important outright is to miss the point.
I wonder what it is you’re feeling that has caused you to dislike emotional labor and all talk of it so strongly. It is the lack of emotional labor that made you leave this comment, not looking through the words of the article to my own pain underneath. If you’re wondering, I write in the hopes that in reading, I might be seen and understood because I do not feel seen in my life very often. I feel time and again that the people around me abuse my ability to be compassionate and caring for their emotions.
I don’t *really* want to get paid for this work. For writing about it, sure that’d be nice, but not emotional labor itself. I believe in a gift economy and that all basic necessities, including emotional labor, should be given freely.
I am crying out for a world where this work is prioritized by more people, so I won’t have to be in such pain in my interpersonal relationships all the time. Maybe, if I’d chosen then to stick with my gut and treat you with kindness, I wouldn’t feel guilty and worried I’d hurt you. I want to treat everyone with kindness, even a stranger like you. I find it hard when I’m so rarely rewarded for it. I’d so much prefer to be rewarded with genuine care for me than with money when I care for others.
If you’d like to talk to me further about your experience, my email is in the article and I’m very happy to listen. Thank you, Jane. For giving me the chance to reflect deeply on why this matters so much. I wish you happiness.