Monday, September 26, 2016

Sleep Is A Wonderful Thing

I'm still groggy, about 30 minutes after I actually got out of bed. But I am rested, after a good night's sleep/crashing. I honestly do not know how healthy my sleep patterns are, but I do know I've adjusted to a routine that allows me to live some semblance of a normal life. It makes Sunday the pivot day, one where I am running on fumes for most of the actual day, and one where once I lay down on Sunday night, it's over until the morning.
I set my alarm for 6 AM on the days off I have, but I don't always get up. Today was one of those days; I was no more capable of getting up at 6 AM than I would have been of running a marathon at 10 PM last night. I dragged myself up at 7:50 because I had to call the state health insurance exchange today, and if you don't do that right at 8 AM, you will spend a good portion of your day on hold. But that task is now and done over with, and I am going to make do with the nearly nine hours of crash time I had last night.
The main thing that worries me about what has become normal practice is that the world could come to an end after midnight, and I would absolutely not be aware of it. I am out between 10 or 10:30 PM and 6 AM every Sunday/Monday. This is not unusual for a teenager, but for someone in his fifties, it is; older people tend to sleep lightly, and to need less sleep than younger people. And I've never been one that needed a lot of sleep anyway; the only times I have ever slept deeply for more than a few hours in my past where when I drank heavily or had been up a run for several days beforehand. So this is something new for me.
I've always been blessed with an ability to sleep. The only issue I've ever had was that I am caffeine sensitive; I try not to drink caffeinated drinks after 6 PM if I intend on sleeping before 2 AM, which means if you see me with a coffee at an evening meeting, I am working that night. But even in times of intense stress and worry, I do not have issues falling asleep. The manifestation of the stress I am feeling comes when I wake up after two or three hours and can't get back to sleep. It's actually turned out to be a benefit; working nights, I can function half the week after sleeping for two to three hours after getting home from work. I couldn't do it for seven days, but I can do it for three.
And my older-than-I-want-to-be self does not handle long periods of sleep well, paradoxically. I feel very stiff and sore this morning. It's getting better the longer I am up, and one good thing about being somewhat physically active the past few months has been that my body doesn't get wiped out  by something as mundane as playing softball for an hour like it did in early August. But my body is never going to be in the shape it was thirty years ago again, and my back gets stiff and my right side gets sore from laying on it for hours and my neck doesn't like it when my head is angled in a certain position on the pillows. As problems go, they are small, but they are also real.
But the good thing is that I can function as a normal human being for the next three days, going to sleep at night and being active all day. I suppose it is worth the cryogenic freeze of being dead to the world one night a week. And hopefully it will change soon; I finally interviewed for the position in the other program I applied for weeks ago last week. I've learned that one can never tell, but the general vibe and impression I got from the interview was pretty good. We will see what happens.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

White-Knucking Sanity in a Crazy Time

There is almost no way to describe the last 24 hours. Virtually every societal problem that we have been dealing with in this area, already declining like Gomorrah when the fires started, reared its ugly head at some point today. I half-expect that if I open the curtains by my desk here at work, I will see Mad Max and the rest of the freaks from the first Road Warrior movies screaming down Main Street. And while I am personally managing to stay afloat in a world where the waves are only getting rougher, there is only so long one can hold out in such choppy waters. As my current sponsor is fond of saying, "This, too, shall pass". But the knowledge that hurricanes and blizzards don't last forever is small comfort in the middle of them, and doesn't make the danger any less if one is exposed to it while it is raging.
I guess we can start with what has become the distressing norm around here. There were at least four more opiate overdose deaths this week, and at least two close calls in which Narcan had to be administered. Those are the ones I know about; there may well be more to report. This brings the overdose death toll to at least 65 in this county this year, and the increasingly widespread use of Narcan has saved, in all probability, at least twice that many people from dying, too. The numbers are absolutely staggering, with the rate of mortality increasing as time passes; it has become clear that unusally potent heroin, cut with fentanyl and/or large animal sedatives, has been inundating the area since early June. We are probably going to reach 100 deaths this year, which for a county with less than two hundred thousand people, is an insanely high number. If there is a positive to this, it is that the county executive's race could easily be decided by it; even the most obtuse redneck residing in the more primitive areas of back woods between Whitney Point and Harpursville is aware of how bad the problem is, and that the current county executive, however her campaign ads try to spin the matter, was saying as recently as the end of July that the true number of deaths from overdose was barely in double digits. Anyone wanting the problem to be addressed knows, whatever their politics on other issues, that Preston must go.
