BY: Marc McMahon
A man moved into my apartment complex about 8 months ago. A man who has suffered from the negative effects of an Alcohol Abuse Disorder for half of his life much like my addiction affected me. A man who also like me has spent the last half of his life homeless, living shelter to shelter, moving town to town. As he outstays his welcome in one due to the way he acts while drinking, and moves to the next town in which he always rationalized in his mind as doing simply, to get a fresh start.
Also much like me in my addiction, he always truly believed that was the reason too. Even though there were no plans to change the way he lived just the location, never worked for me, and from talks I had with him in the days and weeks after he moved in, never worked for him either (imagine that.)
For the past two years he has lived here in Oregon he says and he moved here to be closer to his Daughter and her Son, his Grandson. He moved here to really get a fresh start this time though. To quit drinking, get housing, treatment for his Hepatitis C, and be the Father, and Grandfather that he hasn't been in the past.
The Road To Redemption
He quit drinking, moved into the shelter, sought out a case manager, and signed up for a housing program. Just exactly like I did, and exactly like me, the same program that rescued me, blessed him as well. He has been in his own studio apt. for 8 of his 12 month reduced rent stay. When he first moved in all was grand. I met his Daughter and Grandson and from six doors down I watched the three of them reunite, build trust, and mend their broken relationship. Simply because the drink was removed from the equation.
It was a wonderful sight for my eyes to witness. In the first thirty days, the bond between Father and Daughter grew so tight that she began allowing him to walk her kids to and from school each day. Then a short time after that he was allowed to bring them back to his apartment each day after school and play and hang out with his Grandchildren for the next two hours until his Daughters shift at work ended, and she arrived to pick them up. It was such an awesome sight to watch the promises come true in another's life first hand!
When We Self-Destruct
Then I watched it slowly start to begin, again. I watched the monster lie and manipulate this man until it finally had an opportunity to ever so carefully, sneak out of the cage that he had been locked in, for the past few months, a sickening sight to watch.
I watched the can of beer slowly become more important than spending time with the Grandkids. Then one day when his Daughter shows up to pick up the kids he informs her that the kids eat too much of his food and he can no-longer watch them after school, just walk them to and from. That went over really well, as you can imagine.
I watched the daughter step closer to her Dad's face and tell him to blow on her, which he did. Then her tears began to form and in a fit of rage she broke down in tears and cursed her Father right in front of the young kids. Cannot blame her for losing control although it would have been best not to. Dad being the alcoholic that he is, cursed her back and told her if that was how she was going to be to stay the F_ _ k away from him, and she has!
In the month and a half since then, I have watched him go from one 24 oz can of beer a day. To seven of the large Malt Beverages by 1 in the afternoon and passed out face down on his living room floor. Not to mention he is one of those loud, rude, and obnoxious drunks too. A super nice, quiet, and soft-spoken man in sobriety, a gentle giant standing 6'6" 320 lbs.
When We Marry Our Disease
Not so much though when drunk. I have watched the relationship between him and that can of beer become more important than food, and other people. He has lost his temper for no reason at all with all of the people that were his friends and came to visit. And all of us who live here at the apartments who used to be friendly to him.
Right down to the new guy who moved in 3 weeks ago who quickly became his drinking buddy. They don't even talk anymore due to his temper, and you know it is bad when that happens and your totally alcoholic friend can't even stand to be around you! It is such a tragic event to witness, it is like watching myself live in the flesh when I drink, it is totally surreal.
The saddest part of the whole thing now is the fact that he has spent all of his money on alcohol so he is broke for the month. You won't even see him come out of his apartment now because he is sober, but not wanting to be, and completely ashamed, feeling guilty, and embarrassed by the behavior he knows deep down inside is not really him at all.
But as a man, especially a large man like himself who has laid down this tough guy, you can all go to hell, I came into this world alone I'll leave it alone persona. And being a man in the midst of his full-blown addiction, he cannot admit to bad behavior and apologize so he has friends again, no way.
Tragic Is The Final Chapter
That would be conceding that the alcohol was having a negative impact on his life and possibly cause someone to see that he really does have a problem. Gosh, I am six doors down and I know from first-hand experience not so much what that man is sitting in his apartment thinking. But I know exactly how his soul is feeling deep down in the pit of his stomach where our undeniable truth reigns.
I remember a time in my life sadly when I would have been happy that this man was having such a time with his addiction. I mean sure, you see by having him around and out of control while I too am in my addiction and out of control but he is more gone than me. Then he makes my addiction not look quite so bad so he will be my new friend and I'll parade him around with me anytime I need a morale boost. Damn sickening but it happens every single day.
Every single day addicts are fighting for their lives trying to stay sober and escape their circle of using friends. Often times though you will see the the friends of the person who is trying to get sober give them drugs. Just so they make sure they don't get sobriety, fly the coop, and make them look bad.
It is such a twisted mess, and I lived that as my reality for half of my life. Today though God is showing me the error of my ways by having me frustrated at times and deeply saddened from watching my neighbor self-destruct. You know it is a really hard pill to swallow being this involved in recovery and helplessly watching addiction consume the man who dwells, just six doors down.
About the Author: Marc is a 48-year-old Author, Speaker, and Soldier in a war to loosen the grasp that Substance Abuse has on our society. He is a Father, Son, and friend to all those seeking refuge from this incorrigible disease. Marc resides in the beautiful Pacific Northwest where he enjoys, writing, hiking, and kicking the disease of addiction in the teeth, every chance he gets. As Marc always likes to say, “be blessed, my friends!”