Speaking even a simple truth is so hard…


Dear Therese,

A friend and I have been doing things together twice a week for almost ten years.  We enjoy our time together, and have many things in common, but that’s not the problem.  My problem is that I always drive, because she doesn’t, and she has never once offered to pay me for gas.  Until recently that wasn’t an issue, because the places we like to go are in her area, but I am on a fixed income and would sure like to keep costs down for me, and there are things much closer to me that I could go to, instead of by her.  How do I tell her?

W.H. in Wisconsin

Dear W.H.,

The simple answer, W.H., is tell her exactly what you just told me!  You’ve given no indication that she is abusive or unreasonable, which probably means that she has likely fallen into the habit of letting you pay.  Is it possible that when this arrangement began you consistently told her it was your pleasure, or no problem, or you liked doing this?  Sweetie, if you don’t speak up, you will never know if there really is a problem!  It could be that she is very willing to pay, just doesn’t know circumstances have changed for you.

Your predicament is a microcosm of a much larger social problem, of course.  We are encouraged to give, but not told why.  The “why” is because this life isn’t about us, it is about how our lives touch and improve the lives others. (Put very simply , of courseWhat we aren’t really told these days, is that all benefits must be mutual.  The mutual ultimately boils down to the joy of giving, but being the human beings that we are, it often takes something a little more concrete to demonstrate mutuality.  For sure it means that one person can not take advantage of another.  When generosity is abused the energy of the relationship changes, and we feel it.

Then comes the next predicament.  We are also told that we have to be nice.  We are encouraged to avoid conflict.  We are fearful that other people won’t like us.  None of these things are necessarily wrong, until they stop us from being true to ourselves.  When we stop being true to ourselves, W.H., we also stop giving from our joy, and our giving becomes tainted.

When our giving no longer comes from our joy, as is demonstrated in your case, it effects relationships.  Your friend, W.H., has no way of knowing that something has changed unless you tell her.  Chances are she suspects, by your behavior, or some subtle changes in you, but she can not really know until you tell her your truth.  I suggest you tell her very gently, but directly, that your circumstances have changed.  Don’t just stop doing things with her and go to places closer without giving her a chance to give back to you.  Who knows, she may have been hiding information from you about her finances or other things, and may wish to talk to you, too.  This one thing may actually open up a whole new avenue of communication between the two of you.

We just never know where standing in our own truth, even in seemingly simple things, will take us!


(Therese Wilson is a published poet, and is the administrator of the global website at www.cwghelpingoutreach.com  She may be contacted at:                                                              Therese@TheGlobalConversation.com.)

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