Lost another to top off (and hopefully end) a stressful last couple of weeks. I lost a few guys in the house who were new to sobriety in a not so tasteful fashion a little over a week apart. One gentlemen I had suspected of drinking almost immediately upon entering the house, and it turned out that after 2 weeks as a resident, a random screening pointed true north to my suspicions. I think it goes without saying that among we addicts, that there is usually an avalanche of guilt and shame that begins to bury us once we’re found out. It sometimes can take many forms and the situations can play out in a myriad of ways as the mind can evolve as the situation does. It is not possible to know how a situation will play out once someone has relapsed because the mind takes each person down a path that is particular to their own personality and can be dictated by the state of their emotional health. In this case, the gentleman started making threats against his life and subsequently left in an ambulance on his way to a hospital to be evaluated by a mental health professional. He seemed to be, and I have no reason doubt, as fine a specimen as any man with a moral code, values, and goals for himself. And he, like most, will go unknowingly into a future of which my ears will hear nothing more.
This last weekend a younger kid, who I assume has also never tried to get sober before entering the house, relapsed in a fashion I wish never to experience again; although, I believe that this current path as house manager will eventually not allow that wish to be granted. Some are buried by the avalanche, and some ride the heavy burden all the way to the bottom. He left in hand cuffs. It doesn’t really matter how, or what transpired; it is a heavy sigh that expels the distaste for what the disease of addiction will do to some people, myself included. As a resident who was obviously distraught by the wretched drama being played out before him said to me “we identify, we don’t compare”.
I identify, and I compare. I identify with his struggles, I identify with his situation, I identify with the torments of addiction, I identify with his using, his outlandish behavior, his blacking out, his addict everything. I compare my sober self to his drunkenness and thank God that I have some how maintained a sober lifestyle, knowing that at anytime, I could easily trade places with him. I identify him as me, as I was, and compare him now to who I once was. Have I made a mistake? Am I supposed to see him as something different other than the addict that we all are in this house? Whatever lessons I have yet to learn, I am walking a path that I hope is of my choosing, and in choosing, I accept what is and what is not, what has yet to come, and what is already at my doorstep.
Tonight is topped off by losing a long-term resident, and a situation that I feel there is much to learn and gain from. My mood is somber. This is not a victory, and I feel like ensuring the integrity of this house should be. My reservations are one of proof and doubt. I’d love to use a cliche line here, something like “the proof is in the pudding” but I have serious doubts about what my gut tells me. As a long-term resident of this house myself, you begin to pick up on certain red flags that we addicts wave in the air as signals to our pending or already carried out relapses. I will be the first o admit that I am no professional, nor are the signs as obvious to me as they are to some. Moreover, reading between the lines of what are red flags and what is just sheer happenstance can be tricky. However, I’ve written down lists of events just as one would write a list of pros and cons and from there I weigh the results of the situation. In this case, I had no proof, but I let the incessant red flags guide me to a decision that left this guy without a place to lay his head in this establishment.
I have lost sleep on this, I’ve let it consume me for the better part of a week; and yet, even though the decision has been carried out, I still have my reservations about whether or not I did the right thing for the house. Ultimately, I believe I did. But my biggest defect of character in a management position will forever be my ability to keep my own emotions off the table. Was I able this time? Honestly, no. But, I do believe I made the decision to remove him based on the facts, not on how I felt. It’s a struggle for me, and writing out lists and contemplating what is in the best interest of the the house is the only way I can guide myself to the right answer. I should’ve asked God for help. I didn’t. I wonder if that would have made a difference… A difference in my compassion, or a difference in my understanding? On the contrary, I feel as if I was entirely too lenient from the beginning, and was perhaps too understanding from the get go and should have better asserted myself and the position the house contract we all sign takes on such matters.
I am not perfect, and far less perfect a leader or manager. But at the end of the day, while it was a tough decision to make; I would make the same decision again tomorrow. The door that was swung open in my direction was my choice to walk through, and I’m glad for it; happy that I made the decision I did to become the house manager. I know that I will not do what others would do or want me to do, I know that my stance on things will not always be shared by all, I know that I will be learning a different side of management that I have not had the chance to experiencing in such a way as with my participation as manager in this house. I have faith that God laid out this path for me so that I might gain something of value from it. I have faith that I will do what is in the best interest of this house and not in the best interest of myself. I have faith that God placed me as a leader in front of these guys to give them something that I cannot foresee, and perhaps it’s not of my choosing. I can only pray that while I can be an asshole, and I am stubborn, and in many situations I see things only in black and white, that God will show me the colorful areas in-between that will light up my life and the lives of others. That is my prayer. That is my wish.