Jul 28, 2007

When You Don't Have Anything Left To Give

A good friend of mine has often told me that I give too much of myself to others, especially in friendship. He is constantly warning me to follow the popular maritime axiom "one hand for yourself, one hand for the ship," and apply it to any friendship or relationship that I enter. I have had a very hard time doing that. It many cases, such as with Ben and many of the friendships that I have been fortunate to have over the years, ignoring that advice has been the best course. However, many failed romances (BELIEVE me, many of my friends and family STILL won't let me live some of them down) and friendships later, I think I'm starting to learn.

Having your generosity of spirit and compassion taken advantage of is not fun. In fact it is very painful. I always try to go by the Golden Rule, treating others as I would hope to be treated. If that means having a hug, or a shoulder to cry on, or a waiting ear when things go bad, then so be it. If that means being ready with the confetti when things go well, I'm all for it.

But how much is too much? When does giving all that you have (and then some) turn into not enough? What happens when you aren't willing to give up everything in order to help someone?

In some cases they understand that you can't go any further. You've already undermined what's best for you enough that sometimes you forget that you need to take care of yourself too. Unfortunately, in others they get angry and lash out at you, expecting you to give that last bit that would destroy you.

Tonight I feel like the stump from the Giving Tree. However, unlike that stump, I won't let anyone sit down on top of me. I need to have SOMETHING left. In fact, I'm not even going to give up my trunk. I'm hoping to grow back some branches and leaves so that I can enter into other friendships down the road.

I'm tired of worrying about others so much it makes me sick. I'm tired of sleepless nights, worrying that I haven't given the right advice or enough of my time or helped a friend out enough. I'm tired of doing things that I really don't WANT to do, just because they bring a smile to someone else's face. What about the frown, heartache, and anguish that it brings to me?

I've given as much as I can.

I think now it's time that I worry about me for a little while.

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