I was a witness as a friend tore into a relapse last night. I suspected this was happening–it’s happened before–but he told me only a few weeks ago that all was well. This was obviously, and publicly, a lie. There couldn’t be a better defined example of powerlessness than standing by while someone you care about suffers, knowing there’s absolutely nothing you can say or do that will get through to that person in that moment, or maybe ever. I was sad and angry and scared and helpless all at once–maybe the same cluster of feelings were going on in him, who knows?
I walked away and went home, having decided to not be part of the drama this time. Other choices, perhaps more courageous or more selfless ones, might have been to let his family know he was in bad shape, or to have driven him to a safe place. But I was afraid of his aggressiveness and of the part of me that’s just like him, and so I just had to get out of there.
And then came a night of remorseful dreams and a dark start to today…which I was able to deflect by writing and counting my blessings–my usual way out of morning gloom. He and I came into a rehab program together one day apart, 14 or so months ago. Almost immediately, he was able to see into me and was key in getting me to get honest with myself, and I’ll always love him and be grateful to him for that. I wish it had been mutual. I’ve reached out to him in words and actions but he’s on his own path and it’s painfully clear that right now, nothing and nobody is getting through.
After our last clash, three months ago now, which was also driven by a relapse, I decided to let him go as a friend and as a fellow traveler in recovery. But that turned out to be not so easy last night, when I could look into his eyes–this man I’ve shared so much with–and could see his face and could put my arms around him in a familiar once-meant-something hug.
I’m not proud that I recoiled. I wish I had a sense of what is or what would have been the right thing to do. I don’t have any answers today.