Friday, January 2, 2009

and this is how

Jim is sleeping at the back of the shelter. With his head under his jacket his indistinguishable from those sleeping around him. It is only once I wake him, he's the last one up, that I realize who he is.

Jim was once a very successful man. The wife, kids, dog, car in the garage type of success. Jim liked to have a few drinks after work and on the weekends, but eventually those drinks began to have him and things began to fall apart. It seems like such an easy solution, "quit drinking" but it's just not that easy. Jim tried, his wife tried, everyone tried, and things worked, for a while. Things even fell apart and Jim came to the shelter for a while, but he got himself together and went back to his suburban life, sleeping on a mat crammed in between two others only a memory.

As such things do however Jim's life, and his drinking, took another down turn. Things at home got worse and worse and Jim found himself back on the streets. That little sore on his leg turned into a major infection and his back started acting up. Jim kept drinking. Eventually we convinced him to get his leg looked at, but after the initial IV treatment he didn't follow through. And so now he's limping through life.

When I first met Jim he seemed like a person just down on his luck and struggling with his addiction. He was clean, polite, and hopeful. Not to sound crass, but Jim is now indistinguishable from the rest of the homeless he beds down with each night. He is no longer taking care of himself, and his spirit, his sense of hope, is gone, or at least taking a long vacation. I miss it. Jim now sleeps the majority of his day, always tired, depressed. He has no plans to get out of this lifestyle. No plans beyond sleeping, and drinking.

He fell apart before our eyes, and we couldn't stop him. At least we're there to break the fall, cushion the landing and provide a hand back up once the wind returns to his lungs. We can't do the breathing for him though. That's his job.


Anonymous said...

Wow, that is powerful stuff. I see how addiction can twist a person's soul and body up every day when they show up to serve time. It break's my heart. Cheers to you for doing the difficult work of helping those in a shelter. That is some tough stuff.

Still Dreaming said...

thanks. It is heart breaking eh. For some of my clients, jail is the time when they are most free of substances, and they come out with these hopes that their addiction is gone only to discover it doesn't work quite like that.