Bird Bath 5/12/23

Thoughts with Richard Bleil

Spring seems to have sprung.  With it come the birds.  I put out seed for the birds every day year round, and fill the bird bath.  In the winter, unfortunately, the hose freezes so I have to bring out hot water so I have to bring out hot water by hand.  This means that I can’t clean out the bath as I like to.

In the spring, I use the hose.  Every day, before filling the bowl, I rinse out the bowl.  As a chemist, I was trained to rinse glassware three times, so, I blow out all of the water and add a bit three times before filling it.  It has occurred to me that the same hose that can fill the bowl can also empty and rinse it.

It’s not a difficult stretch to see this as a lesson.  It makes me think about those friends that I have had to let go of through the years, people whose presence in my life at first made me feel fulfilled and happy, and yet, in time they sapped my energy.

There was an old television show that centered around a psychologist (no, not that one, the other one where he had a radio show).  I always enjoyed it but there was one episode that I recall very clearly, in which he was having a difficult day.  It seemed as if every time he turned around, there was somebody else needing something.  When he got home, his brother, housekeeper, and friend were all there, and all started talking at him simultaneously, all wanting something, and he snapped.  He went into a tirade about how all day long, he gives a little piece of himself to everybody, but there is only so much he can give.

We, you and I, are wells of inspiration and strength for those around us.  Not everybody needs it, and those who do don’t need it every day, but the reality is that our supply of those vibes is limited.  It doesn’t feel that way when we’re young, but as we get older, have more responsibilities and stress, the well feels far more shallow. 

Stress does change how we respond.  Growing up, I was always the kid who was bullied, but for the most part I could just take it.  I could maintain my cool, and still have enough left in my well to be there for my friends when they were struggling with something. 

But the problem with being the “good guy” is that people take advantage.  I had so many female friends who would turn to me when they needed to vent about their boyfriends, but I never had a girlfriend.  I was the “nice guy” who would let them talk without trying to make a move, despite the fact that I so wanted to go out with many of them. 

I’ve had friends who were far too needy.  Many of them were addicts and tried to pull me into their abyss.  I’ve tried to help friends, honestly believing that I could help, and honestly having love for them.  My former wife fits into this category.  She was a recovering alcoholic when I met her and tried to help her out.  Unfortunately, I was not aware of this when we met and provided the wine on our first date that made her fall off of the wagon.  After discovering the truth, I tried to help her.  Unfortunately, she was one of those alcoholics that was very well practiced at manipulating people who tried to help, and that was me.  I felt like my life well was full on the day we married, but it didn’t take time for her to drain that well.  At the end, being with her was draining to the point where there was just nothing left for me.

The hardest thing that I’ve ever done is to give up on people I cared about because they were dragging me down.  And yet, it’s one of the most important things that a person can do for themselves and their own emotional health.  That same source that I thought was filling my well was emptying it.

Sometimes it’s tough to recognize those relationships that are costing too much in emotional well-being, but once you do, I wish you the strength to sever those ties.  Whether they are doing it intentionally or not, the price of some friendships is just too high.  For your own good, let them go, and let your well recover and refill.


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