A few years ago I received a call from a close friend who spoke to me about his son who was suffering with some pretty hefty addiction problems. He explained (with an angry tone) how he wanted me to visit with his son who was ready to change. Hoping it was true I agreed to meet with him to see the amount of “buy in” he had regarding the treatment process. Since I work as a substance abuse counselor and I was a close family friend it only made sense that I be the one to point them in the right direction. I had no idea what I was getting into.
My first meeting with him was obvious in every aspect. How? He lied and nothing I said seemed to penetrate the glossy residue or the distant melancholy in his eyes. It feels a lot like talking to the elderly in the stages just before they pass. Lost and swimming in a sea of confusion he stated his case and action plan. Unlike the elderly that almost always come to grips with death, my friend was not ready to die. He was dying before me nonetheless, he just didn’t know it. The gray of his eyes glistened as the salty tear held on to the rim of his eye lid and then gave way. The uncontrollable flood of emotion visible and genuine couldn’t be concealed any longer. His upper lip quivered as the face muscles lost hold of control. Nose wrinkled, and gnashing of teeth couldn’t keep the secret from being exposed to the light. Lies turned to truths and the gray leaking eyes wept away the guilt. I sat and I listened to the endless stories of tragedy soaked memories. I couldn’t help but think of his little kids sitting at home wondering where their father had gone. Not just today. Where had he gone many days or months before today? How many times had he fragmented this way?
“I haven’t been able to sleep, I fell asleep for three hours last night, they gave me the highest dose of Trazadone and some other crap and I couldn’t sleep. The first night I was crawling out of my skin! My legs were cramping and my toes would curl and it felt like they were trying to make fists! Runny nose, diarrhea with the sweats and then the chills, like dying, but knowing you’re going to live, wishing for death, I know I’m going to die if I don’t stop. My wife will leave and the kids will grow up without me”.
This after 6 days without heroin, oxycontin or cocaine, I saw blue eyes; flesh toned skin and shaky hands. He wept like a small child being pulled from his mother’s arms as we left him again, this time at the actual treatment center. I felt the tears well up in my eyes as I walked away. It was the most horrible combination of grunts, sobs and saliva spewing exhausts of sorrow. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had never seen this up close. Personal.
Note: I created a painting out of this blog, a way to expel and express it more fully. The title of the painting: Bubbles named after the character featured in the HBO series The Wire.