I’m a big chicken.

You might, like me, be one of those moms who has a whole lot going on right now. But you’re kind of shocked at the nerve of some people who ask you to do certain things in spite of your children, your commitments, your obvious exhaustion. (They may be in your own family.) Or you may just be amazed by some people’s manners, and the things they actually say or do to you or your children.

I have someone like that in my life right now. There’s an apparent lack of ability to put herself in my shoes, to exercise some basic courtesies, the others-centered conscientiousness I’ve come to expect from many in my social circles. This person seems to be a consistent “taker” rather than a “giver.”

So I’ve recently found myself looking for empathy in my husband. “I want to be generous with her, but she just keeps taking!” “I can’t believe she even asks that!” “What am I supposed to say to that?!”

But my husband, the truth-loving/-saying man that he is, pointed out what hasn’t been so obvious to me before. “You know, don’t you, that if you don’t say anything to her, you can’t entirely blame her when it keeps happening.”

(I would have gone with, You’re right! I can’t believe she would do that.)

But he’s right. The truth is, many times when I’m not letting someone know how they’re hurting me, when I’m not drawing boundaries that help me to love my family better or help the person love other people better in the future, I’m actually being selfish. (In fact, I cringe when I realize that because I’ve lacked honesty, some of my friends may read this post and think, Is she talking about me? How embarrassing.)

Sometimes I don’t love enough to be honest and just say No, I can’t right now. Or maybe to tell them what I’d want someone to tell me: I felt hurt or taken advantage of when you … Or to temporarily upset the (somewhat fake) peace in our relationship to move to genuine love, genuine peace. Maybe I’m more fond of my image; I want to be the one who will do anything for anyone, or just the one who’s “so nice.” It subtly lowers the level of trust in a relationship, because we operate on a less-than-transparent level, operating instead on a level of saccharin and obligation. I’m a coward who likes her own comfort more than genuine relationship.

Ouch.

So instead of this being a “Wow, look what I’ve been learning!” post, take this as a “Wow, I’m still really an infant in this area” post. And hopefully it won’t be too long before my friends can read this post and know I’m not talking about them.