June 28, 2011

Boundaries? We don't need no stinkin' boundaries!

It’s Plank Pullin’ time!  The one day a week that we strongly resolve to ignore the multitude of specks and sawdust around us and pull one bona fide plank from our own eye. Matthew 7:3-5, style.

Remember that other Plank Pullin' post I wrote?  It's time for another one.  (Actually, it's past time.) 

I know this will shock you, gentle readers, but I am not perfect.  Nay, in typical dramatic bipolar fashion, I have more than my fair share of flaws.  I'm not talking about cellulite or stubbornly persistent chin hairs (though they do apply).  I'm talking about people skills.  About relationships.  And about my lack of ability to set healthy boundaries.  What I struggle with the most is determining how involved I should get in other people's problems.

I tend to default to getting over involved, whether invited to or not.  I want to help (read: rescue).  I instantly go into Man Mode:  

You know, it occurs to me that people like me get paid to do this stuff.  It's called "life coaching".  No advanced degree required.  Ingenious!  But for those of us for whom codependency is merely a hobby, getting over involved can cause problems.  Sometimes expensive ones.

On a Friday afternoon in April, I got a call from an out-of-state friend.  She was really stressed out about her family's financial situation.  She and her husband have a family business as well as a large family, and business wasn't going well.  They needed help keeping everyone fed, their phones on for work and home, and their utilities paid.  She said they would be "flush with money" by the next week, and that they just needed help getting through the weekend. 

Pathological Superhelper that I am, I loaned her $600.  I told her that the money I was loaning her was for one of our own bills, and that we'd need it back by May 1st.  She agreed.

May 1st came and went.  So did June 1st.  I realized very quickly that I'd been overly trusting and overly generous.  The excuses came at regular intervals with no money, not even partial payments, attached.  I felt increasingly anxious, ashamed, duped.  Finally, when the loan was 6 weeks overdue, my mom (GC Brawler) took it upon herself to contact this (mutual) friend.  She asked her to pay back the loan and expressed her disappointment that it had gone on so long. 

This was not received well.  My mom and I were both unfriended and blocked on Facebook, and the woman's husband (once a friend) attacked me through email.  His tirade was so ridiculous that I must cartoon it, along with my mom's reaction.


Besides just being a good, old-fashioned airing out of the proverbial dirty laundry, I'm telling this story because it illustrates that rescuing others isn't always this laudable, feel-good venture.  People are crappy sometimes.  People lie.  And sometimes, the positive mojo you get from helping someone out of a jam turns into a giant pain in your butt.  This is one of those times for me.

And it is no one's fault but my own.

Now that I've got that off my chest, it's time to work on figuring out how to avoid this rescuing tendency.  Anyone know a good therapist?



  1. I wish I did know a good therapist. One might have saved me from letting a broke, unemployed person live in my living room for a year. Yeah, I'm a fixer too.

  2. Your blog makes me laugh. Sorry you had such crappy friends. I've had those too. It feels good to shed the extra weight (not so much the money) and kick their butts to the curb.

  3. What a bunch of horse shit.

    Want to borrow my nerf bat? Or better yet, send me over and I'll be sure to collect. I'm a soon-to-be-divorcee on the verge.

    By the way, have I told you how awesome you are? I owe you an email my friend. That drawing you did was SO damn funny. In fact, it's scheduled to be my post for tomorrow.

    Remember me when you're famous.

    And I'm serious about that nerf bat.

  4. Hey Danielle,

    I love that you are such a devoted friend--too bad your rescuing efforts have not payed off!

    My husband and I have both made very unfortunate decisions loaning money, one of them with an extended family member. Things are still good between us, only because we just don't ask him about the money any more.

    Maybe we should hire your mom. :)

  5. Been there, done that.

  6. Thank you, ladies. Hiring my mom is a great idea, GGM! My grandpa always said, "Neither a borrower nor a lender be." I should have listened to him.

  7. Oh man. I am not a "rescuer" but I am just glad that no one as ever asked me for money. Because it would be plain awkward and uncomfortable, at best. Eep.

  8. How 'bout next time you think about rescuing someone (unless it's a super adorable fluffy kitteh in peril), post here about it and we'll talk you out of it, m'kay?

    Sidenote: That was really sweet of you to help a friend in need. I'm sorry you got hosed for your efforts.

  9. Ha! Love your writing style & personality!!! I'm a rescuer too. SO related to ya! Great blog, lady! New follower here! Christian mama to 6 boys. Feel free to visit me!

  10. And you dont have to be licensed to be a life coaCH (YET)