The need to help others, in my experience, is one of the greatest weaknesses a person can have. Though posessing it is seen as a good thing and earns one the laurels of being noble or saintly, it's a bitter curse that follows those who posses it, often clean to their grave.
The bitter reality is that most people don't want to be helped. They think they do and they act as such, but what most people want is nothing more than reaffirmation for their own ideas and goals. They don't want you to tell them or help them get what they need, they want you to tell them what they think they need. Often times being helped requires more effort than the act of helping, but most people, even those at their lowest, aren't willing to put forth the effort to change their perspectives, mend their ways or open their minds.
The result, the people you try to save find themselves running in circles. As if trying to wear down the fabric of their souls, they place themselves in vicious cycles, unable to break free, constantly tricking themselves that they're making ground when nothing could be farther from the truth. An abusive boyfriend who brings home a rose is a saint just long enough to bring her back home, a backstabbing friend extends an olive branch just long enough to twist the knife again, an addict comes clean just long enough to let his friends pull him back down when he tries to save them, it's all the same, it's all a cycle.
Everyone knows that these things are lies. That most of the good things in the world are just illusions created by the cunning snakes that surround us. Still, we believe in them, we believe in them fully and totally not because we don't know better, but because we want to, we need to. The real world is far too cynical and vile a place for the human heart to survive, so, for many, naivete becomes a lifeline and those few of us that live in the real world are damned to eternal frustration, not because we ourselves become duped, but because those we care about do.
And in there lies the problem with caring. By caring, you take on someone's pain, someone's heartbreak, their misery. It's as if you reach inside them and pull out a fraction of their struggles and place it inside yourself, as if trying to lighten their burden by making it your own. Then you watch them as they go about their lives as if romping through a field of flowers, only to watch them get sucked down a hole. It's heart-wrenching, especially knowing that you couldn't stop them, that you couldn't save them and that, despite your better judgment and your stern warnings, they're suffering and you can't pull them out.
When I look back over the people I've tried to help, I don't see a string of successes or even checkerboard of successes and defeats, I see the faces of those I couldn't help. Those who spurned me and disappeared to parts unknown. They know who they are, I don't need to point them out, they all paid for their decisions, but yet, they all remain trapped in the same cycle that they were in before I met them, the cycle I tried to help them out of.
But yet, though they definitely suffered for their mistakes, I suffered as well. I let myself care for them, relate to them, sympathize with them and my only reward was a stern rebuttal and the heartbreak of watching them sink farther. All of my compassion has bought me nothing. Nothing save a curse that I can't seem to shake.
But as time has gone on, those souls have multiplied. It was as if they knew, by means of some cosmic force, that I felt this sick need to help others and that, they could turn to me. A few I've helped, and for those I am grateful, but most I've watched continue their ways, unmended, riding on a roller coaster of tears, only to call me when things bottom out again.
Now their cries are a deafening howl, like the sound of a million tormented souls crying out in pain. it echoes in my head, it rattles in my heart and it keeps me awake most nights of the week. Combined with the faces of those that turned me away and broke my heart, it's almost too much to bear. All I ever offered was a helping hand, all that I ever received was punishment.
So perhaps it is true that no good deed goes unpunished. That in my attempt to help my fellow man and bring some good to this venomous world, that I too have made myself a jaded, cynical and bitter man who's losing his compassion, like water through cupped hands, one drop at a time.
So yes, I was born with a curse, the curse of compassion and understanding. Though a pragmatist to the end, I've never been enough of one to save myself and that alone dooms me to be bound by the folly of my fellow man, not because I can't see through it, but because I can't stop caring about it.
In the end, it was my heart, not my mind, that was my weakness.