Monday, September 14, 2009

Mid-Life Crisis, Part 1
Dragging A Horse To Water
Is No Substitute

"I have a spot on my lungs," he revealed.

I lit another cigarette and nodded with understanding.

He smiled and lit another one too.

(Excerpt, Part 5 or 6)


Yeah, I know that sounds fucked up, and on some level it is, but it was one of those you had to be there moments.

I hardly knew Rocco when he said these words to me. He's my new roommate. I felt not sadness when he revealed this, but a strange camaraderie - that past week back in mid-July, I had been coughing up a spat of blood each morning.

But lemme first go back even further in time, and later I'll continue with this part of the story.

This is Part 1 of my new series, Mid-Life Crisis.


The New Year brought not the blues, but the lighter version of the blahs. My past remedy was to throw myself into work or doing nice shit for people, usually fam or friends but not always.

Work was thin in 2008. It wasn't a bad year, and politically it was so exciting that I began blogging. In my free time, I was generous with folks who needed help. Problem was, toward the end of that year, I wasn't picky enough with whom I shared my time and energy.

There's a concept called The Law of Diminishing Returns. As a relationship or project begins, the more you give, the more you get back. This works only up to a certain point. Then you began to get back less.

This 'law' particularly applies to business, but also dating, friendships, and parenting. It meshes nicely with another concept in the addictions field called co-dependency. That's when you do way too much for others, stuff they can and should do for themselves. Instead you carry their burden or responsibility.

The blowback comes when you meet apathy, resistance or even hostility while trying to help someone. They might have a hidden agenda and be using you, or they might not really want your help, although they may hint otherwise or outright lie that they do.

The more people involved, the more complicated the relationship dynamics. Think of the sickest office you've ever worked in, and how often it's only a few folks - usually with one or two near or at the top of the hierarchy who allow shit to happen - and together they screw it up for everyone else. We've seen this on political levels since time began, and chances are, you've been in a tight relationship with someone like that.

They keep the drama going so the problems can't be fixed. If you dig around and find out the real reasons and motivations of this person or these people, they may retaliate and try to fuck you over in ways that make you think they've never heard of the words ethics or honesty, and they like being like that.

So if you're feeling like you're getting the 'No good deed will go unpunished' treatment, or being used by a friend, lover, spouse, group, or place of employment, it's time to walk away - particularly if the situation ain't really worth it, or if that special someone or others are apathetic or scared to fight for change. Stick around too long trying to help make things better in your quest for inner fulfillment or altruistic motives, and you may end up suffering from a mean case of burnout.

As my late father used to say often, "You can take a horse to water, but you can't make him drink."

Keep trying to make that pony drink to quench your own thirst for his or her well-being, and you'll burn out before he does.

The thing is, I almost always pick up clues of pathology in others in the beginning, but ignored my inner voice - the one that so often whispers, not shouts - its warning that all is not well.

Wouldn't have happened if I hadn't been so lonely...


This was Part 1 in my series, Mid-Life Crisis.
To be continued...


  1. Hi. Thought I'd make myself known after lurking for the past week.

    All I can say is "here's your co-sign" (no Bill Engvall). I've been tired and feeling stuck as of late myself, so I'm looking for another gig (I'm employed, but finally understand that I'm too old for the call center racket).

    Thanks for the heads up, Kit.

  2. Looking forward to reading the rest of your tale.

  3. Keep it Trill, great post. I think we all can relate to giving too much of ourselves at some point in life. This was a constant lesson for me, until I realized that regardless of what you do (or don't do), people will still end up doing what they want to do - and only that - at the end of the day. And once you're all burnt out, that person will keep doing exactly what they were doing before you bent over backwards to help them. And they most likely won't help you recover.

  4. You got me waiting for the next installment!

  5. Welcome back, Kit! But you set up some worries here -- hope you're okay, and that you get back to that good blogging you used to do. AND that you get back to the rest of this story, real soon.

  6. Thanks everyone! I'm just about ready to post Part 2 this morning.


Hi, this is Kit.

I haven't posted since summer 2010, and comment moderation has been on for a very long time.

My old blogger friends (you know who you are) are welcome to email me.

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