Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Rehab + Relapse

Can I ask you a question?
Why do you care for me?
Because I can’t care for your children unless I care for you.

And so, rewind. There’s a parallel story going on, of which I have not spoken much. A companion tune (or perhaps, more accurately, white noise) that has always been there in the background - like tinnitus.
After completing his time in rehab, Enildo – the father of our four brothers – held out for a few weeks before succumbing again to the temptations of (first) thinner and then the harder stuff. Or, as Amy Winehouse might have put it, back to crack.

I returned again and again to that derelict plot of land until finally I found him. Having in my mind a mental image of what he might look like after sleeping rough on the streets for a few weeks, upon seeing Enildo emerge from underneath the soggy cardboard boxes where other users were crouched and then walk slowly - cautiously - towards me, I felt distraught.  Looking at the face, I somehow recognised the person, but at the same time it wasn’t really him. A bit like someone in a dream. Like looking at those before-and-after shots, except that instead of the after, I was looking at the before, again. They say that if you watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory backwards it’s about a crazy man who spends all his money on an elaborate factory until he has to kick everyone out, including his favorite kid who is forced into poverty.

After triage and recuperation, the visits and the friendship, I desperately wanted this all not to be such a crushing disappointment - not a starting-from-square-one.  So for the last four months I have been visiting him there, and the stink of the soiled clothes in which he now lives has seeped permanently into the fabric of my passenger seat.

He often falls asleep while I am talking to him (he wouldn’t be the first!), and when he speaks, chunks of partially chewed food are ejected periodically from the gaping hole in his rotten front teeth. He apologises, and for the umpteenth time picks the morsel off my clothes or face where it landed.  I look at him and cannot help thinking that caring for him is going to be a bit like the famously ‘never-ending’ job of painting the Forth Rail Bridge.


Anonymous said...

i am so grateful for you. your cause is just and the good will win in the end. more than you can even imagine <3

A. said...

My brother also falls asleep when i'm visiting and talking to him. He forgets what i said to him. His mood changes from one extreem to another, one minute he loves me and another he hates me. Sometimes he's more sober and then we can have an (almost) normal conversation, but there are times he says the same things over and over again and a conversation seems pointless.
But one thing I know: he wants me to keep on visiting.
It's out of our control if people like that change or not...God willing yes. We just need to carry on hoping and trusting. Time and time again. Being patient. And it's hard. It's hard to hear the same words over and over again and not to see any progress or see progress and then relapse into addiction. I pray you will be strong emotionally to take it and that you will keep on doing what you're doing and don't lose hope and passion for it.

Luke said...

Thanks, A. I think I needed to hear that. Going through the same thoughts in my head (pearls-to-pigs, not helping but hurting, etc), but then I read about trailblazers like Jackie P and her never-give-up attitude. I do not want to 'tire' (Prov 3.3).

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