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.