I have a serious problem putting limitations on myself when it comes to people asking for money, or my time. I have since I was a child given things away if someone said they needed it. When I was a child though, I still would have connections too deep to certain items, like my Strawberry Shortcake figures. No one was getting those they were too close of friends to me. I had one of the normal dolls with the hair you could brush, but my favorites were the small little figures. They felt rubbery and smooth, they smelled good, they were small, and I kept them in a nice storage case. The case had little notches on the shelves, and the figures had a little hole on the bottom so they fit perfectly and would not move around. I liked to keep them neatly stored in their case — I did talk to them and look at them.
It was enjoyable to me to look at their order.
I must be thinking of that because of the treat from the other night. I had a mix of toys some I had no problems getting rid of others I could not part with or else I would surely die of a broken heart. My stuffed animal turtle I received when I broke my arm was one that I kept well into my early twenties. I left my Strawberry Shortcake figures at my mom’s when I moved to another state at around age 24 or 25, they were ruined in a water pipe flood in the storage room. Those and several other of my childhood collections, and various items were ruined. My mom felt horrible for me. I lost my E.T. collection as well.
I am still sad.
I speak of “toys”, but my definition of toys include my collection of rocks, sticks, and bones of dead frogs that I found around our home. I kept the bones outside by the shed in case anyone was wondering. I also had Barbies, books, and my portable record player. My mom would let me get some pretty awesome “toys” that I would never let my kids play with, like the portable vintage hair dryer that came in a case, and a portable nail buffer. The nail buffer was very dangerous and I used it to sand wood…and rub off sticker, and buff rocks. I tried it on my nails one time but it burned my fingers. I was fairly careful about what objects I used it on. I used the hair dryer as a weather source for my stories — my stuffed animals would go through some rough tornadoes. I also used it to put on my head because I was always cold so it would warm me up.
My mom loves vintage items and used to collect them when it was not the “in” thing to do.
She also refurbished everything we had. She went to school for interior design, but was unable to finish being a single mom in the 70′s she had to work. We would drive around to small cities close to us to antique shops and garage sales on her days off. We got our furniture, decor, books, clothes, (She made our clothes too, she would reinvent used clothing items.) and my cool toys from these places. I used to get things like travel alarm clocks, (My favorite came in a brown square case, with fake gold trim and the numbers glowed green in the dark.) old pictures, whatever was odd, or interesting to me basically I loved. I went completely off topic into nostalgia. My point? Those types of items I would never part with, I can tell you now no one was getting my frog bones, or my awesome travel alarm clock. Back to the giving. I have given tons of things away because people needed it or because I was sweeping out my life. If I felt like I was starting over anything that I was attached to I would force myself to throw out because I didn’t want to remember any memories ever again. It would hurt too much.
Those are for things that I care about.
I do not care about money, it stresses me out. I hate thinking about it, dealing with it — I don’t want to ever have cash on me. I have one card, a debit card and that is it. I carry it and only it. I lost all boundaries when I went to church. I took the giving thing very literal. I would give the shirt off my back and sometimes I did. (If I was wearing two or had an extra one with me…I like to be prepared.) I would give people I did not know a ride that were standing on the corner in the cold. I would give money to people in the parking lot of stores telling me they needed it.
Church was a huge source of my irresponsible giving.
I will not go into detail, but people in need would melt my heart. I thought that if people went to church, then they were honest. I was not brought up in church so my church experience was very eye-opening. I thought that anyone who said they believed in God was honest. I was able to help a lot of people in need, and there were some caring people who helped us as well there is just a lot to what I have to decipher. Long story…processing. (I am not church bashing, or faith bashing it is my own experience and it was not all positive.) All the while not thinking of the consequences of not being able to pay my bills or be able to buy food for myself. I figured they must need it more than I did, and I didn’t need to eat. I would be fine. I did this for a very long time — I do not feel bad about it. It is who I am however, I had to set boundaries.
I had one instance when a woman and her young son were in the parking lot of a grocery store trying to sell a small TV.
She said she would sell me her TV for any amount they just needed food. I didn’t have cash on me, but I had a car full of change. I told her I didn’t want the TV and I gave her all the change I had. I left the store, but could not shake it. I knew that I did not have money to spare, but I went to the ATM and got $20 out anyway. I went back to the store to track her down. I saw her at the cash register — she had a bottle of Jack Daniels, and was buying cigarettes. I was devastated as I looked at the boy. At that moment I had flashes of him in the parking lot, he never said a word and he had the same somber face that he had in the check-out line. I didn’t know what to think or how to feel. I was upset for days. I was 30 years old when this happened.
I did not learn my lesson until last week.
Yes, I have continued to give without a thought, after having children I have become a bit more cautious. It wasn’t until last week though that I felt like I was doing the right thing by saying no. In the past if I had to say no to someone I would feel sick, I would cry, I would feel horrible for days because I wanted to help them. I didn’t think that they were deceiving me, and quite frankly I didn’t care. My “help” trump card takes over my reason. I was able to find a balance last week. It was about 7pm and it was dark because of winter, I pulled into the Wal-Mart parking lot and noticed a woman walking in and out through the cars. She practically chased one truck down, and it looked like she knew him. She didn’t he ignored her and walked off. I had a familiar feeling and warning feelings in my gut.
She did not come to me, and I went about my business.
When I came out she snuck up on me while I was putting things in the back of my car. She told me a story about her car being out of gas, and she couldn’t get hold of her daughter. There is a gas station in the parking lot. It did not feel right. I have never done this before, but as she was giving me this story that seemed to be growing by be minute she said something that triggered in me and brought about flashes of my kids. She said: “I need money.” There was no hesitation in my voice and I said: “I don’t have any money on me and I do not have money to give.” I thought about my kids need’s, we do not have money to spare for me to go off on one of my giving rants without thinking of the consequence. My children gave me reason. I stopped her. I looked straight at her and asked “What do you want me to do for you?” She was confused by my words and said: “I guess drive me over to get gas and pay for it” I asked how she was going to bring the gas to her car, she hadn’t thought about it. I told her that I was not going to do that.
I had to get home to the kids.
I also felt like it was dangerous for some reason. It just did not feel right and I felt like I needed to get out of there. I told her that I had some change in the car. I gave her what I could, and told her I hoped that helped. It was all I could do. I watched her go after several other people as I drove away. This is a huge accomplishment for me. I did tear up in the car and was overcome with guilt. I did feel terrible and hoped that I had done enough, but I also knew that I had to listen to my gut instincts. I knew in my core that I did the right thing. In the past I would not have been able to shake the guilt feelings off and I would have looped. I would have prayed and prayed for forgiveness for being selfish or something. I am not a selfish person, and I am not prideful for saying that. I need boundaries and I need to trust my gut because I am naive and gullible at times. It does not make you unspiritual or uncaring by setting boundaries.
And that my friends has been a hard lesson for me to grasp, but I did it without feeling like a horrible person…at least this time.
I found a picture of the Strawberry Shortcake case that I had as a child it’s not my picture though. I had a lot more figures. I also found some pictures of the vintage torture devices…I mean toys that look similar to the hair blower, and nail buffer I was referring to.