Beggars Can’t Be Choosers

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“Please. Don’t do this. Don’t go,” I said softly. No, I begged softly. I tried not to beg loudly because that’s unbecoming. But my pleas were in fact begging. Because I knew if he walked out that door that night, I would never see him again. He said he had to go, he had to go think, he needed space, he said he’d call. And he never did. We broke up a week later by email.

I knew the moment he said he had to go, I knew it was over. I wasn’t asking him to spend the night after dinner. I was begging him not to walk out of my life. I wasn’t ready. I thought I had more time with him. He was ready though. And so for the first time in my life, I didn’t beg beg. I let him go.

A friend recently told me how she had a bad night with her husband–they were arguing, and she begged him to give her more time, to stay in the relationship until she could change. She was working on her issues, and she begged him to keep giving her a chance. She said the next morning, she realized she did not like that. She did not like who she was in those moments that night.

See, it was the tone she didn’t like. It was the place of origin from where that tone arose that she didn’t like–the place deep inside her where insecurity and neediness and uncertainty live. The request, the begging, came from a place inside that wants certainty, it’s trying to quell the anxiety of not knowing. She knew that begging for the sake of being in a relationship is not who she wants to be any longer. She knows now the person she wants to be is the person who uses her words to voice her feelings and needs in an appropriate way. She knows she wants to be the person who is comfortable in her own skin. Not a person who begs to stop the anxiety and discomfort for the sake of not losing a relationship.

I know this place inside of her, because I used to live there too. Begging in itself is not bad. I’d likely beg for my life. Beg for my children’s lives. Beg for food if we were homeless. But I won’t beg to be loved. I won’t beg to be in a Couple. I used to. Oh, how I used to.

This summer, I was at a beach with a friend. I had not been to that particular beach in seven years. Sitting on a bench at night, I suddenly remembered the last time I was there, on a bench at night, seven years ago. I was on the phone with my then-boyfriend. Oh, I loved him so. There had always been something electric between us. We’d been through a lot through the years, off and on, mostly off. But when it was on, my God, it was On. And I was on the phone with him that night seven years ago. Something about the conversation, his distant tone, something incited panic in me. I knew that night. I knew it was over. He didn’t actually leave me until months later, but I knew that night it was the beginning of the end. So for months, I begged in not-so-subtle ways. I called. A lot. I was needy. Very needy. I panicked. A lot. I was trying so hard to hold on to him, to the relationship. Until one day, he just stopped calling. I did not like who I was in those months.

I’ve since learned that it’s not the question. It’s not the plea in itself. It’s not the content that matters. But it’s from where the plea arises from that matters. I am no longer the person who frantically claws at the nearest thing when she feels she’s drowning in confusion and uncertainty and pain. I am no longer the person who reaches out to fill her soul. I am no longer the person who feels she needs something outside of her to calm her insecurities. I am no longer the person who depends on external validation and love to be love, to feel love, to give love.

I have since asked people to not go just yet. I have since asked people to come back please. But it has not been begging. Because it comes from a place of being vulnerable and authentic and for a process and the practice instead of an outcome. It’s in these details that make all the difference. It’s in this internal shift that makes all the difference.

The old saying goes Beggars Can’t Be Choosers. Indeed. When I used to beg, I could not choose myself over others, I could not choose loving kindness over desperation. I could not choose self-respect over neediness. I could not choose unconditional love over heavy expectations.

So now I Choose. I choose to use my words. I choose to examine my intent; examining it, turning it over and under and feeling all its nooks and crannies with both of my hands and heart. I choose to do things that are good for me, even if they’re hard decisions, even if there’s pain and loss. When given a choice, Be a Chooser, not a Beggar.

 

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22 Responses to Beggars Can’t Be Choosers

  1. Beautiful, heartfelt and wise. I agree that there is a big difference in asking versus begging. Congrats on your growth, willingness to authentic and open in your life and with us. blessings, Brad

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  2. Dani says:

    This is like water to a parched heart.

    No one should beg to be loved.
    I’m glad we’ve both learned that lesson.

    Heart,
    Dani

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  3. Wendy says:

    This brought back some hard memories and some new realizations. Thanks for writing it. Beautifully done.

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    • Thank you so much, Wendy! I find that writing helps keep me honest–helps me unpackage and repackage old memories and experiences as I experience new ones or ponder my loved ones’ issues. Thank you always for reading!

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  4. We know but we often forget, there is always a choice. And with any choice, nurturing one’s self is vitally important. Many consider taking care of our needs and wants first, to be selfish. It isn’t, at all. Your awareness and choosing to share a bit of you, is encouraging and appreciated.

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    • Thank you for the reminder there is always a choice! Oftentimes the choices are not optimal, but they’re choices nonetheless. I think also you bring up a good point–I don’t think “selfish” is a bad thing in and of itself. It’s really just self-care, and as with anything, if done with good boundaries, grace and kindness, there’s nothing inherently bad about it. Thank you for such wise reminders!

