Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Giving and taking

Taking the boat out of the water turned out to be a piece of cake. It was the flat tire on the trailer at the boat landing that put the wrench in the works. I had a hydraulic jack but it didn't lift the trailer high enough to get the tire off. Luckily, a couple was at the landing and offered a hand. They were sleeping in their car because both were down and out.

The fellow had the jack that I needed, and he offered to take me and the tire to a nearby service station to get some air put in. He told me that he and Jenna his girlfriend were sleeping in her SUV until they got back on their feet. They were going to drink beer, watch the water and spend the night. I wondered whether he might be an alcoholic.

He said that he didn't have enough money to buy gas so I have him the ten bucks that I had in my pocket. I wish it could have been more.

I've known that when my sympathies get the best of me, I want to give to people. I don't want to see anyone hurting. Learning to be a healthy giver is somewhat of a challenge for me. That's because I can get caught up in too much giving that is motivated by uncharitable feelings of guilt, shame, obligations, and pity.

In relationships with people, I either gave too much or too little. In either case, I was confused because my life and relationships weren't working.

Emotionally, I gave a lot for a long period of time and decided that giving too much resulted in resentment. I had to learn through the program that I needed balance. I wanted to make sure that my caring for another was motivated by a true desire to give, with an underlying attitude of respect for others and for myself.

I had to ask myself:
Am I giving because I want to or because I feel responsible to?
Am I feeling an obligation, guilt, shame or superior?
Am I afraid to say no?
Am I just wanting people to like me?
If I assist others, am I really enabling and thereby preventing others from facing their true responsibilities?
Am I giving because I want to and it feels right to me?

I have learned in recovery to choose what I want to give, to whom, when, and how much. And I'm not talking about material things here but emotional giving as well. I don't always get it "right" yet I know that recovery includes both giving and receiving. I have to inventory my actions to decide if I'm giving in healthy ways. It takes time to learn to receive and have gratitude. I know that balance will come as I continue to work the program.


  1. I fully appeciate where you're coming from on this.

  2. I hear you Syd. I probably never give enough. I have "fallen" for some hard luck stories. I gave and I knew somewhere in the recesses of my mind they were "taking me." But I gave because I knew what it was like to be down . . .

    I am now fortunate. But I don't go out of my way to give.

    I need to work on this

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  4. That is a tough balance. I was downtown in a nearby city for jury duty. There was a man sitting on the sidewalk against the building. It really upset me inside and I was being my usual overrelating self probably. But my sons have been in such financially poor circumstances, including homelessness that it really bothered me. I gave him a bag of pretzels that I had for lunch. My older son, who was living in a group home told me never to give money to anyone on the street. Guys in the area and some of them living in the group home were doing this daily and bringing in some "good" money at night. Their good is much lower than our good but anyway... Sure enough the guy showed his true colors. He threw the bag back at me and said that he didn't need my garbage. I was so hurt. He was most likely an alcoholic or drug addict and wanted money, not food. But we have to use our judgement and in your situation it sounds like they came across you innocently and were not purposely looking for hand outs.

    Did they spend the money on booze? Maybe. But that is their problem not yours. You were trying to be a good person and may have possibly helped them out in their time of need.

    Good for you.

  5. thanks for those questions. 'cause i so easily give too much or too little...

  6. Really good questions. I need to print them out and carry them with me. And I need to practice receiving. I have a hard time with that.

  7. it took time to learn discernment--I sure made some mistakes in the process. It is a process.


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