Who rescues the rescuers? On addiction, passivity, and power.

Who rescues the rescuers? When there is a natural disaster there are always people who go rescue those who are trapped by the floodwaters or under the flattened building. Who takes care of them? What kind of lives do they live so that they are able to help others? Maybe we can learn from them so we don’t need to be rescued so often.

If you keep not looking out for yourself, you’ll keep needing to be rescued. Your problems will always be someone else’s problems to fix in your mind. The mark of an adult is the ability to take care of yourself. Adulthood has nothing to do with age. There are plenty of people in their fifties and older who still need to be rescued.

For some people, life is all about reacting to problems instead of planning ahead. For some people the same bad things keep happening over and over and they just don’t seem to notice the pattern. They are always late with their bills, late getting ready in the morning, just late late late. They find they have some incurable disease because they ignored the symptom or they didn’t take care of themselves for years. They barely have enough energy to take care of themselves, much less anyone else.

What do you do if you lock yourself out of your house? Wait till your parents or roommate come home? Call a locksmith? Or do you already have a spare key stored away in a safe spot? Do you have a ritual to make sure you always have your keys with you?

Then there is the idea that “you can always go home.” Plenty of people have their parents as a backup plan in case they get laid off or they get divorced. They will move back in with their parents. But what if you can’t? What if your parents are dead? What would you do differently about your life then to make sure you are OK? Would you move in with your friends, or would you have been saving money all along? Would you have had a backup plan?

Always thinking that someone else will take care of it will mean you always need someone to take care of it.

I knew a guy who was constantly running out of gas, locking his keys in his car, and forgetting his wallet. Every week one of these things would happen, and his parents would rescue him. How much of this was his attitude, and how much of this was their rescuing him? What would he have done if they were out of town? Be more mindful? Plan ahead?

When he got addicted to prescription pain pills that he was taking recreationally, he again blamed it on others. He was passive about it. “Why do bad things keep happening to me?” he wailed. Bad things don’t keep happening. He kept letting them happen.

Nobody forced him to take drugs recreationally. That was his choice. It didn’t happen to him. He did it to himself. And he kept doing it, until his wife left him and he’d pawned everything he had to get the next fix.

When does it become too painful to keep doing the same thoughtless things? When does it become easier to plan ahead? When do we wake up and take responsibility for our lives? When do we become people who don’t need to be rescued?

Maybe it has something to do with nobody is around to rescue us anymore, and we have to fly with our own wings for a change. Just like with baby birds, it is hard at first, but then we get strong.