Tonight one of my guys Mike showed up on my porch. His girlfriend locked him out a week ago, and its been a rough week. He said he wanted to talk because he was lonely and had no human beings to talk with. He constantly apologized, and I could smell he’d been drinking a bit. He said he wanted to tell me that he wanted to stop drinking. “I’ve tried to make people think I’m not a drunk, but I am. When I come home from work what I want is to go to the alcohol store and drink til I pass out– I work, and I drink.”
He said he appreciated my help the last few years, and said I was one person he could rely on and I’d helped him a lot. However, he said “I think you actually enable us to continue to get our drink on. I know you are trying to help us, giving us work and money, but it enables us to keep drinking.”
It was only tonight that I came to learn that Mike used to be in AA– in fact a leader of AA. But then he fell back into drinking. He said, “I’m smart– I could have made something of myself. And I try to think, why did I turn out like this and you the way you did? I guess it was because we had different parents or something…but I want to be like you. My dream, actually, is to be like you.” What mike wants is to be free of his desire for alcohol, and to be able to be himself, instead of a slave to alcohol.
I brought him to my girlfriends sisters house to sand floors yesterday. Tonight Mike talked about his experience there and said, “Those people were so nice! She and her husband, and your girlfriend. I thought, ‘these are the kind of people I want to associate with– these people are so kind and at peace'”
Mike said to me, “I want to get to a point where I want to do what is right– where I don’t want to drink. I want to drink, but I see that it has ruined my life.” I’ve seen mike come off alcohol before, even with the shakes and all. It is very difficult for him. But it is so easy for him to go back to it. But right now he is so alone that he is desperate to change. He met a guy, Don, when he was raking one of my houses the other day, and Don invited Mike to an AA meeting, and Mike plans to go. Mike said, “Don was really stern with me. He said I have to make my own decision, and stick with it, and that if I plan to come there will be stict expectations. But I am ready for that. Before, I didn’t want to change, because I liked to drink so much. But now I am so lonely, and I see where I am compared to where I once was.” What Mike said he needs is something to keep him busy, so he doesn’t drink. He also said he didn’t know how he was going to get to sleep without alcohol.
I think what mike really needed was for me to listen to him and let him know someone cared. I gave mike 3 tylenol PMs and two movies to watch– he said he’d watched his video the Godfather 20 times and was getting bored with it…When he left, he gave me a big bearhug. He said he hoped we would always be friends.
Its hard for me to know how to help people. Its hard to know what they want, what they need, and what the difference is. I’m not a social worker. I don’t have training in alcohol abuse. I do see that my guys struggle with it a lot, and that alcoholism seems to be a key factor in what makes them unreliable and also alcohol seems to be a root cause of their troubles. Its enough to help me understand why some people are tetotalers– forgoing alcohol absoultely. Its habitual abuse has destroyed lives like Mikes, and its so hard to break.
So I don’t know what else to do except to try to help him by helping distract him through work, helping him take some pride in that work, and maybe giving him some hope so that he won’t fall into the depression that brings on his alcohol abuse. That, and praying for him…one thing I pray is that the desperation that led him to feel the way he did tonight turns into real long term commitment to make substantial changes. If you think of it, pray for mike…