I am a manipulator
I’ve come to realize it over the years. It’s not a pleasant thought, nor is it something I’m proud of. But it’s a necessary truth I have to deal with within my soul and spirit.
I spent a great deal of my youth manipulating members of the opposite sex to get them to do whatever I wanted. There was actually a support group in high school for guys who had dated, touched, spoken to, or even looked at me.
I was THAT girl, and I liked it. It was fun and empowering to be the user instead of the used…or so I thought.
Sex Is Bad; Sex Is Dirty — Save It for the One You Love and Marry
Recently, I had the sex talk with my ten-year-old daughter. Well, not THE sex talk, but A sex talk.
Real relationships can’t be built on manipulation.
One of the reasons I married my husband was because he called me out on my tendency to manipulate after I tried it on him a decade later.
He was stronger. He was smarter. He wasn’t going to put up with it, nor was he ever going to try to manipulate me in any way. He wasn’t interested in playing games, and once I met him I wasn’t either.
I’d met my perfect match.
Still, old habits die hard
Several years ago, just before the birth of my second daughter, there was a holiday luncheon for everyone at work. They were giving away prizes through a special drawing. Some people even got cash.
One of the guys I work with won fifty dollars, and I didn’t win anything. We were talking after lunch, and I (half-jokingly), said, “You know, I’m pregnant. I probably need that fifty dollars more than you do, so you should give it to me.”
And he agreed that he probably should, but he didn’t hand it over right away.
At about the same time, I spotted another coworker (female), and said to her, “Hey. Tell him to give me his fifty dollars because I need it more than he does.”
This other coworker, who knows me much better, knew I was joking, so she told him to give the money to me too.
As a joke…I think.
And he handed over the envelope with the fifty-dollar bill inside.
I was amazed, and I asked him if he was sure he wanted to do that.
He said yes, so I took the money.
It was one of the sweetest things anyone had done for me in a long time, and I was thrilled. I hugged him.
Then, I went away with his easy-come, easy-go money, feeling pretty proud of myself…and grateful too.
But it didn’t feel so good later
Later on, I started wondering if I should have taken the money at all.
I mean, the guy seemed happy enough to give it away, and maybe the good feeling he got from helping someone else out was enough payment for him.
But I felt rotten.
I felt like I had taken advantage of the situation purely for my own personal gain. And, while I didn’t actually use force to get what I wanted (and I even wondered whether I really wanted the money in the first place), I did use an accomplice, so that seemed almost as bad as coercion.
Calling it like it is
Basically what happened, if it wasn’t coercion, was manipulation. The Dictionary.com definition of manipulate?
To manage or influence skillfully.
I definitely did that by playing the pregnant card, and I even enlisted help!
So, I, along with my female coworker, manipulated an act of kindness out of my male coworker.
Not so random, really.
Does this diminish the act of kindness?
I don’t think it diminishes what he did at all. It was still a very sweet thing to do.
He could’ve refused to hand over the cash. I’m not exactly sure how, with all that female pressure, but he could have. He chose not to refuse to give me that gift, and I’m still very grateful so many years later.
I definitely was able to use the money.
However, I still sort of feel guilty for how the whole thing went down.
My purpose in sharing this
I’m writing my story as a sort of confession. Not long after this incident, I had my baby and never went back to work. They decided to eliminate my position while I was still healing.
I never saw that man again. I don’t even remember his name, so there is no way I could ever make it up to him.
I’m also writing this as a reminder to anyone reading this that acts of kindness — even random ones — are great things. And it wouldn’t be a bad idea to do something randomly nice for someone else every day.
I just pray your good acts and good intentions aren’t taken advantage of.