I read this in either Ann Landers or Dear Abby, also. And in Guideposts. But it's stayed with me ever since:
THE YOUNG MAN AND THE SNAKE
A young man was out on his manhood quest one fall day, trying to decide what task he would under take to prove his manhood, when he came upon a tall mountain, topped with the first snow of the year.
"This will be my test," thinks the young man to himself as he started to climb.
The climb was hard and long, but the young man completed his task. Then as he rested on top of the mountain he heard a soft voice... "Help me," it said.
The young man looked for the voice, and there he found a rattlesnake dying in the snow. The snake pleaded with the young man to save him from the
cold, but the young man said "No, mister snake, for if I pick you up you'll bite me and I'll be the one that dies".
"No No," said the snake. "I shall not harm the one that is to save me. If I do, surely I shall die in this
The young man gave this some thought and decided to help the snake, so he picked up the snake put him in his shirt and started his long climb down the mountain.
When they reached the valley below, the young man removed the snake from his shirt and placed it gently on the ground; then the snake struck and bit the man.
"Why did you bite me?" pleaded the man.
The snake just looked at him and said, "You knew what I was when you picked me up!"
Whether it's a monkey on your back or a spouse with whom you are having problems, or even a child who isn't quite living up to your ideals... this holds true.
It's like the lyrics of the George Jones song...
"... living and dying with the choices I've made."
You chose to pick up the snake. Don't blame anyone else.
Truly, it was YOUR choice.