An adjunct to the rising death rate of overdoses has been a perception that violent crime is rising in the area. And at least in recent months, it certainly has. Today's news cycle was dominated by a shooting in a suburb of Endicott, and then an armed standoff in a house in that suburb (a neighborhood I remember well; a girl I was very hot for in the ninth grade lived on the same block, and I spent a few nights at the home of guy friends I had made that lived in that development). I believe that the standoff is over now, but one telling aspect of the areas's decline is that our local media, television and print both, are run with skeletal staffs and news that happens on the weekend barely gets covered. What little I know of the situation, I learned from my friends' posts on Facebook ( a function I performed for many of my friends a couple of weeks ago when a murder took place in Binghamton on one of my days off). I don't know how many shootings this makes for the year, but it sure seems like there are two or three a month now. It used to be a bad year when there were more than a couple.
As most of you that read this blog know by now, I am a recovering drug addict with nearly 18 years clean. One of the reason I have gotten the amount of clean time that I have is that I have taken seriously that those that have found recovery are obligated to give back to the fellowship that made it possible to recover, by carrying a message in institutions where people cannot freely attend meetings on their own. I was asked a few weeks ago by one of my close friends to share at the crisis center tonight. Earlier in the week, when Somebody was admitted to the crisis center, we had agreed that if she was still there today, he would share and I would run the meeting... As it turned out, she was not there (more on that in a bit), so I spoke. And the place was full; I knew many of them from previous tries at recovery. It is the one business that is booming around here. I shared much of what I experienced in the first year of recovery and some of what has come afterward, and I know I made an impression, a good one.
But the fact is, most of those people in there are not going to hear it and magically be transformed into the vanguard of the next decade's message carriers. The stresses and problems of everyday life, and more particularly of these lives, have proved overwhelming in the past. And now, with the added burdens of history of failure to stay clean and fear of consequences added to the mix,... well, of the 15 or so people there, maybe two will be clean a year from now. That's the nature of the beast. I already knew this, and it doesn't really bother me like it used to. Except that in today's climate, with the patterns of drug use that are prevalent, the odds that one or two of those people in there tonight are going to be dead this time next year are just as high. And that does bother and depress me, a great deal.
Because part of my experience was that I was addicted to the deadliest drug out there at the time I was in active addiction. I could not imagine that anything could be worse than crack addiction. One of the very few things I remember from rehab was a doctor saying that there were old drunks, old heroin users, old pot smokers, old acid droppers, even old angel dust users--but there were no old crackheads, because of the toll the drug and its usage patterns inflicted. You either got locked up,. died, or reached a true bottom relatively quickly. And that was my experience; as horrid as my addiction got at the end, I actually only smoked crack for less than two years. And in that time, I had suffered enough so that I was done. Once it was put down for me, I never picked it up again, mainly because I was intensely aware that only death and despair lay down the road of a relapse. Every other person I know that has stayed clean without relapsing for a long period of time--there are not many of us, but there are a few--shared my drug of choice.
And one of the things I find puzzling about today's heroin epidemic is that the suffering quotient of users seems to be much greater than it was when I was using. Granted, today's using population is quite a bit younger than the addict population of my day, and for a long time I missed the obvious reason why this was. One of the things that made active addiction so devastating to me was that I lost a lot--but that meant that I had, in my mid-30's, accumulated a lot to lose. It was true for a long time that the average age when people got clean to stay was around 35--because you had lost enough for the pain to be excruciating, but it was possible still to come back from it, and usually the physical baggage wasn't so great as to materially affect the quality of life.
But it didn't dawn on me until recently that one reason that the heroin epidemic has hit the young so hard is that the young have very little to lose. When I was in high school and college, a bright future for those that were willing to work toward it was still possible, even likely. That is largely absent in today's world--even the brilliant and the motivated have poor-to-shitty prospects for affluence and meaningful vocations as adults.
