Alcoholism

downtown from porchTonight 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…

andy g

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7 responses to “Alcoholism

  1. Andy, thanks for this. I will pray for Mike.
    One thing that struck me here, and I can totally relate to it, is Mike’s desire NOT to desire what is sinful/hurtful/etc. It’s one thing to pray to no longer want what is wrong, and a much different thing to pray for strength to avoid what you want but know is wrong. Maybe the desire to sin can be overcome to some degree… but I hope that our avoidance of sin is not completely dependent on that happening.
    Ya know?

  2. simplefreechurch

    Adam– yes! I do think I know what you mean, and I agree. I think he realizes that struggle the apostle Paul talks about: I do that which I don’t want to do!– to not want to do it is one thing, to not do it is quite another. What encourages me in paul’s saying (and Mike’s not wanting) is that its a good step for sure– when someone is doing what they shouldn’t and LOVE doing that which is destroying them– then there is a serious problem. At least not wanting it, or wanting to not want it, is a start. I think it was Augustine who prayed that God help him to WANT to do the right things– that change of the will so that it wants rightly…
    Thanks for praying for mike.

  3. Andy:
    Mike needs to know how to be with his attitude. I suggest you take a look at http://www.saddleback.com and go to the links for Celebrate Recovery. This 20-year-old program is an 8-step, Christ-centered recovery program based on the Beatitudes. I have taught a group in Lincoln for 5 years. The website will show you where the programs are being offered in Omaha. Until we fill that God-sized hole in our hearts with God, we’ll keep trying to fill it with alcohol, drugs, work, clothes, cars, careers, whatever. Praying for Mike and for you. Thanks for sharing.

  4. simplefreechurch

    Thanks recovery guy! I found the locations– most of them are pretty far west of midtown (where we are) but I’ll see what we can do…very good! I didn’t know about these…

  5. I was talking with my mom this evening about what is the right thing for me to do… and Micah 6:8 (“…what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”) came to mind and I think it speaks to your interaction with Mike, too.

    What impressed me was that it says to act justly, which refers to my behavior, not to seeing that others receive their due justice. Then, it says I am to love mercy, which I understand to mean that I desire/admire/embrace mercy for myself and for others.

    Although Mike called it “enabling” tonight, I think that what he sees is someone having mercy on him while most people in his life have given him what he deserves (i.e. his girlfriend locking him out).

    May God have mercy on us all.

  6. I agree with Stephanie. It’s one thing to help some one and another thing to label it as enabling. If we live by the spirit’s leading then from there it is not up to us what some one does with the results of our actions/kindnesses. Meaning, if you help Mike by offering him work, then it is up to Mike what to do w/the money that he earns from the work he provides. In some ways it sounds like Mike is wanting help, and reaching out there for it by telling you and others around him that he wants help, but has yet to take the steps to make it happen by stopping drinking, going to AA or another support group or even detox or seek treatment. Also, at this point it sounds like Mike is not acknowledging how his choices are getting him the same results. We can pray that he is courageous enough to walk forward into recovery with the help and support of friends and family. Recovery is scary, but it is made available to him in many capacities.

    In thinking about Mike I am reminded of my own fragility, as so many times I sin and lack humility, and turn from God until things get so bad, that finally after running from Him for so long, I finally give up my fight and surrender(hopefully). With Mike it’s the same in many ways, only with alcoholism it’s more apparent as so much is outwardly visible.

  7. Andy:
    Give one of the CR group leaders [they should be listed] a call. In many cases they will find somebody to give Mike a ride to and from. I have picked guys up at the People’s City Mission in Lincoln and even at Detox where they have a long-term program. I tell the guys that I sponsor that I will walk BESIDE them through this. Not in front of or behind, but beside them. That’s NOT enabling. That’s doing God’s will and obeying the scriptural notation that two strands are stronger than one. If you fall alone, there is no one to pick you up. It’s not the falling down that hurts, it’s the staying down.

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