I checked the caller ID as I grabbed the call. It was them, and I was relieved, as it had been a bit since I'd heard from them.
Me: Hey, how's it going?
Them: Not... not so great.
Me: Uh oh ... I don't like the sound of that.
Them: Yeah well... the other weekend...
Their story of the other weekend could be likened to a truck with no brakes hurtling down a hill. A little beer and pot became... which became... which became...
Me: So... you shot up?
I sounded calm, but in my head it was more like "OH MY GOD YOU SHOT UP?!?" Not that I'm any stranger to stories which include that act, but no matter how many times I've seen it, the deathward momentum of the inevitable progression of addiction can still startle and frighten me.
Me: I don't remember well from your story, is that very old behavior for you or very new?
Them: Kind of both.
I let figuring that answer out go for the moment.
Me: So... what can we do?
Me: You don't have to do any of this alone -- you know that. There are rooms full of people -- sincere, loving, flawed, messy, often irritating people...
They laughed, which was what I was going for with that.
Me: ... who will do everything they know how to do to help you get sober. And I will too.
They were quiet for a couple of minutes.
Them: Thank you. I ... I still have some pot at home and ... and beer ... I'm ... I'm going to finish that off and then I'm going to come back.
I took a long, slow breath.
Me: Do me a favor right now.
Them: What? Are you going to tell me to throw it all away?
Me: No. Just do me a favor. Hold the phone far away from your ear for a moment.
Me: Just do it.
I waited a moment for them to hold the phone away.
Me (bellowing into the phone): CAN YOU HEAR HOW FUCKING INSANE THAT IS?
Another moment goes by.
Them: Yeah.. but ...
Me: Sorry, sorry I just ... It's just like I feel like I don't know how to help you right now, what to say to...
Them: Look, talking helps, but I've got to be honest with you. I'm just going to finish this off and then I'm really... I know how it sounds but I'm not willing to...
Me: Okay. Okay... I do understand ... but also... okay. I am not judging you, but I have to be honest with you too -- that is a terrible plan and that thinking is rife with denial and alcoholism and I wish you would let me come over right now and we can dump it then you can come back with me and crash on my couch till you go to work tomorrow.
Them: I get it ... I know... thank you ... but ... no. I just...
I'm not proud of this next part.
Me: Okay. Okay. Then let me just ask you one quick question.
Them: Okay, shoot.
Me: At the service, who do you want to give your eulogy?
Them: Oh fuck you!
They hung up.
Yeah, I snapped. And I kind of blew it. I let my frustration with addiction become frustration with the addict. God works through our character defects as well as our assets, that is, through my frustration as well as my patience, but I don't feel good about how I handled that. We have enough history that I believe we'll get past that sour moment, but it was not my best, that's for sure.
I know, I know, I KNOW ... it's not up to me anyway, it's in God's hands. But please understand it's the frustration talking when I say that some nights it feels like God's not taking those calls -- it's my phone that rings. And I know there's some ego involved when I think that if only I can come up with the "right" words I might find a way to get through to someone. It's not all ego, there is a sincere desire to help, but when my frustration gets the better of me I need to look and see what's out of balance at my end. As it says in the 7th Step in the 12&12, just because we know we can't ever achieve perfection doesn't mean we don't try like hell to move in that direction -- that is, even when I do okay I can look to see how I can do better. And when I don't do okay, well then, I'd better look even harder.
Detach with love. Carry the message not the mess. Love and tolerance is our code.
Some nights I fly.
Some nights I trudge.
Each night, I pray -- and then I try to do better.