I’ve been thinking a lot about schnorrers. For those who didn’t grow up with a shrewd Jewish grandmother, a “schnorrer” is a Yiddish term for a freeloader–a layabout who, no matter how charming, simply doesn’t earn their keep.
Most of us have been schnorrers at some point, have drained others of their resources and good will (emotionally or conversationally, if no other way). Goddess knows I have been. I was raised by someone who wasn’t especially interested in parenting so I learned early to extract from others what I should have been getting at home. It was a habit that lasted far too long. Into my 40s, even. And when I finally began to address these habits, I turned around and started attracting schnorrers to me like flies, perhaps to understand the pain I’d caused.
The evolution from transactional behavior to open-hearted exchange is a really challenging one, especially in a country that espouses a dog-eat-dog individualism that conflates self-possession with selfishness. But I’ve been working with this concept a lot, especially in my intuition practice, where I bent so far backwards to prove I wasn’t a con artist that I did myself great harm in the first year of the pandemic.
This last year has been one of learning better boundaries, no matter how tough it can seem, to build infrastructure that supports everyone. Not offering free guidance because ultimately it’s not free to me and my health. And not expecting loved ones to provide more care than they have to give. It’s about the transition from survival to thrival (yes, I know that’s not really a word) and I’m still learning how networks based on compassion rather than credit can exist, let alone flourish.
All to say that today I drew a new line. In the past I would have felt so defensive that it would’ve translated into anger at the other person. Today I did it lovingly, even if they didn’t experience it that way. I felt compassion for their unconsciousness, compassion for the part of myself that so anxiously needs others to be in agreement with me. All in all I still feel shaky. Isn’t that always the case the first time we exert a muscle?