You can’t keep getting mad at people for sucking the life out of you if you keep giving them the straw …

I like to collect inspiring memes. Little quotes (either attributed or anonymous) that speak to me. Sometimes they languish unseen in my meme file for months and then suddenly pop up again quite unexpectedly, usually at the time they are most necessary.

This is one such quote (allegedly from a site called

“You can’t keep getting mad at people for sucking the life out of you if you keep giving them the straw.”


It’s that pesky accountability thing again, right? That thing where even though you are certain someone else is at fault, it is you yourself not only allowing that fault to transpire but facilitating it to boot.

I find myself, at this moment, guilty as charged. Apparently I am not very good at setting boundaries. Or implementing them (once set). Especially when it comes to my friends. I am blessed to have many close chums and I feel incredibly lucky to have them in my life. So, if someone needs me and then needs me again and then needs me and keeps needing me until their need for me becomes pretty much the largest focus of my life, I allow it to happen. I mean seriously, when someone is in need THAT desperately, how can you turn them away? How can you ask them to need you less? How can you demanded that they stop forcing that need upon you so intensely you feel like you might explode when you know that THEY are on the verge of imploding and you just might be the only barrier between annihilation and salvation?

Now … take a breath and go back and read what I just wrote. Do you see how imperious that sounds? How arrogant? How self-important? Without ME they will perish?


I’m not saying impossible and I do understand there are times when someone truly is quite literally at the end of their rope and YES OF COURSE that is when we NEED to be there.

But here is what I have recently learned (the hard way): some people, when given an inch, will in fact take a mile and then another. They will interrupt your life at any time for any reason, they will continue to demand your attention even when you (passively) choose not to give it and then they will continue to clamour for your time and energy until you are exhausted. And then, when they finally realize they have darn near killed you, they will take their needy attentions elsewhere, leaving you to wonder what YOU did wrong.

I think we all want to believe that friendships are symbiotic and we can all hope they will be – for the most part. But nothing is ever 50-50 and the best we can achieve is 60-40 going BOTH WAYS; sometimes this and sometimes that, depending on who needs what when.

These are the friendships I crave. And nurture.

I can even handle 80-20 … for a time. Just not indefinitely.

My grown son sometimes needs me a lot. I can easily become the sponge for his (figurative) tears until the weight of that sopping responsibility seems crushing. But then he sorts himself out, moves on and needs me very little. Back and forth we go.

That’s okay. Because I am his MOTHER!! He was born to this role and I signed up for it whole-heartedly. It’s not always easy but it is always my job and my joy.

This is not the case with my friends. We CHOSE each other. Yes, we signed up for friendship and devotion and solidarity and affinity. We did not sign up for self-destruction. You do not get to destroy my health – mental, emotional or physical – because of YOUR need. You are a grownup. At some point, please, be like my son, sort yourself out and move on.

And if I have far too often offered you the straw … mea culpa. Maybe I need to be needed a little more than I thought?

But if I offered you that straw time and time again and you even unknowingly sucked the life out of me, we both have a problem.

I am on the path to remedying mine. I will no longer be available to help you remedy yours. The doctor has become sicker than the patient.

This is not to say that our friendship is done. It is only to say that the relationship WE have created in recent years MUST change.

Which brings me to another meme (anonymous) that just landed in my orbit:

“A part of healing is also understanding how YOU were toxic.”

“Toxic” is a pretty heavy word. I will choose instead …


I am a fully accountable friend. As we all should be.

About winesoakedramblings - The Blog of Vickie van Dyke

Writing is therapy. Wine is therapy. Writing while drinking wine is the best therapy. Reading while drinking can also be fun. Listening while drinking is also fun so check out my podcast! And then there's that book (memoir) that I wrote: Confessions of a Potty-Mouthed Chef: How to Cheat, Eat and be Happy! My life has provided me with a wealth of inspiration. Maybe something here will inspire you too? ~Vickie
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