Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em

I was thinking today about a part of this journey I don't really care to think much about because, well, it somewhat embarrasses me. Not that it necessarily should, but it does. Which might make me a snob, but whatever. Anyway, I guess I will dive into the background, since this won't make any sense any other way. There is so much more to the story, and in time, I am sure most, if not all of, it will be revealed, but for now, you get what you get.

In July '07, my sister came up here on a visit with my parents. She was going through withdrawls and was very unpleasant (to say the least). Some events ensued, and she ended up stealing my aunt's camera to trade for drugs. I got angry at her - very angry. I yelled at her, shamed her, and told her exactly how pathetic I thought she was. (I don't regret doing so, though I do regret the presentation.)

My mom and I left her in the car while we went into a restaurant for a Miss Oregon after-party, and when we came back, she was gone. She had left on foot, and my town is small, but nevertheless, my mom and I drove around in circles for about an hour scouring the town looking for her. Around midnight, she called me to say she was safe. She said nothing else. For 2 days, we had no idea where she was. When she finally resurfaced, we found out she had been holed up at some guy's house; she said she knew him from her brief living period here before, but we later learned that was a lie.

She then began dating the guy, and decided she wanted to try and live here again and get a fresh start. (Heroin is hard to come by around here; we're a meth area.) Or so she said. I think she just didn't want to be alone and liked the attention. But who knows, and its not important anyway. Against my better judgement, I agreed to let her live with us again temporarily. Her boyfriend, overall, seemed to be a nice guy, even though they had a very drama-fueled relationship. So I ended up befriending him, since he was always around, and I wanted to try and be supportive of my sister, even if I didn't agree with most of the choices she was making, and she was walking all over me like a doormat.

2 weeks later, they were at the beach and a fist fight broke out, and her boyfriend got a free ride to jail. My sister cracked. No longer able to be with her boyfriend, no money to her name, no access to heroin, and with only 1, very physically abusive female friend (she beat her to the point of a concussion twice), she unravelled quickly. 3 weeks, and many other strange events later, she was back in rehab.

Again, against my better judgement, I decided to be middle man and stick up for the guy. Yeah, you can probably tell where this is going. It backfired big time! I spent countless hours trying to keep the guy from going completely nuts inside his jail cell. I allowed him to call me collect, to relay messages to and from my sister, and racked up phone bills like you wouldn't believe. I would defend him to friends and family, sometimes to the point of tears, when they would tell me what a lost cause he was. Even after my sister broke up with and severed ties with him, I tried to remain his friend and lifeline.

Call me an idealist, but I believe everyone has a chance to be a better person. And my goal with this guy was to try and pull the better person out of him. I encouraged and ministered to him as best I could. Some days he would seem like he was starting to get it. Other days it was like talking to a wall.

There were 2 conversations in particular though that still play over and over in my mind continuously. One makes me feel like an idiot, the other still stirs up old anger. Both involved him calling my sister every name in the book, telling me what a loser, low-life, cheating you-know-what he thought she was. The first time I calmly tried to convince him he was wrong, and to let her mistakes go. The second time, I yelled at him. Loudly. Then I hung up on him. He tried calling me back multiple times that night, then almost daily for the next month. But I had nothing left in me.

I realized at that moment, I was giving respect that I wasn't getting in return. I was offering unreciprocated friendship, and every word I was speaking was falling on deaf ears. Jeremy encouraged me many times to pick up the phone, but I just didn't know what I could say that I hadn't already said, or how I could put up with any more of his half-hearted apologies, excuses, and BS. I drafted letter after letter to him in my head, but never put any of it to paper. I could waste the mental time, but not the physical time. I still think about this man often, because I tried everything in my power to help him. But like the saying goes, you can't help those who are unwilling to help themselves.

I have learned a lot from that experience though. While I will never give up faith that there is hope for anyone and everyone out there, I have learned there is a point when you just have to let go. Some people just can't be helped because they are too busy basking in their own pride, misery, and anger. If someone isn't ready to change themself, there is absolutely nothing you can do or say to get through to them. At a certain point, you have to know when to fold, because trying to hold a drowning person's head above water gets pretty darn exhausting, and it doesn't take long before you start to go under too. I hate giving up on people, but at a certain point, the only constructive thing I could do was shut up, get out of the situation for my own sake, and continue to pray for him.

I am thankful I finally cut ties. Do I like the manner in which I did it? Not really, but it had to be done. It was sapping too much of my energy and turning me into a person I didn't like.

....But that's another story entirely.

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