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Thu, Sep. 27th, 2012, 12:44 am
The Art of Giving

I've developed this interestingly different attitude about giving. But first, a story.

Once upon a time, there was a girl with a useless boyfriend. She realized boyfriend was useless because money kept disappearing out of her wallet, so she attempted to kick boyfriend out. However, because she lived in a crappy Commonwealth, she had to give him thirty days notice even though he wasn't on the lease, wasn't paying rent, and wasn't technically supposed to be there. In thirty days, boyfriend managed to clean out her bank account (he had a new card/pin sent), steal her car and trash it, steal everything she owned, and basically made it so she couldn't pay her rent and got evicted.

For awhile this girl rented a couch from a friend, and then for another while she stored her stuff at said friend's place while she couch-surfed from place to place. Once or twice she slept on a park bench in the open air. And then she finally managed to rent a room, and slowly began crawling up the food chain once again.

Then one day, she found she had enough for her to be generally content. Well, her new boyfriend, who wasn't useless, had enough and they lived together and shared everything and life was good. She was still working, but she quit to go back to school so she could earn more money with her education.

And then she got sick. She never got better.

She hated being dependent on anyone. It caused much stress in the relationship, but there was nothing she could do about it if she couldn't work. And she hated not working. She felt like a leech, like she had no purpose in society. Maybe, she thought, she should just end it all.

After many long years, the girl began to accept her illness. She took up volunteering so she didn't feel so useless. She felt like she was gaining more than the people she was helping. She remembered what it was like to have nothing and need help. She also remembered how hard it was to accept help. Sometimes it made her feel like a failure. Sometimes it was just hard to trust people. Some people, it seemed, didn't really want to assist her freely; they wanted something in return and she didn't want to feel beholden. And some of the favors people wanted in return were not ones the girl was willing to dispense.

Suddenly, the girl had money. Not alot of money, but enough to be comfortable. And she couldn't save it, because it would mess up her disability. The only way to save would be to stuff it in a mattress, and who can hang onto cash in hand? Not this girl. She could spend it on frivolous things, sure, and for awhile she did this. But frivolousness only goes so far and this girl was opposed to buying things just to buy them. She'd rather buy things people needed, or help some of her friends.

It's funny how the friends who could probably most use a tiny bit of extra cash, or a specific something that isn't terribly expensive, are also the most reluctant to accept help. What I have I wish to share. It's either that or I spend it uselessly. But when someone does let me spend money on them, to me it isn't a gift from me to them, it's a sharing of something. We share something, and by them being lifted just a little higher, so too am I lifted higher because they are my friend and we are all in this mess together.

And I am honored to be their friend, because to open yourself up and let someone into your life enough that they can help you IS an honor. It's a mark of great trust, and a mark of great closeness. It says, I trust you to help me for friendship's sake, and not because of some ulterior motive. I trust you not to use this as leverage to interfere with my life. I allow you entrance into my world, and trust that you will respect me and my universe.

And every time someone allows me to help them, I feel like I should be thanking them and not the other way around. What could they possibly thank me for, a little money, a little time, a little effort, that could in any way compare to the gift of trust that is given in return?

It baffles me when people do something for someone and then mutter about how 'unappreciative' that person is. Why, pray tell, are you helping them? Is it to feel good about yourself? I feel good about myself already. Do you really need to feel superior? Well, you aren't so get over it. Is it because you feel obligated? Well then it shouldn't matter if they appreciate you or not, and if it is such an obligation as to feel like a job, why then should someone thank you for doing your job? For those people who say they help "because it is what is right", do you honestly need congratulations for doing the right thing?

I don't help to be thanked. I rarely feel obligated to do much of anything; I'm not wired with guilt that way. I help because it is an honor and a privilege to be allowed into the circle of trust that surrounds a good heart, and most people have good hearts if you take the time to look. I help because I would never have a friend suffer needlessly. I ask for no favors and no returns. I have all the gifts I need. My friends have helped me through many a hard time and without them this illness would overwhelm and swallow me. If we can all help each other I think we'll come out of this okay. I don't need the promise of some mystical heaven if only I do good works. All the heaven I need is here, with my friends.

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Fri, Nov. 30th, 2012 05:38 pm (UTC)
(Anonymous): Thank you!

I love this post! It is so encouraging to hear your giving heart speak, and to know that there is nothing BEHIND your giving. I had lost hope that such things are possible... I guess I just don't know the right people... yet :O)

-- SynthGirl

Tue, Dec. 4th, 2012 07:15 am (UTC)
jadxia: Re: Thank you!

There aren't many who feel this way, or at least, I haven't met many. I guess it helps to come from a background of working in a busy clinic pharmacy, where the people you were trying to help were openly and aggressively hostile. They wait for drs, labs, records, xrays, etc. and now you want them to wait an hour for an rx with their screaming kids and they've just HAD IT and tend to have complete nuclear meltdowns. We're talking "I want my prescription, I want it now, and if I don't get it now I will make sure you are fired (and/or come back there and kick your a$$ myself)!!" on a regular basis, all the while the phone is ringing and a pharmacist (or two) is shouting orders and if you make one mistake someone could die.

Volunteering at the needle exchange is so totally laid back in comparison; even the folks rushing you because they are in obvious withdrawal try their best not to take it out on you. It's so sweet it makes your heart just go out to them. You'd think it would be the other way around, that the addicts would be the ones snatching things out of your hands, but it is quite the opposite.