Monday, April 26, 2010

The Hardest Part

Alcohol, marijuana, prescriptions.  No better than "hard" drugs, these crutches can't support people's every ill.  The users who try turn into abusers. They all fall just as hard.

You can tell when he's under the influence.  His eyes shine from liquor.  They crack red from smoke.  They water uncontrollably, unnoticed by him, as he sniffles.  When you tell him so he gets testy and defensive, argues himself in circles. 

"Crackhead logic," a friend joked.  Thank God it's not.  But legally and socially legit drugs are just as debilitating.

You know when it's habitual.  He thins out.  His face dries, pales, and pulls at his cheekbones.  The skin under his eyes swell red at first, then fall flat and dark.  His underlids look like charred chimneys, bruised like a boxer's. If he'd learn to fight his demons instead of run, he'd never feel so cornered in the first place.  Of course his habits put him in a place where he never has to.

It's drama when he'll do anything for it.  He can't leave bed to find work or school, but will walk a mile in the rain to find a store or his "friend."  He never stays employed for too long. A good job usually is the beginning of his downfall.  Fat pockets, spare change, or last dimes always go to self-medication. He'll risk the roof over his head for the stuff.  Who knows where he'll be next week.

No matter where he ends up, he'll do anything to legitimize his position.  He's defiant until desperation forces him to fess up.  He finds just enough support to step on, hopping from talking head to talking head until he can reclaim his high.  Then the responsibility, the blame, is someone else's again.

Not that he listens when you tell him. He's too depressed and moody to do anything but drown in himself. The "meds" make him feel above worldly concerns.  In reality he sinks deeper, farther, faster. He spirals down. It's dark down there.  Every so often, the friend I knew completely disappears. Sometimes I fear I'll lose him forever.
It's hard because you know getting him back at all means letting go for now.  Pulling him out makes it too easy.  He expects it, never bothers to learn or hold himself accountable.  He might even suck you in with him, just to place the blame elsewhere. 

So you learn. 

You stand by and give direction.  You walk away to attend to your priorities or avoid abuse.  You give brief support when there is no other option. 

You know he'll recognize the exit when he lets himself.  He came from a place that gave him everything he needed before all this happened.  All the faculties are there.  He'll make it.

Or he'll take the long way. 

He'll bite every hand and burn every bridge until there's no one left to put him in his place.  When it's him alone he'll have a choice: succumb into oblivion or pull himself up.  

You hope he finds the courage to do what's best for him.  But you can't do it for him. 

That, my friends, is the hardest part.