Wednesday, March 15, 2006
First week on the job, I’m home for a little over a week, and Roger B. attempts suicide...on a work night no less. How inconsiderate? Albeit I’d only met the guy, but was there ever a man more stressed. Having driven a commuter bus for one of the largest companies in town for years, he let alcoholism end his career. Not that he’d ever driven drunk mind you, but alcohol has ways of destroying a man’s life other than by direct approach.
See, my sponsor seriously thinks by surrounding me by examples of lives gone chaotic that this will somehow have a positive affect on my sobriety, that scenes like these will have a chilling effect – hell, a sobering effect – on my sense of conscience. A wise man, my sponsor. And while I’m on the subject, there’s a double edged bragging right I flaunt with recovering alcoholics, ironically humorous and serious: “My sponsor can beat up your sponsor!” Like kids in a playground, we often joke around about the fact that many of us have maturity frozen in time since our first drink. “Yah, right pal!”, is the response I unusually get, however quickly stifled by a serious smirk that says, believe me, you don’t want to find out. If not, “He bench presses 285,” usually changes the subject right quick. The other edge to the sword is that he can easily bench press me.
But the real reason I take him at his word is that he’s endured more pain in sexual relationships than anyone I know and survived. There’s a time to shut up and listen and that’s usually when his lips are moving.
I was introduced to Roger one week ago at my first weekly house meeting. He appeared then like a man on the edge. Loosing the only decent job you’ve had in your life can break a man, especially when it goes along with your pension, professional reputation, and ability to move horizontally to another bus company. Although legally in the wrong for disclosing the terms of termination, the word got out to competing companies. No one will hire him. A potentially winnable lawsuit will not restore order to his life.
So when faced with the consequences of taking the mandatory drug screen and walking from Cuilinn House, Roger walked straight back to his bedroom, barricaded the door, and swallowed all his prescription medication. Roger is a big man, not one to walk away from anyone, but the manager bench presses 285.
It took the police of two squad cars the remove Roger handcuffed from his suicide note littered loft, a site comforting to most neighbors watching. The question in my mind now is: Are we on good enough terms with our neighbors that they’ll feel comfortable discussing the evening’s events? So far the silence is deafening, which doesn’t really tell me whether or not, who or whom knows that this is a sober house. Such facilities tend to attempt to build up a reputation that never begs the question.
Roger is recovering at the hospital right now in fairly stable condition. He did not do any major damage to himself physically. I can only imagine he’s there for the psychiatric assistance and housing. Our landlord summed it up eloquently when he responded to reporters and other sober house landlords’ voyeuristic phone inquiries as to his death, “Yah, he died! There was a wake. We buried him in the backyard!”, slamming the receiver down.
I don’t make hard fast rules about suicide, but I believe like most people that it is purely a selfish act. However, since working the program I’ve learned to take June B.’s past suicidal threats seriously. It’s hard for me to face the reality that I made the one person I’ve ever loved the most want to commit suicide.