Killing Resentment with Kindness

Believe it or not, resentment and anger have the power to kill. They kill our ability to lead happy and productive lives. They kill our relationships with others.
It’s been a rough week, the roughest in quite some time. Although I am reaching out and calling people in my support system, trying to connect and fighting the urge to curl up to reruns of LOST on Hulu and eat Cafe Del Sol nachos, no one seems available. Some friends! Why is it that when my shit hits the fan, people are not lining up to get messy?
Of course it makes me feel sorry for myself. I love to wallow in self-pity at times like this. Instead of looking at you-know-who (myself), I point the finger at them. I get angry and resentful that no one is running to rescue me and watch me lick my wounds. Why do I feel these toxic feelings, which make me feel physically sick, create stress and anxiety, and can lead to self-destructive behavior?
Maybe this time I should break tradition and send kindness, appreciation and love to my busy friends. By allowing anger and resentment to run (or ruin) my life, I squander many hours that could be spent on more noble thoughts and activities. Even in cases where someone purposely harmed me, anger and resentment  come right back at me like a boomerang. Sending kindness to those who challenge me in small to great ways sets me free from the venomous effects of unhealthy negative emotions.
I need to get over myself. I can still watch LOST, but I think I’ll lose the nacho chips—and the one on my shoulder—and have a few blueberries instead. I’ll be fine.  As Stuart Smalley from SNL used to say, “I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And, gosh darn it, people like me!”
Advertisements

Kindness or Codependence?

Kindness or Codependence?

One of my favorite childhood books was The Giving Tree. I wanted one so badly—an actual giving tree, I mean. Now, I was the only child in a family that was materially abundant, but emotionally bankrupt, so it’s no wonder I fell in love with this story.

As a quasi-adult in recovery from life in general, I sometimes hear people refer to the fabled Giving Tree as the Codependent Tree. This never fails to light a fire in my heart on the subject of kindness and giving versus codependent and unhealthy behavior. In the story, the boy and the tree have a very special relationship. The boy goes to the tree when he needs help, and the tree gives what it can to meet the boy’s needs. As the boy grows up, the tree grows old. In the end, the tree has become a stump, which is just what the boy, now an old man, needs to rest. The tree has given the boy everything it had to help him. It’s a beautiful thing.

In my life, people have often held back from acting kindly and giving themselves to others as a way of avoiding being codependent. Don’t misunderstand me. True codependence, of which I am admittedly inflicted with myself on occasion, can be a truly destructive and unhealthy behavior.  Many times I have heard people say they choose not to help someone in need because they “have to take care of themselves.”  Other times I have experienced friends turn away from people in the name of teaching them to be more self-reliant. I think it’s the humanness and neediness that repels them because it triggers internal feelings of need and discomfort.

So where is the line? When does kindness become codependence? When are we holding back from opening our hearts to another because their pain scared us? When are we protecting ourselves and others from unhealthy and dysfunctional dependencies?

Until I find the answer for myself, I will keep my heart open to giving and receiving kindness to the best of my ability. When I start cutting my arms off for people, I will re-evaluate.