And if there is something that defines the using addict, it is a sense of hopelessness and despair that blankets the mind and spirit like smog. I now firmly believe that the reason the young are becoming addicted today is that there is no real reason not to get high early and often in their lives, because there is no real reason to be hopeful about the future. If life is dreary and devoid of hope from the time you really become aware of the larger world, starting about the fifth grade, then why not get fucked up? And why not go to the top of the drug food chain quickly? This is the dirty little secret of the battle to gain increased services for addicts--it's not going to make a difference in the long run if we as a society don't give the young a better opportunity to make a honest living and to find fulfillment as young adults. In our area, Preston's refusal to acknowledge the scope of the addiction problem is infuriating--but the bigger reason she needs to be removed from office is that she is clueless about economic recovery strategy. She has nothing to offer but two proven loser strategies--tax breaks and privatization. These ideas are two key elements of trickle-down economics, and trickle-down economics is what has been the ruination of America as a nation for 35 years. Anything would be better than four more minutes, much less years, of a failed mindset.
But for some of the  young, any possible improvement is going to come too late. Some are too dead, obviously. But the plight of Somebody, which has occupied so much of my mind in the last two weeks, is, among other things, an outstanding example of what I was just describing. Somebody has some virtues--she is somewhat book smart when she wants to be, has good if passive social skills, and in practical skill building at least doesn't have to be shown things twice. In another era, she would have been the perfect Zipperhead--what our generation called the thousands of IBM employees that populated this area in the 1970's. But in today's world--that option is not open to her. Her skill sets would have garnered a decent livelihood circa 1976, but forty years later, she will earn no more than ten dollars a hour, and that is not enough to live on. And I am dealing with a similar situation at work; one of our youth is AWOL, and the root of his problems are an addiction he can't shake--and the root of the addiction is that he really doesn't have a future, and he's smart enough to realize it. The root of Somebody's inability to keep from going back to her drugs of choice is that ultimately, the threat of incarceration is not enough incentive to stay clean.
Intellectually, she knows that she needs to stop, once she gets started. But emotionally and spiritually, the pain of withdrawal is the physical manifestation of the internal, psychological pain she has carried around since childhood, with no relief forthcoming anywhere (largely because she cannot cut the cord with the family member that has caused a great deal of it and isn't about to change. But I digress, and am allowing my simmering dislike, bordering on hatred, for Somebody's mother and her callous and cruel parenting technique, to bubble up to the surface).
There is no hope, you see, for any real improvement. Not with a record, not with the baggage she carries, not with a limited education. So what appeal does struggling for years for paltry wages (and being considered unfit to care for her child while doing so) hold for her? Not much. That is why, as painful as it has been for me to see this tragedy unfold, as much as I would love for her to feel otherwise, as much as I hate the degradation she is putting herself through--I understand why it is happening. And when you add in the fact that heroin fundamentally alters physiology in the brain to make it difficult or impossible to feely truly good without heroin in the body--of course people are going to use again. Repeatedly. And the consequences that I find so daunting and scary? She's been to prison twice, spent much of the last three years behind bars, and she survived. Granted, it's going to be somewhat different if she goes again, because the level of support she was getting during previous bids won't be there. But it doesn't scare her like I would you and I.
And the possibility of dying from hitting, from feeling the body shut down in an overdose? To someone with a life full of meaning and purpose, that would be insane. To someone whose life has been mostly painful up to this point and who has no real reason to look forward to the future--well, the possibility of life ending doesn't look quite as awful a prospect.
And unless something truly miraculous happens, the two possible outcomes now are jail and death. Obviously, I and everyone that cares for her--more than she thinks, but she's so far into the black hole that she doesn't believe it--are hoping for the former. I suspect, in her heart of hearts, she does, too--but I would bet a year of my life that the second possibility isn't filling her with dread right now. Her existence has been painful for virtually her entire life. It would be heartbreaking if it happened, and I don't think that she wants it to, but if it should--well, the war that she has fought and that has been one debacle after another would be over. And there's a part of her that wants that.
