My Dad taught me that if a person didn’t toot their own horn, it was fairly likely no one else would either. Over the course of my life I’ve noticed how true this is.
Having said that, I rarely toot my own horn, but I make a conscious effort to recognize others for their achievements and good intentions.
Today I’m the entire brass section, lots of horn-tooting going on.
Several decades ago our family faced its first addiction-related crisis. Shortly after, we faced our second. And then another came. Over the past 20 years addiction has slapped us in the face numerous times, with direct blows squarely hitting their mark at least four times out of the many.
And yet, here we are, surviving, persevering, pushing forward, rebuilding, reclaiming and living. This experience, as hard as it has been, is nothing compared to what many others experience when addiction takes a loved one, destroys relationships, or becomes a cancer that spreads through an office, group or family.
Today I received a call from “Joe”. It was difficult to understand him, because Joe was sobbing uncontrollably. He had been sober for 5 years. His drug of choice: alcohol.
Something triggered Joe last night and he drank again. Today he is homeless and calling for help.
After determining that Joe was in a safe place and not suicidal, I continued our call.
“What else are you using?” I asked.
“No, no, none of the other stuff even tempts me, but the bottle (uncontrolled sobbing), my gut just cries out for it (cannot talk now due to sobbing). My wife, we just had a baby, she threw me out.” (cannot understand anything else he is saying)
“Let’s see if I can find you some help.”
This man, at this moment, is feeling as if he has no hope, no future, no life. He’s lost everything because of “the bottle.” He hates the bottle and he hates himself.
All I can do is offer comfort through a phone.
It’s so ridiculous when you think about it. A man, hopeless and alone, potentially in harm’s way, and all I can do is talk to him calmly, offer hope by promising to try to find help, and then hang up the phone to call someone who might be able to provide treatment.
It’s heart-wrenching, but it’s NOTHING compared to what he and his wife are going through.
So, today, I’m not really tooting my horn. I’m offering a shout out to every single person at the other end of the phone with another “Joe.”
Today, I’m giving a high five to every person on the other end of the line, whether from a call center, treatment center, hospital, counseling office, marketing company, interventionist, police or fire department, or social services.
You deserve so much more, but it’s all I can do today. From here. In a blog post of sorts. So here’s a high five from the cloud to all of you!
And then to the family, the Mom, Dad, sibling, child, aunt, uncle, grandparent, whomever it is that talks with the addict when they reach out for help, I’m doing the same. That call is one of the toughest you’ll ever get, so hat’s off and loud horn-tooting and high five’s for the families out there who are dealing with addiction and all of its ugliness.
There are so many layers to the support system available to addicts when they are ready for help. If only they knew that we are all here, just waiting for them to reach out.
Today, I salute all of you, every layer of support out there. At that lowest moment, we can provide hope. And we do.
Those in the addiction industry who truly care about the client, do everything they can to determine safety and provide hope, before worrying about the next steps. It’s the difference between doing what we do for the right reason or doing it for the wrong reason.
I’ve seen both sides in this industry, and I choose to care. I choose hope.
And today, I salute Joe. For being humble. For reaching out for help. For dropping his guard and being open to those who care. For recognizing that he isn’t the only one with faults, for being willing to forgive, not only others, but himself. For grasping the intangible gift of hope and hanging on for dear life until help can be found.
And I salute Joe’s wife. For not enabling. For drawing the line firmly. For being willing to wait and to be there when he gets well and is ready to come home.
God bless Joe and his family.
And I salute my family. They are troopers. They keep pushing through and supporting each other. With 6 kids it’s hard to get away with anything when 5 sets of sibling eyes are always on you, unless you build a wall and choose a solitary life where no one is invited in, and no one can see in. Even loving family can’t get through those kinds of walls. In those situations, we just have to wait. And hope. And love.
And I do. In life, in family, in work, I choose to care. I choose to forgive. I choose love. And I choose hope. And if that’s all the world remembers about me, I will consider my horn well-tooted. Thanks Dad.
10,000 Beds, Inc., a registered 501c3 nonprofit organization, partners with addiction programs to provide scholarship treatment to those without resources seeking help for addiction. Our goal is to award 10,000 Scholarships for addiction treatment by 2020. We are on target to award more than $1,000,000 in scholarship treatment before the end of 2016. Please consider making a donation to help us save a life today.