The leaky cup


Once upon a time there was a leaky cup. Whether it had a little hole in the bottom
or a crack on the side is unimportant. The cup leaked. A lot. And it hated the fact it leaked.  Because it always went dry and it could not get full.

One day, the leaky cup decided that if only someone could pour enough into it that it would get full.  So the leaky cup went in search of the mythical person who could fill it up to the brim and keep it happy.

Of course, the result was predictable. No matter how much liquid of any kind a person poured into the cup, the cup was always on the losing end of things. And if there was a sort of equilibrium gained through pouring at the same rate the liquid leaked out, sooner or later the person pouring got tired or ran out of liquid and the leaky cup went dry again.

The cup argued and cried, yelled and sulked, pleaded and begged, complained bitterly about the inequity of things, became indignant and blamed the person with the liquid for not taking care of things in the right way.  Meanwhile, the bewildered pourer finally gave up pouring from lack of liquid, lack of time, or sheer exhaustion. The cup went from person to person, asking politely at first and then demanding more, more, more. And when the person could not give more the cup flounced off in search of that ideal pourer.

At various times the selected victim pourer suggested calking or other ways of patching up the leak in the cup, but the cup was greatly insulted and insisted that the fault was in the person doing the pouring, rather than in the structure of the cup itself.  In fact, the cup eventually convinced the pourers they must be mad to think the cup itself could not hold liquid.

Many persons exhausted themselves attempting to help the leaky cup. But sooner or later the leaky cup would have had enough of failure and move on to the next mythical cup filler.

The moral to the story is…If you find you cannot fix the problem with a leaky cup that has taken up residence in your bed house life heart  cupboard, THROW IT OUT! QUICK!

Letting a leaky cup tell you the leak is not his her it’s problem means assuming all the responsibility for fixing the problem.  Pouring faster isn’t the solution. It never will be.  It will only make you feel defective for being unable to fill the cup up.  It only took me 20 years to figure it out.

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4 responses

  1. I guess this is your metaphor of co-dependency?

    1. I’m not sure what sort of metaphor it is. It is a metaphor about a real life experience. It is placed in metaphoric form in order to enable others in relationship with a “spousal unit,” a friend, or even an acquaintance or work buddy to consider that if this person reminds them of a leaky cup that always needs tending that the leaky cup won’t hold liquid until it is fixed. And fixing is an INSIDE JOB.

      In my world I’d say it is a metaphor for gaslighting, emotional abuse, controlling and manipulative behaviors, and preying on the kindness of others. Is also about the confusion of the “helping person” who keeps thinking “Well, that task is done so now I can move on to the next thing.” only to find out the task is NEVER DONE and there will NEVER BE ENOUGH.

      The impetus of this post was my recent training in providing services to the deafblind and the dawning realization that the blind person who had been in my life had and continues to have wildly unreasonable expectations. It was a slippery slope – the doing of one successful thing and thinking, “One check mark on the list” to a gradual enmeshment where there was a never ending list of things that were never able to be fully addressed. When it got crazy enough I quit playing the game. I. Was. Done! Of course, once one stops playing the game then the dungeon master goes and finds others to play with.

      However, it took years of frustrated puzzlement afterwards about WTF happened to me until members of the DB community put it in perspective. Gaslighting – the gift that keeps on giving. (sigh)

  2. angrymiddleagewoman | Reply

    I just wanted to let you know that that this story has stuck with me for days. Realizing that at times I have been both a leaky cup and a relentless pourer, well, you’ve definitely given me a lot to ponder.

    1. The great thing about realization that we may have both aspects in our character is that we have options for change. I’m a pourer. And the empty cups see me and KNOW…. I’m much better at running away than I was before. :)

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