And she is not the only one that feels this way, not by a long shot. I don't think anyone is trying to get  high to commit suicide--but it's an acceptable risk for almost all of those that use heroin. And that is our real challenge in the years ahead--to make not getting high, not getting addicted, attractive enough so that people want to stop using. As it stands now, we're not even close to getting to that point, and that is why the epidemic is going to continue unabated even if 700 detox beds with Suboxone scripts waiting in them suddenly became magically available tomorrow.
And this is the dynamic, all you flag-waving nitwits, behind the anthem protests, too. To be blunt, respect is earned, not given, and as if any more evidence was needed to legitimize the grievances of minorities with the prevailing white culture, two more unarmed black people were killed by police officers in the country this week. The apologists are out, of course, but it seems like the response is growing less shrill, and definitely less widespread. Even people who aren't normally all that thoughtful know that there is something wrong with race relations in the country. And it is being proven again by the slant of the media in covering it, and, in a development that gives me apoplexy every time I read of it, the false equivalency narratives popping up in social and other media. Every time something like this happens, within a day or two, someone has cherry-picked a heinous black-on-white crime from somewhere in the country, and then piously asking, "Where's the outrage? Why doesn't this move blacks to cry for justice for white people?"
Well, listen carefully, dolts, because I'm only going to say this once. The difference between an 83YO white grandma being set on fire and killed by black thugs and an unarmed black man being shot by police officers while his hands were in the air during a traffic stop should be blindingly obvious. One was committed by criminals, you moronic yobs, and one was committed by police officers. And the entire point of the Black Lives Matter movement is that there is a disportionate number of black people that die at the hands of (white) authority for crimes that did not warrant a violent response at all. Words cannot describe how much I HATE seeing the false  equivalency argument advanced. It disgusts me to see what lengths many will go to justify their own racism and to make excuses for those engaging in it.
Anyhow, I needed some positivity during all this, and I got it at an NA event today. And really, that's the only answer I have seen to many of the aspects of these problems. For an addict, there is no substitute for a 12-Step program. For non-addicts, practically, much of the !2-Step program can be found in the gospels, in listening to the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes and other utterances that have survived the ages. It makes life bearable--not wonderful and not all by itself, but it keeps the addict from returning to addiction. This post has gone on long enough, and if I have time later in the week, I will give my thoughts on the new direction a new Activities and Events Subcommitte is embarking on. I have to say. though, that today was just what I needed, in the midst of so many stresses and setbacks and soft feelings. And at least I have that option; many of these poor people out there don't.
And just for today, the plethora of messages and the company of a lot of my fellow addicts was enough to get me through the ugly reality that was today. And that I can understand the despair and anger and hurt of many of those dying and suffering from addiction--without having to experience it on that level again.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Perturbed

Today wasn't the worst day I've had recently. But there were several minor things that didn't go the way I wanted them to go, and as a result I've been just on the edge of edginess all day.
The first was getting phone calls and texts when I was sleeping. In some cases, it's unavoidable; most people, after all, are awake during the day, not semi-nocturnal as I am during the work week. But I do feel like that most of my acquaintances ought to know better than to call me at 11 AM during my work week. For those who don't or that can't remember--I go to bed when I get home, usually around 9, and I prefer to get up sometime between 1 and 2. I couldn't do it five or six days a week, but I can do it for three, and that's essentially my work week (Thursday, Friday, Saturday; I'm tired Sunday, too, but since I don't have to work again until Wednesday night, I generally don't try to sleep on Sundays until night time).
It wasn't her fault, but Sabrina is now sick, too. We wasted an hour at the walk-in on Robinson Street and never even got seen. She's home now, hopefully sleeping, with a low-grade fever and congestion. We'll see how she feels when I get home... But in the matter of walk-in's, the UHS one by Union-Endicott High School is by far the best in the area. I've not liked Lourdes Hospital since my mother almost died there from an antibiotic-resistant bug she caught while convalescing after surgery, and their walk-in's aren't great either. This experience just reinforced it.
