A lot of bad advice – some solicited, most decidedly not – over the years.
1. “If you don’t want to have a baby, just have one.”
2. “You should get married so my daughters can be flower girls at your wedding.”
3. “Just feel sorry for them and help.”
Of these three, only the third has been truly damaging (the first two are blatantly self-serving, but also so patently ridiculous as to be laughable – actually laughed in the face of Advice Giver #2).
Of the three, the third has caused me so much trouble, some heartache.
No one wants to be pitied. To help or be with anyone just because you pity them diminishes you both. Makes you linger in a relationship long after it’s gone bad; makes you engage in one that was bad to begin with. Makes you excuse behaviour (yours, theirs) that in any other circumstance (i.e. those outside the parameters of the pity party circle) would simply not stand in the harsh but brilliant light of day.
Took a while to learn all that because it sounds good, doesn’t it? Pity does.
1. a. sympathetic sorrow for one suffering, distressed, or unhappy; b. capacity to feel pity.
It is as evidently self-serving as it is apparently self-sacrificing. It’s what allows you to invest massive amounts of emotional and physical labour – of time, effort and expense – with little or no or (more often than not), negative return.
All because you feel sorry for someone. Because you feel bad for them. Because you’re a good person doing a good thing for someone you truly, truly needs it (and from you in particular).
I have stayed in all manner of toxic relationships because of pity. Pity is what kept us together, even if it kept us down.
Whose fault is that? Whose responsibility? Who’s to be held accountable?
2. something to be regretted.
More’s the pity, I suppose.
And less is more.