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The danger of avoidance

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

The dangers of not talking to others are often more than one might imagine. Some people are more private than others after all, and not everyone likes to share everything. And yet, witness the stories of bodies found months after death in their homes. In this day and age if you have direct deposit on your social security and an automatic mortgage payment withdrawn from your checking account you might live forever unless your body was found. I often worried about my drug addict customers being in this situation when I worked at a bank. Yet every six months of so, as if they knew my fears, they would call and check in so I knew they were still alive.

Not so with my former husband. The last post he made on his MySpace profile was almost one year ago. Prior to disappearing this go-around, he had left posts to the effect that he planned on moving to the Mid-West to live with his grown son, daughter-in-law, and three grandchildren. I thought at first his lack of posts indicated that he was there, with them, and no longer needed to communicate via MySpace. It was suspicious though, that his photo happy family had never posted any pictures of him with his grandchildren. They tend to post everything else: candid photos of their kids eating with their mouths open, rants on things that bother or annoy them, off color jokes. . . .

I finally learned that he had never made it out there. No one it seems, knows where he is any longer. I read the last post his adult son sent him which said "Sorry my wife was short with you on the phone, she was trying to get the kids out the door." There is no corresponding remark from Howard. Slowly I put the pieces together in my head. His feelings were hurt. Howard is notoriously oversensitive when he's loaded. It seems like a defense mechanism his addiction has created to keep him from interacting with anyone who calls him on his stuff. I remember when he lived with me and was covert about his drug use. During that time his workmanship suffered. It was noticeable to anyone that he wasn't doing as well as he used to.

A clean and sober Howard knows how to rewire a home, paint a house, make simple repairs on a car. The loaded version, however, tries to skate on as little work as possible. "I would have thought you would take more pride in your work," one of our friends had pointed out just a month or two before Howard left me. We were looking sadly at the excuse for a frame Howard had built and charged him for. It looked like the take home project of a six year old, not something a professional would charge money for. Rather than explain his drug use, Howard got very upset, darn near weepy with me.

"I can't believe Peter said that," Howard repeated to me. "I worked so hard on it, I don't understand what is wrong with them." I wasn't sure how to reply. I could see his hurt was real. He had a genuine sense of puzzlement over their dismay. But in addition Howard was annoyed. He had a judgment that they were out of line with their comment. In retrospect Peter might have been more specific in his complaint, i.e. I would like the sides to be square and the paint to match. Howard, I am sure, would have taken offense either way. He had been touchy for the last couple of jobs. None of the customers were calling him back for business any more. No matter.

He either befriended elderly customers with poor eyesight or offered to work for free in exchange for access to their drug cabinets and medication. So there is was then. Howard was still using, which I knew as much, even if his kids didn't suspect, and he got his feelings hurt. He had never bothered to check his profile again, so he probably never read the message from his son or the one from his niece.

He has a niece who was so happy to find his profile she even friended me. Although she hasn't had much to say to me since we ascertained all our Howard leads had gone cold. The only thing I knew for sure is that when I put his Social Security number into the death index, nothing comes up. This doesn't mean he is alive. If he died a street person, and unidentified, maybe he will never come up. I don't know how the social security administration keeps track of stuff like that. With my luck, someone will steal his number and lead me on a merry chase before I figure out what ever happened to long lost drug addict husband.

In the movie 28 days, an angry Sandra Bullock is ordered into rehab after a DUI. Like Howard she is completely convinced she has no problem. She is different from the people in their who are working on their problems. I watched the whole movie and still had the same question: "how do you confront an addict?" With Howard, he just gets his feelings hurt. Suddenly the conversation has shifted to how he was done wrong, by hard words or cruel facts, and not about his lack of accountability. I guess the price of admission with him is to not mention you notice him nodding off in conversation, or driving his truck erratically. In the movie Sandra Bullock's character has no memory of many of the awful things she did, so like Howard she can hardly feel sorry for them.

In fact, at times, addicts wear their exploits on their sleeves. Visit any AA meeting and you'll hear some old timey dry drunks, the ones with over two years without drugs or alcohol, regaling the group with their final high. They recount the story with a wry smile on their lips. The last fun thing they did.



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