The Acrobatics of Being Exceptionally Decent

You can spend your entire life aiming to be a good person. Like it is a profession or career. You can practice political correctness and fly back and forth on a trapeze to view all sides of an issue to better understand it. You can look people in the face and tell them the truth rather than throw a knife at their back. You can stand on your head and recite the Lord’s Prayer if it means someone doesn’t go hungry or lose their job, and you can juggle your life as well as theirs. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter for some. You aren’t swinging far enough. You aren’t praying loud enough. You aren’t juggling fast enough. Your words and your advice will never be enough.

The conundrum, then, is how you look once you put your foot down and have said you are done trying to be nice. No matter how much you have done it is always negated by the fact that you stopped doing it. I call bullshit. Being taken advantage of in your niceness should not mean that you should continue doing it. And I think it is unfair that someone who is super nice should have to live with a guilty conscious for saying that they have had enough.

This is my reality all the time.

I give of myself, especially now at a time when I have run out of so much of myself to give. And when I feel myself finally putting my foot down, I am bombarded with guilt and the feeling of being punished. And all I did was reach a point where there was no more balance of giving and receiving. Being taken for granted is a weakness of mine. I am cursed with the inability to recover from saying I have had enough.

I continue, however, doing and being and feeling good for the sake of others. I would never want my daughter to see that as a problem. When someone comes to her for help, I want her to say “What would my mother do?”  And I want her to act accordingly. I also want her to learn when to be done. When to say that she needs to be treated right. When to stop being nice for the sake of others so that she doesn’t lose herself. It is a tightrope act. It is more important than the trapeze and the handstands and the juggling. It is the lesson in balancing her worth and the worth of other human beings so that she never loses sight of herself in the cloud of others’ problems.

Everyone deserves a fighting chance. Everyone deserves assistance in life’s woes. Everyone deserves cheerleaders for life’s victories.

No one deserves to be stepped on by someone so that they advance ahead of you. We are all in this together.

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