I have a friend, a good and kind man who runs to the nebbish, facing some extremity. He’s on the verge of real homelessness, skating on the edge of no more couches and spiraling debt – not of the credit-card variety, but of the unpaid rent-and-utility-covered by-friends variety.
He’s got a substance problem, which he at least is aware of, and informing that are self-esteem and motivation issues. I have been busy-bodying myself with him for a few months and while he’s in better spirits now than when I first became concerned, he’s in lo lesser jeopardy. His dad lives nearby and I have strongly and repeatedly suggested he take up these issues with his parent but he’s reluctant to, for a variety of reasons, some good, some not. I’m reasonably certain that in efforts to please me and to maintain self-image, he’s lied to me about his substance problem on more than one occasion.
I’m not hurt by the lies – I expected them, they come with the territory – but of course, it makes it that much harder to guage what sort of assistance one can effectively provide.
I was concerned that I would reach the lie-awake-at-night stage if I stepped up, and so it seems I have. I could make a truthful joke about how much more a good night’s sleep is worth to me than a pal’s future, but I’ll refrain and damn myself instead. I truly can’t help, I think; he has to take the first actions himself. All I can do is point out the places that persons actively concerned with self-preservation might choose to step, the places I step every day.
Each time my foot falls on one of these solid outcrops in the rushing stream I note it, and hate it. I’m unsure why I’m reaching out to my friend. He seems to actively desire the world, for all of his uncertain and self-wounding interaction with it. I basically loathe the place and fervently wish I’d never seen it. Since I’m here I’m obligated to fulfill my duties, which involve living as long as possible, apparently consuming far more of the planet’s gross production than I actually need or want, and working to accomplish what I can in the service of goals developed by others in my social network. That last duty is really the only one that I find vaguely satisfying, and probably underlies my efforts in the service of my troubled friend. He’s expressed shock and disbelief when I’ve tried to communicate the depth of my misanthropy to him, in an effort to explain why I’m bothering to try to offer a hand to brake his slide.
I guess I can understand that.