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One of my strengths is that, in general, I mean what I say and say what I mean.

My kids find this both comforting, and maddening.  I have heard them say, on more than one occasion, "Once she says 'no' that's it – there's no moving her."

But there are some places I am quite inconsistent in.

Take spiders in the house.  Generally, I think of spiders as a good thing, because they eat many of the bugs that really annoy me.  So by-and-large, if I see an eight-legger, I will usually live and let live (unless my daughter, who LOATHES them is around, in which case, I will capture them and set them free  outside).  However, occasionally, I smoosh them.  What determines the benevolance or the excecution?  No idea.

Similarly, with mice in my barn.  I think mice are adoreable.  If they didn't multiply like, well, mice, and if their droppings didn't carry disease, I would just share my space and resources.  But I learned the hard way one winter and actually lost an animal to disease caused by an exploding population of mice.  So, when I see them, I steel myself and set out traps.  But, my snapping traps are not always effective, especially if they only catch a tail.  What do I do?  Of course, I set the mouse free!  The other day, I set four free, only to catch them more lethally the next day.  I rescued one from our indoor cat earlier this year, because the cat didn't just kill it – it was "playing" with it to death, and I knew that mouse would suffer for hours.  So I took it a block away and released it in a field.  

There are other examples of this strange behavior – eighteen months ago, I stopped buying meat at the grocery store, because I was horrified at what animals go thorough in the process of being raised enmass and slaughtered.  But the problem is that I actually really LIKE meat, and I hate being around high-maintenance people, so I'm not going to become one by going whole-hog (no pun intended) with this.  When I am with other people, I consume what they are enjoying.  What is that, if not totally inconsistent?

I think what is happening with the spiders, the mice, the food, and numerous other examples, is that I have a low tolerance for suffering.  Somehow, I am assessing what will cause more distress for me and for the other individual and I choose the lesser of the two.  For example, I hate the way wasps crunch when you kill them – it totally disgusts me (i.e. makes me suffer), so 9 times out of ten, I will find a way to get it to leave peacefully, rather than kill it.  But if I can find their nests, I have absolutely no compunctions against spraying it – we go through five cans of the foaming death each summer.  I HATE wasps.  So, obviously, my high regard for life has some limits.

This sounds semi-noble, or at least eccentricly interesting, until you apply it with people.

All real relationships require eventual uncomfortablness .  Some form of exposure.  Most certainly confrontation of differences. And reality causes pain at varying levels.  Do I do what is best for them, in terms of authenticity and honesty, even if it creates anxiety and distress within me?

Like the previous examples, I am inconsistent.  Even though I would like to believe I am not.

Good thing I'm mid-life … I've still got time to grow.