This expression, said to me recently by a friend, has stuck in my head for several days now. The context behind this idea was based upon those that just take and take and take from a relationship - any relationship - (work, friends, school, lovers, marriage, etc...) and never give. I was feeling completely overwhelmed at being asked to take on yet another high needs situation and had a pity party on Facebook. Responses ranged from hang in there to you can do it, but the best response I received contained the idea of "lemon-chucking". I believe the entire idea of the "lemon chuckers" went something like this:
I'm sure some (sap) would give you a cheesy quote like "When life hands you lemons..." but that's a bunch of bullshit. Life doesn't hand you lemons, life hands you life and most people are just mindless lemon chuckers.
If you aren't A) Laughing out loud at the idea of people being mindless lemon chuckers OR
B) Jealous because you don't have a savvy friend to say things like this to you when you need a little pick me up I'm not sure you should keep reading because apparently a lemon has never been "chucked" at you. And here lies the relationship of the givers (lemon recipients) and the takers (lemon chuckers). Both find themselves at fault for the conundrum of the relationship, but I'm going to go out on a limb here and say the takers often need to be taken out back and slapped around awhile. I mean, c'mon!
Daily we seem to find ourselves amongst people that just assume you won't mind doing one more thing - people that have no problem chucking lemons. And the truth of this is, often those being pelted by this metaphorical lemon wouldn't mind if there had been even an ounce of preparation on the chuckers behalf, but there never is. Never. Ever. Never. And then, even though there has been very little forethought, the receiver is supposed to be the messiah of whatever the task is. No room for error. None. Zero. Zip.
The givers are living amongst you, the people you know, who no matter what you ask of them, will oblige. It could be as simple as borrowing a dollar to the shirt off their backs; either way, you're going to get it. They give and give and give without hesitation almost to the point of exhaustion. Three a.m. pick-up from a party, they are there. Five a.m. ride to the office, give them a call. Extra project at work, not a problem. Watch your kids for 3-hours while you get a pedicure and a facial, no sweat. Their to-do lists are a mile long and under close scrutiny you'll find the items for themselves are always at the bottom, pushed to the next hour, the next day, the next month. They have trouble saying "no" to people, especially people they really care about and when they are absolutely unable to give anymore and have to squeak out an "I'm so sorry, but I just can't" the guilt eats them alive.
The thing is, even though we have this knowledge of these people, we still take. We ask, without remorse, for them to do one more thing, take on one more project, one more task, one more "to-do". We shower them with praise (which they eat up) and know this is our "in" with them. Givers are kind people with a good heart and a little love and affection, a few "atta-boys", and a smile go a long way. They are the proverbial Golden Retrievers of the human world, anxious to please. They respond easily to being told they are great, they are the best for the job, they are the only one who could really do it right, and the "takers" take advantage. All day, every day.
How do I know this? Because I've known at least one giver in my life quite intimately. A person who gives of themselves to others rarely finding any coveted "me" time (and feeling absolutely guilty when they do). The time spent doing things for others overwhelms this person upon occasion and then the next thing you know - KABOOM! Massive explosion, implosion all over themselves and anyone within their reach. You will most likely never witness this moment, only those in the very interior circle ever do because let's face it, givers are proud people, too. They will melt down, mold back up, and layout a beautiful facade of false bravado for you to see. And should you ever find yourself a part of this moment, it never ceases to amaze me that when one of these "givers" finally loses it society looks at them with a "how dare you?" expression. Really - is that the best we can do for people that regularly save our asses time after time after time?
Professionally, this is me (if you haven't noticed yet) and I find I give so much time to my job that my family, my faith, and my fastidious desire to be a good balanced person takes a hit way too often. This idea of being on the receiving end of lemon chucking has caused me to take pause and consider what I'm giving away to others and I admit, it has come to a screeching halt this year where it can. I used to go to everything, sponsor anything, participate in any fundraiser, edit any story, return every phone call, etc...etc...etc...until last year my son looked at me and said, "Mommy, you do so much stuff at school with your kids but you never come to my school." Talk about breaking my heart! I've spent so much time nurturing relationships and work milestones that I've allowed my own child to move down on the list, a place he should never be! It is with this idea I take up my tennis racket against chuckers - be prepared to have it slapped back at you.
This isn't to say I'm out of the giving game, but it is to say that I'm learning when and how to say no; a skill I'm not well equipped with especially at work. But somethings got to give and it isn't me any more!
This may not be my most profound blog, or even one that generates much interest because it's more of a rant than anything else, but I write this with the idea of asking you which side of this tennis match are you on - are you chucking lemons at people? And if you are, stop it.