Sunday, October 25, 2015



He walked into my office. He was an alcoholic who chose alcohol above everything else. It was his God. I struggle to remember my first impressions. It was over fifteen years now, but I still remember that look. He looked old, worn down from all the living. His skin was fragile, transparent, like a fine piece of china, a beautifully patterned, hand painted cup, this one with slight cracks down the side, like they get with age. It looked like the slightest touch of his arm would draw blood. His face had deep wrinkles, his brows wild and bushy. His muscles were gone, used up over the years by drowning his sorrows and failures in alcohol. He had a slight limp, falling on numerous misguided paths. His eyes were penetrating, looking at me with a grief that longed for salvation, something I was not prepared to give him.

Life had taken its toll on him, mainly the booze. Whiskey. I asked if he remembered when he started drinking? “I don’t remember. I have always drunk.” Have you had any sobriety? “Yes. Usually no more than a month or so. One time, I made it six months. But she always calls me back. I am under her spell.”  “Have you used any other drugs?”  “Oh, I have tried everything at one time or another. But it’s the alcohol.  She summons me into her arms and I go willingly.”

I was impressed with his insight, but he had lost the love affair. He talked, and I listened. Stories of delight, hope, despair, betrayal, friendship, love, hate, forgiveness, lack of forgiveness, all weaving in and around and through his life, a life now seeking forgiveness almost as desperately as his next drink. Sixty-two years of less than a righteous existence. He had come back from prison; homeless and living on Skid Row; married and divorced three times; rejected as a father by his son and daughter; lost jobs and bankruptcies until he was forced to beg on the street corner; a bleeding ulcer, pancreatitis, and numerous broken bones from beatings he had only the vaguest recollection of. Back from promises broken and nightmares turned real. Each time saved he was thankful, but not enough to quit drinking.

An hour goes fast. I felt as though I had made a connection. He said he didn’t need any further sessions. He felt good that he had shared some things he had never told anyone. He thanked me and was on his way. I wish I could have done more. But there are times in a therapists life when you see things as they are, and realize you cannot change them. It is almost as though destiny has spoken. This was one of those times.

It was several months later I saw his obituary. His body just stopped working. There were no wives, or sons or daughters listed as surviving. Only that he had lived, and then died. That night I had a dream that I met Christ. I woke with a startle, and shook my head to get the cobwebs out, when it occurred to me:  I believe I already had.

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