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  5. SBB says:

    I, too, have begged. Thank you for putting words to my experience.

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    • Thank you for sharing, S. You are right–I was thinking about your comment, and yes. Even then I felt what I was doing. I didn’t like it. I couldn’t put it into words all those times I’ve done it before. Thanks for elucidating that!

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  6. JunkChuck says:

    Back when I was a very young man, still a kid mostly, I dated a girl off and on–mostly on–for 5 years. At the end, I spent a summer away from her and realized how small and mundane a life with her would be, and resolved to break up with her. While summoning the strength to end this love across 2000 miles of telephone lines, she hit me first–the crying, cracking, apologizing “so so sorry” of dismissal. Though I should have been elated, I was hurt and spent months trying to win her back–I drove back home humiliated myself with pleading phone calls, pathetic begging disguised as romantic letters, and awkward hours spent together. That ending haunts me even now, 25 years later. A better man might feel guilty about how difficult I made the situation, but all I really think about is how undignified I behaved.

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    • Thank you so much for sharing this. I would have to say though, it was not undignified. It was a panicked reaction, when you felt hurt and vulnerable. You tried so hard to stop those uncomfortable feelings. So I would say not undignified, but a very valid response when feeling so vulnerable–we’ve all done it, many times over in so many ways. This is being human. Uncoupling, regardless of who makes the first move, is difficult and messy and wrought with mis-steps and pain. I don’t think it’s supposed to be easy. It just is. We have plenty of things to bring into today to haunt each of ourselves, please don’t let this be one of them. We as humans are not at our finest when hurt. At least I know I am not 🙂

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  7. sf says:

    Your story reminds me of a boyfriend I used to have. We’d have big fights and break up numerous times. But when we got back together again, I was relieved. Not because he made me happy, but because for the dumb reason of not wanting to be single. That was really dumb because I was waiting for anyone better to come along and join with. But who’s gonna come along when I was already known to be attached? (the other bad relationships didn’t happen until after I had broke up permanently with this guy) Anyhow, years later, here I am single, but waaaaay much more sane. Now, I have no one to nag, wonder why he won’t change, wonder when he’s going to be nicer to me, etc. Now I don’t have to worry about ridiculous things like that anymore, which I used to waste my time with in bad relationships. If things go bad, then I can check myself and ask God for direction. No more blaming my partner or praying for God to change him. Life’s just simpler a whole bunch now, I guess. Less heartache by dudes, that’s for sure. Thanks for sharing your story in this post. Bet we’ve all been there: Looking for love in all the wrong places. A happy Sunday to ya!

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    • Thank you for sharing this! Isn’t it funny how we feel relieved to not feel panicked, and we’ll gladly take the devil we know? I also am grateful that I have learned otherwise. I’ve recently encouraged a friend also to not keep placeholders as men in her life–it occupies the space and energy of someone who deserves to be there. For some reason I think we learn it’s not so bad to just pass the time with mediocre, thinking Great will one day come along, so why not….I am right there with you now–now I choose who I spend my time and energies on, they are people who are worth it, experiences that are worth it. Simpler, and so much better! A very Happy Sunday to you as well, and a wonderful week ahead!

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  8. So beautifully writing and I relate with still raw emotions to every word.

    Someone important to me walked out of my life 6 weeks ago without a goodbye or explanation. 2 months before that I know the end was coming. I did everything you described and felt every emotion. I panicked, I was needy, I obsessed when I didn’t hear from him within a specific time frame etc. I was so desperate. I didn’t lije tge person I was becoming.

    Despite the pain I feel now, it’s still better than being in that very low place. I have control over myself. I don’t have control over others.
    Thank you for writing such a timely piece.

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    • I’m so very sorry for your loss, for your intense grief. I relate also to the disappearance without a word–that for me, made things so much more difficult to understand, to accept, to process.

      I hope my words help in some way with your healing, with your processing of this all. I understand also the relief felt when no longer in a state of chronic panic and anxiety.

      I am in awe of you, that you know you control yourself, and not much else. That realization and understanding is something many do not ever get, and it will serve you well through this process, and in all things in life.

      I am sending you support and love and warm arms to wrap around you in your grieving process. I don’t know if this piece might also help: https://bonnevivantelife.wordpress.com/2013/11/27/on-loss-and-grief/

      Hugs to you, and thank you so much for sharing your story and your heart-

      Liked by 1 person

  9. One of the best posts I’ve come across. Loved your thoughts on all of it. Thanks for the painful honesty. You came through w/ the truth because you’re stronger than you were then. =) And I think a lot of women do or would beg him to stay in all those subtle ways, trying oh so hard to please…trying oh SO hard. And THAT is what sends them hopping over that fence all the way. Just love the thoughtful excavation. Many can’t do this, not only bc they can’t articulate it to themselves but because they simply don’t have the courage to stare at the mirror.

    Love,
    Diana

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