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No Strings Attached

What kind of friend or person are you?
1.  The type of person who does things for others without any expectations…You are just a nice person and are happy to do things for others……you know that if you are good to the world, the world will eventually somehow be good back to you….
2.  The type of person who does things for others…BUT…there are strings attached….you expect things in return at some point from that person you helped…..
This blog post is inspired by two types of people:
1).  People who do not have boundaries
2) People who have a hard time saying “NO” to people who have no boundaries
When I was newly divorced and a single mother of two kids, I moved “inside the loop” in Houston, Texas.  I wanted to be close to all of the neat things Houston has to offer (museums, zoo, parks, different cultures, etc). I rented a townhouse and started my new life. 
I enrolled Paige into a public school located in a section of town called  West University.  It was a nice part of town with lots of fun things to do.  William would go to Pre-K in the school district where I was teaching.  They had before and after school care for him.  I didn’t realize what a nightmare before and afterschool care would be for Paige.
The problem with the area that I rented a townhouse in was that almost all of the moms were stay at home moms.  I was one of the few that worked.  This meant that there were no daycares in the immediate area around my townhouse.  I knew that most schools had YMCA after school programs so that is where I would put Paige.  I met a nice lady whose daughter would be in Paige’s class.  She  asked me where Paige would go after school.  I mentioned the YMCA program.  She immediately began to offer for Paige to come to her house everyday after school and I could pick Paige up from her house.  She insisted several times that I do this.
The problem:
I do not like relying on other people for things.  This mom wanted no money and just offered out of the kindness of her heart to pick up my child from school every day after school.  This is a LOT.  I would much rather just ask her if I had an emergency come up and  put Paige in the YMCA after school program.  I thanked her very much and told her I was going to sign Paige up for the YMCA program.  She told me she knew someone at the school who ran the YMCA program and she would let me know when the deadline was to sign your child up.
I asked this mom several times if she had heard of when the YMCA registration was and she told it was a week before school started. We were in May so I had time. 
A week before school started, I called the school to register Paige for the YMCA after school program.  They informed me that their program had been full for a month.  They could put me on the waiting list.  Registration started in the beginning of the summer.
I was speechless.  I didn’t know what to do.  I went to the one daycare that did go to the school and I left there crying.  The AC did not work in the daycare.  There was NO way I was EVER sending my child to that place.  It was terrible.  The building was falling apart. 
The mom that I talked to earlier eagerly called me to offer to pick up Paige from school everyday.  I was very grateful for her offer but I had a weird feeling in my stomach…
Did this mom purposely have me miss the cutoff for the YMCA registration so that my daughter would go home with her daughter every day?
School started and I started my routine.  I dropped Paige off at school first.  Next we drove to Will’s Pre-K where I dropped him off.  I then went to my school and taught all day.  When teachers were allowed to leave, I would pick up William and then head towards Paige’s friends’ house to pick her up. 
At first I would pick her up, say thank you several times, and then go home.
A few weeks later, the mom started to insists that I stay for a while and have a coke and talk to her.
A few weeks after that, she would insits on us staying for dinner.  She was lonely and enjoyed the company of me and our daughters played well together.
The problems, though, was that after working all day, the last thing you want to do is go an “hang out” at someone’s house.
As the school year went on, I was guilted more and more into staying at this woman’s house longer and longer.  I couldn’t just pull up to her house, grab my daughter, and go home.
I became very angry inside.
I felt that I was a victim.  I wanted to put my daughter in the YMCA afterschool.  This woman wanted a friend to hang out with.  I felt like I had been tricked.  The problem was that at this point in my life, I had NO OTHER CHOICE than to just go along with this and count the days down until the end of the summer. 
I decided that I was going to move closer out to the suburbs where they had wonderful daycares and after school centers.  I could not be held hostage any longer. 
As I get older, I look around and see many different relationships.  Some relationships are healthy with people respecting each other’s boundaries  while other relationships are not healthy, with usually one person not being able to respect the boundaries of another person.
Positive Example:
I love my neighbors Carrie and Casey.  They are very respectful of us and we are very respectful of them.  If we make plans together but one of us decides that “we are just too tired” to go out to eat or hang out in the front yard, the other person is completely ok.  No one gets their feeelings hurt because we both understand that we all have very busy lifes and sometimes we make plans with great intentions but then things change.  Carrie and Casey are just easy to be friends with.  We do favors for each other all of the time.  However, no one is keeping tabs.  We just help each other out when we can because we want to.  They NEVER make me feel guilty if they ask for a favor and I can’t do it.  I HOPE that they don’t feel guilty when I ask for a favor and they can’t do it. 
Negative Example:
You have a friend who is always buying you things.  She wants to make sure you know what a good friend she is to you.  You are not comfortable with all of the gifts.  You feel that she is always buying you things because she knows that you will feel guilty if you don’t answer her phone calls. 
If you have to guilt a person into being your friend, there are serious problems.  You are completely disrespecting this person’s boundaries and are trying to manipulate the situation.  If you have to manipulate any situation, there is a problem.
I find that these people who have a hard time respecting people’s boundaries are usually the people who prey on others who they know have a hard time saying “NO.”  The older I get, the easier it is for me to say NO. 
Sometimes people are too nice and it is hard for them to tell someone that they don’t appreciate them not respecting them or their time. 
You should try to distance yourself from people who try to emotionally bully you and who are not respectful of boundaries.   If someone does something nice for you, tell them thank you and move on.  It is YOUR choice as to what type of nice things you do for others.  Do not become emotionally blackmailed by a person trying to take advantage of you.  If someone has to make you feel guilty to get their way, they are not a friend. 
I have learned that it is ok to ask for help every once in a while if you need it.  However, do not let someone manipulate you into any situation. 
The point of this blog is to promote the saying “no strings attached.”  If you do something nice for someone, don’t expect anything in return.  Do it out of the goodness of your heart. 
My question for you is this:  Do you know someone who is not respecting you or our boundaries?

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