May 16, 2012

What We Take And Our False Duties

It's curious how in certain cases and circumstances even the most rational, focused and self-aware mind is capable to forget the most basic things and finds themselves tied to imaginary duties, of which others take advantage. It's not like we like this situation, but somehow we are not entitled to get away from it. We may have been looking desperately for a promotion at our jobs, or to enter a new area, fill in a new position, change jobs or even get one, and if it happens that we get our wish, but then something there is unpleasant - say we end up with a bad boss or bad coworkers, or a bad paycheck or poor work conditions - we swallow it up, breath in and shoulder it. So it happens with relationships. Perhaps you've wanted to be in a relationship for very long, or you have longed so much to be with a certain person, or you wanted desperately to get married, and you finally do, that person finally decides to enter a relationship with you, or you find someone, but things are not as you hoped them to be. The one next to you is a nightmare, neglects you, disrespects you, or clings to you to the point of choking you, gets overly jealous about everything, picks up a fight for any reason... or marriage turns out to turn your better half in your worse one, turning a wonderful commitment for life into a life sentence. And again, since we were the ones looking for it, wanting it desperately, we thing we have lost our right to say "I'm stepping out of this".

It happens as well when you want to help someone. Just because you offered to help someone, or hear them out, that doesn't mean that they are entitled to mistreat you, abuse of you, and you have to deal with it and suck it up "because you offered in the first place". This is one of the worse cases, because unlike in a relationship or a job - where you are clearly looking for your own benefit - when you are helping someone, you are doing it for someone else. If we get a job that looked really awesome, but turns out to be a sweatshop or a workplace dominated by big egoes and little reasons, eventually we muster the guts to say "yes, I was looking for this job, I would have killed for it, but now you know what? I don't want it with this conditions", and so with relationship. If the one you are with turns out to be a real pain in the ass, you can always say "I'm not taking anymore of your shit, I want you out of my life from now on". Yes, these are called "resigning" and "breaking up". But when you offer your help to a friend in need, an family member, a member of your community, your significant other... you name it, somehow it's taken like you have offered yourself for slave in an unlimited fashion. If you offer your help, then that means that you subject yourself to them, and it becomes your obligation to take whatever they want to throw at you. You have no right to act or suggest outside their wishes, but must bear every single consequence of their decision making, and on top of it, take all the insult and injury they deem fit for you. And who says you have to take it?

Yes, if you offer to help in something, you should keep to your word - like if you offer to help your community to clean a local park, then you must go to that park at the appointed time and help clean it up and not leave until it's clean or deemed that the work done is enough. However there are cases when the limits of the responsability of helping you are taking are not all that clear. Say you have a friend who needs help on their daily life and you offer to come once a week to "help them". What does that mean? Well, that's what words have been invented for. You later meet with them and talk over what would you help them with. Say you agree to mow their lawn every Tuesday, or you'll do their groceries for them, or you'll come over and help them clean the house or something like that.

However not every person needing help is aware of the fact that those offering it are not in the obligation to do so, that they are entitled to stop helping at any time and without having to justify it why. Helping is voluntary. Then often, one of the arguments used to attack helpers, or coax them further into abuse is "you said you would help". You may have offered your friend or relative to help them take care of their children when they need to study, but that doesn't mean that they can drop their children at your job and expect you to take care of them because they "have a test", or hire a babysitter and then ask you to pay for him or her because "that's actually your job", or extend that help you offered with the kids to ask you for money to pay any to all of their expenses.

You may have offered to help with a sick friend or relative, and find yourself being insulted at every step, abused and even demanded to quit your work or change it, or end your relationship, sell your home, move to another town, just to accomodate you to the particular needs and wishes of ther person you are helping, and all the while being forced to "take it" because "they are sick".

Similar to this is the case where we don't even offer our help, but given a previous relationship we have, we are forced to endure the abuse of others. That because they are our friends or relatives, it is "our duty" to help them or we must "accept and endure" wihout any right to express our disregard or our wish that they would take their issues somewhere else. Because they are our family or friends we must take silently their quarreling, instead of asking them to stop doing it near us, or leave us out of their particular problems. Because they are our family or friends we must be their endless source of money and resources, of which we have no right to reclaim back. They are entitled to a portion of our salaries, to the extensive use and abuse of our things and to stay in our homes and live like it were theirs for as long as they please, taking away from us the right to say "enough", or simply "no".

Not for a second we consider saying "thank you, but no thank you" or "could this be changed?". Not for one second we decide to say simply "no", and even if we say no, the reply is often more aggression, more abuse because we are not supposed to complain. It is a very, very difficult place, but we should recover our selves and our own space. We should learn to say "no" to this circumstances, and learn to turn the deaf ears that we are supposed to have towards our selves and our best judgment, to those who want to abuse of our help, those who abuse of relationships that weren't made to endure mistreat. It's hard, but we must reclaim our own self-respect, and sometimes beat down that socially programmed tendency to be obedient and manageable, to stand up for our best interest.

Remember in a job or a relationship - no matter how much you wanted it at first -  you can say "No" or "No thank you" if the actual conditions once you are in it, are not good for you, and also, when you offer your help, or even if someone tries to impose on you, you can also say "no". It's your right, exercise it because if you don't nobody will do it for you.

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