Then when I went to the meeting tonight, we were assailed by one of our members that has gone off his psych meds. This was the second loud, profane rant he's treated us to this week, and if there is a third, I'm going to speak up. The rooms are full of women that are domestic violence victims, there are often children there, and a lot of the men that attend don't really need to feel intimidated, either. I understand that sometimes people vent. But at every meeting you go to, for ten minutes at a time, and threatening violence and bragging about your jail time? Not cool. Go shout at your neighbors or your dog; that's not what meeting are for.
And in general, I'm just kind of blah space. It's mid-work week; there was a ton of crap that happened in my personal life this week that I have accepted but don't necessarily like; the heroin epidemic continues to rage--another two people died last night, bringing the known total in the county to 64 for the year. And the current county executive launched a bunch of negative campaign ads. A whole bunch of people commented on one that was on Facebook that panned the executive; the remarks were all deleted. It means, to me, that it's going to be an ugly six week until the election.
But we're going to win. Preston must go.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Not Done

I tried. I really did. Harder than I ever tried before in my life, for anyone. For someone that never gives second chances, I gave three chances on a romantic level, and several more on a friend/mentor/whatever level. But there is a point where surrender is necessary, where one realizes that what was once viewed as hope was simply denial. And I have reached that point, perhaps permanently, with Somebody I Used To Know.
Despite her admission into the crisis center earlier this week, it has become abundantly clear that whatever else she may or may not be, she is not done. And for recovery from active drug addiction to take place in anyone, one has to be done. Being done does not prevent future relapse, but it does open the door for present recovery, to get better, to start the process. Being done is exhibiting small but real behavior changes. Being done means becoming more, not less, honest, and less, not more, manipulative with the system and with others in your life.
She is not done. And as the week has passed, I became increasingly doubtful that the commitments I had made--to pack her apartment and store her belongings until long-term treatment is completed--were wise to keep. She is not going to even get to long-term treatment; if her final series of text messages this afternoon were not more obfuscation and dishonesty, she is not even in the crisis center anymore. Because she is not done.
The reasons are many and varied, why she is not done. But ultimately, they are unimportant as far as they relate to me. I will not be chained to this sort of life and lifestyle; I am not going to be left holding the bag, whenever the whistle blows. I am not going to deal with the toxic members of her family for any reason, ever again. I returned everything she owns to either her or to her apartment, including the keys to it. And unless and until she shows some signs of being done, I really cannot conceive of having anything more to do with her.
The bedrock principle of recovery is honesty. It comes before all else, and one reason why is that while people in early recovery aren't capable of a whole lot, all of us theoretically are capable of honesty. It is something that someone with days or even hours clean can do, in whatever setting, in the presence of those with much clean time. One of the few pieces of literature from the other fellowship that made an impression on me was the famous passage about "those incapable of being honest... there are such unfortunates." And Somebody I Used to Know is one of them, at this point in her life. Maybe she was all along, and she did a better job hiding it from me; or perhaps this is part of the progression of her disease of addiction and it is taking a signal turn for the worse.
Regardless, the fact is that I no longer believe anything she says about her motivations, about her feelings, about her. She is McHaling me nearly every time she opens her mouth; she is almost as bad as the archetype of the word. And this is dangerous to me, both emotionally and materially, and I need to detach immediately and all costs until she changes. And that, frankly, may never happen.
Do I feel good about it? No, I don't. But I do feel relief, and I felt it as soon as her apartment door closed behind me. The sad thing is that a number of people were willing to help in a number of ways, and it ultimately did not matter to her. She is not done. She is still in thrall and in slavery to her addiction. She is determined to fight alongside, not against, her disease, even though she is being routed by it at present. And I cannot force her to be in recovery.
She may come back some day. If she is ever done. But until then, I respectfully, even cheerfully, will keep my distance. I may be nearly 18 years removed from active addiction, but I can not only be taken out with this amount of time, but I also can lose my moral  compass and the sense of purpose I usually have in living my life. I only have those things because I am done.
And she is not. Because she is not, all interactions between us are a dead end. There is no real common ground between us anymore.
It hurts some. But it would have hurt a lot more to be a party to her inexorable decline phase. It will take what it takes to make her feel done. Steve is powerless over Somebody, and Steve cannot restore Someboy to sanity.
