It's an old expression and the first time I heard it I didn't think much of it or know what it meant. Not until I tried getting water from a stone over and over enough in my life did I finally understand its meaning. When a person's fuel tank is so low that they couldn't afford to give me any love, attention, support or positive energy of any kind did I finally receive the final blow of heartache, cut my losses and let go forced to accept that any more attempts at reconciliation would only cause me more pain. Not right or wrong, compassion, pity or even reason can be petitioned when a person has nothing to give. My repeated mistake was to take it personally believing that if they truly cared about me, if I tried hard enough, if they meant all the things they had said to me, they wouldn't turn their back on me, but their behavior had nothing to do with me. Happy people, people who have succeeded in keeping their tank fuller than 50%, don't turn their backs on others. They bestow humanity on others because they can afford to. They are not afraid to engage in efforts of resolution because they can afford to "lose", i.e. give. It won't bring them down. To them, it's not losing at all. It's giving and happy people enjoy giving. It's one of the joys of life. When two happy people exchange energy regardless of the direction, both win. This is simply more of Mother Nature's design. This is why those who appear to be happy and normal, but secretly aren't are the people who are the most dangerous to fall into association with.
My mistake was continuing to invest energy into a resolution or relationship with an unhappy person. This type of investment cannot be reciprocated because the other person, or party, has nothing to give. I'd keep giving because I had more than 50% and could afford to, but they were too far below happy to participate in any form of mutual exchange. Even if one person gives more than 50% if the other person doesn't know how to be happy, both will eventually becomed drained. One will retreat to their smaller world of control where they won't be threatened by the truth. The other will return to the real world and eventually replenish themselves. Sometimes reason can prevail when there are more than two parties involved and a third objective party can enforce morality, legality or common decency. For example, I bought a truck from a dishonest man and regrettably had to take him to court. He had lied about the mileage and said that it had a new transmission. It didn't. He was forced to pay $1,500, a lot of money for a poor farmhand like me, which I'd already spent repairing the truck. Had a third party not made him, he definitely would not have done the right thing. He definitely had the money, more than I did, but he didn't have decency because money isn't real. Decency is. Any asshole can make a lot of money. Only good, happy people do the right thing because this is a true value. But, there are no laws regarding human decency in this artificial world. It is not illegal to lie or betray a person's trust. In fact, in many ways, it's a good way to get rich.
In a similar situation, I drove to New Hampshire when I lived in Maine to look at a truck I was interested in. Being by myself, when I decided to buy the truck the man selling it offered to let me borrow his car dolly to tow it back to the farm I was living on rather than have to make another trip back. After spending the night and going to church with his family the next morning, I headed home with my "new" truck in tow. After working on it for a few days, I realized that it was going to cost me a lot more money to fix than I was in a position to spend so I sold it for half of what I bought it for fully disclosing what was wrong with it. I was at work when the previous owner's son, who occasionally traveled to Maine for work, came by a week or so later to pick up the car dolly, he must have noticed the truck parked down the end of the dirt driveway of the farm with a "For Sale" sign on it (and the price) because I never said a word to either of them. They were good people and very upfront about what the truck needed when I bought it. They just hadn't realized how much it was going to cost. Regardless, a week later, I got a check in the mail for the difference of what I sold it for. This is how good people roll.
It's tempting to judge those who betray our trust or who are nowhere to be found when the going gets tough, but this is a fruitless endeavor. It's a form of our own justified unhappiness. People still need to be held accountable, but before learning that "you can't get water from a stone", the anger I would feel towards these types of people stemmed from my own knowledge that deep down inside I knew better than to put myself in a position where they could hurt me. Our instincts will tell us this before it happens if we stop and listen to them. Letting go of our willingness to invest in a relationship or situation that is not healthy or balanced is sometimes a very hard thing to do, possibly the hardest. It's easier when the person is a stranger or the situation is a new one, but when we have a deep or long history with the person or situation, our blind spots, caused by whatever is still left on our table, prevent us from seeing that we can never improve our happiness if we continue to give to a relationship which is not capable, or willing, to give back. Sometimes it's even our love that prevents us from seeing this and only makes us hang on stronger. Taking it personal only sucks us into it deeper. When we don't have a group, family or village to remind us of what a healthy relationship feels like, it is very hard for us to even see the true dynamic of the situation. You wouldn't keep paying at the pump if no gas came out. There are no quick fixes when you've given too much to a situation that's not giving you anything back other than to cut your losses and find one that will. You'll be surprised by how good it feels to finally have your efforts be put to good use.