Wednesday, March 21, 2007

When have you had enough?

I got really, REALLY angry today -- something I rarely do. Oh, I get peeved and even testy, but that doesn't stick long, and it isn't something that causes much of a physical reaction.

Really truly angry takes a while to grab hold of me...a slow burn. And I sidestep it at first, and then feel it build and build and build, and then I get shaky and leaky-faced (angry tears), and it lasts for hours, and leaves me just worn out from the intensity.

It was primarily because of a phone bill we got today in the mail -- except it wasn't entirely about the amount of money owed (which was significant), but rather that I felt used, disrespected, blown off, and greatly taken advantage of. And there is not one single thing that can recover any of the money -- and there is nothing -- NOTHING -- to show for it -- NO benefit anywhere to us. Just a big, fat bill.

What is most painful, though, is that the usage privilege that was extended was so carelessly -- and willfully -- abused, with no appreciation shown and no notice taken of a couple of warnings we'd issued over the past couple of months.

It's not the first time this has happened, either -- not the same situation, but with another gift, a privilege given that was blown off and squandered, and then lied about.

Maybe I'm old-fashioned -- I guess I am. I was taught to appreciate what was given to me because I knew that someone had worked hard to receive that money. I was taught that having material things is not a right; it is a privilege, whether you earn the money or someone else has. I'm a pretty frugal consumer -- I've always had enough, but there have been years when I've pinched many pennies and made do with what I had, or found creative ways to recycle things. I shop sale racks and grocery specials. I've fallen out of some of those habits in more recent years, but I'm picking them back up these days.

So it just blows me away when privileges are taken as a right, when monetary gifts intended to help build a solid foundation are spent not on necessities, but on cigarettes or a night out or cute shoes or new purses.

Oh, I could rant and rave more. But you get the idea.

For me, this last is truly the end of my support and willingness to help -- at least until the recipient is capable of making choices that will build a foundation for self-sufficiency and an eye to future growth. And can show respect for the gift as well as the giver, and honor the gift by using it well.

There's a little part of me that says that a gift should be given without strings, without any anticipation of thanks or appreciation, but simply because the giver chooses to give it lovingly.

And in a perfect world, I suppose it is a noble and honorable and admirable intention to give without asking for anything in return. A good Christian thing to do; an honorable Buddhist way of right behavior; a part of giving back from the gifts I've been given by the universe.

But I'm not perfect, and I don't feel very noble or selfless. I just feel drained and tired of giving and giving and giving without any return on investment. And I feel resentful -- not a good way to be.

I think it's time to step back and watch. Lovingly. But not enabling anymore. It clearly hasn't helped any of us. And I've had enough.

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