It's time to cut the cord. Until she is done.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Nothing But Tears

It was a long day, one that for me has not concluded, as I went to work last night. Suffice it to say that I do not like wakes in any event, and the one I went to yesterday may have been the saddest I have ever attended. There are no real words to describe what I felt, and honestly I'm not even going to try. It was my biggest nightmare that has, unfortunately, become someone else's reality. Small as it was, paying respects was important, because it acknowledges the depth of a loss that a parent feels when a child dies young.
And this is one cup I never want to sample. May God bless you and give you the strength to carry on, Claudine, Maykayla, and Dominic. And may God grant Haylee the peace that eluded her in life.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Book Review: THE RISEN

I've mentioned this numerous times before, but I am usually very reluctant to read any novel that is set in late Republican Rome, because Colleen McCullough covered the subject and the era so well in her "Masters of Rome" series that it is almost pointless for anyone else to try to work the same characters and material. I ended up picking up David Anthony Durham's The Risen because he has a decent reputation as a good historical novelist, and because the subject matter, the slave revolt led by Spartacus, was handled in less detail by McCullough than Durham's book-length treatment. And it helps that I have not seen any Spartacus movie, whether the Kirk Douglas classic or the more recent remakes.
This novel is good--not fantastic, maybe not even excellent, but good. Durham differs from McCullough's version in only two significant ways: one, he depicts Spartacus as an actual native of Thrace  (a region in what is now northern Greece), whereas McCullough depicted him as an Italian that was trained to be a Thracian type of gladiator. McCullough made a case that all gladiators of the time were trained to be either Thracian or Gauls; Durham seems to have made use of different source material. The decision materially affects the direction of the novel and plot development, but it actually didn't detract from the narrative at all; if anything, it made for a more interesting story than McCullough's arc within Forutne's Favorites did. Two, Caesar was an integral part of the story, as an aide to Crassus, in McCullough's book, and Caesar is completely absent from this book. McCullough's series of books portrayed Crassus as a complex, reasonably likable (for a Roman aristocrat) man; Durham portrays Crassus as much more of a hard, flinty asshole. Crassus is one of the few Romans of the late Republic that we do not have a wealth of source material regarding, and the odd thing while reading this book was realizing that both depictions were plausible. While McCullough's Crassus lingered in the background of my mind while I was reading this book, I had to admit that the Crassus of this book, while drawn so differently, also fit what we know about him and his actions (from a distance of 2100 years) just as well,
The story itself is familiar to a lot of people, from the movies. The idea that the book emphasizes time and again is that Spartacus led a nation more than an army; Roman society was very much divided into ruled and rulers, and there were more slaves than Romans and Italians in the peninsula by the time of this novel. And the revolt of Spartacus is one of history's great what-if scenarios, and through the eyes of Crassus' scribe-slave, this aspect is poignantly explored. Ultimately, I got lost and bored in some sections of the book, mainly the mysticism that fills the last couple hundred pages through the eyes of one of the female characters. But if there is an overriding virtue to the book, it is the portrayal of just how rotten and precarious life could be as a slave in the ancient world, especially for women.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Keep Swimming

The last couple of weeks have turned into one of the most hectic, emotionally draining times of my life. I have a couple of hours now to myself, and I almost wish I didn't--because a few minutes ago, it all caught up to me and I found myself weeping.
The 13YO sibling of my daugther's best friend did commit suicide, by overdosing on pills. I know a little more than I did yesterday, and I've been reminded of a basic truth: that no service will be of use if the one receiving the service doesn't take advantage of it. That's true of teens as well as adults. The larger point remains true. There should be a systemic approach to youth mental health, and services more readily available for those that cannot afford private counseling and therapy, and that it was a choice of our elected officials in this county to discontinue those services. Those elected officials need to stop being elected, and officials put in their place that have better senses of priorities. This is today's reminder that Preston must go.
The emotional turmoil with the deepest reach took a positive, if gut-wrenching, turn last night. Somebody is now in the crisis center. For all its faults, it is certainly an improvement over being on the streets and actively in addiction. I have few illusions about whether this will turn out to be a long-term turning point--that will ultimately be up to her. There are a few reasons to believe that something is changing--the one that has been asked to tend to her affairs while she is away--she is almost certain to be sent to a long-term facility from here--is not the person that gave birth to her and who is her biggest impediment to positive change, but me. I have the keys to her apartment, I've been asked to pack it up, I was the one that was asked to even take her to the crisis center. We've talked a lot in the last week or so, and I think, paradoxically, with the stresses of being romantically involved removed, she is more dependent than ever on me to be stable and supportive...A position I find difficult. I've been in close contact with several in my own support group while all this has been going on, and one of them told me that the depth of my feeling for her really hasn't changed, despite the fact that we've not been together for months. And I didn't argue the point. I know it's not what it was in the winter, but it's still there, and I'm not going to deny that. It is over on some levels--but it will never be over on others. Right now, I can deal with it. I will deal with whatever emotional cost and baggage come in the future as it happens.
For now, I'm just feeling more relief than anything else. And I've already done a few things that are going to be a change for her and for me. I talked to her sister this morning, the one reasonably healthy family member that lives 1500 miles away (and those two things are not coincidental). Of course, she had no idea of how bad it had gotten... I also have Somebody's phone. It's off, and it's going to stay off. I'm not going to be as invested in time or money in Somebody as in previous times--but I'm not going to let her go without stuff like socks, either. It's more effort than I would choose, in an ideal world, to make, but if not me, who?
I am aware that it is a fuzzy line, in pencil, between helping and enabling. But I also have realized, in a way I never have before, how much it means emotionally to those who are in the absolute depths of despair to have hope, to know that at least one person has not given up on them. She told me last night that when she was in the crisis center recently, one reason it didn't help was that she was emotionally devastated that her and I had had a serious blowout, and that she really felt that I was now permanently out of her life--and it was eating her up. I hadn't heard from her over the weekend, after she went squirrelly Friday afternoon. I had sent her a couple of texts Sunday AM and yesterday, and she told me yesterday she had received them, but hadn't read them--because she thought I was angry with her. The texts were supportive and encouraging, and she read them while she was in my car--and I swear to God, the look of wonder on her face and in her tone of voice as she said, "This isn't bad or mean at all" told me what I needed to know.
Because I've been wondering whether I've been doing the right thing. I've been wondering if I'm just setting myself up to be hurt even more than I already have. I've been wondering if it's the emotional equivalent of "good money after bad." I've been wondering if I've been delusional, whether I actually have a real place in her heart or whether she's just cold and unfeeling and soulless. But in that moment, I saw how lost she is, how starved for love she is and always has been, how little of it she has received, how much self-loathing she has--how low she actually was feeling. I'd love to tell you that it was her Eureka moment, that after three years of being the best man I could be, that who I am and what I feel about her finally penetrated the emotional rubble to her core and that now we can all move forward.
I know that's not realistic. But I also know, from mine and others' experience, that these instances are called "moments of clarity." That eventual healing and recovery is built on dozens and even hundreds of these moments of clarity. They don't last, but the impression that they make is never completely erased, either. And I truly believe that, as much time as we've been together in the past, as much as I've been there for her over the years, as supportive as I have been--she never really believed that my interest in her was because I truly cared about her, rather than seeing what I could get from her, until that moment in the car yesterday. It might be one of those "you had to be there" things, but it was real. She's told me a few times recently, for the first time in all the time we've known each other, without feeling under any kind of duress, that she loves me. But she told me six different times yesterday after that moment in the car that she loved me. And even two days ago, the idea of leaving her apartment keys with me, of trusting me to take care of her outside affairs while she went for help, simply would not have happened.
And I'd be a fool to assume that it's only forward from here on out. But it's progress, not perfection, and life is a journey, not a destination. I am glad that her journey, at least for today, has not led to another jail and penal institution. I am glad that, for the last ten hours, she has not had to chase the next one, and hopefully will not for the rest of the day.
Blessed are the merciful, indeed. It was and is hard to do, and I may not feel this way much past this moment. But I know I did God's work yesterday. And I can feel no better feeling than that.