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Providing non-judgmental and non-criticizing support for family and friends of end-stage alcoholics through one-on-one coaching, support groups, blog posts, workshops and public speaking.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

A wise old person...

It is difficult to be of an age when you have become “experienced”. I often heard said that older people are sagacious or sage, wise, and/or educated. Not educated as in a Master’s degree in anything, but educated via the school of life.

In other countries the senior citizens are revered for their life of information gathering. In the USA, unfortunately, that is not the case. Instead children are intent on having to do things by self-learning which is often a “hard row to hoe.” But none the less,
they must try and fail, try and fail, and then try and fail until they find their own path, their own knowledge.

We often try to instill our knowledge into others’ lives by making suggestions, offering solutions, and trying to provide direction. But it falls on deaf ears. After all what could an old person know about today’s life challenges? I recall telling my parents that things have changed since they had my problem and their suggestions just won’t work now. 20/20 hindsight is great and I now feel that I should have taken my parents advice. But, I guess I needed my own “try and fail” experience.

As an old person, a wiser and more experienced person in general, I often become frustrated with what I deem to be the lack of respect for my knowledge. Friends and family seem to always be telling me what to do as though I have no clue how to figure it out for myself. When I don’t take their suggestions I end up hearing – “I tried to tell you” – which is the same thing as “I told you so.”

I know of a young man who is addicted to pain killers. He came by the addiction, like many people do, after a severe injury to his back and being prescribed copious amounts of pain medications. It was perfectly legal. He was relieved of pain, but now he had a habit to feed. The young man managed to quit the drugs and stay clean – that is until he re-injured his back. Then it was the same old merry-go-round.  Once again he kicked it, but his beloved dog died and he needed to ease that pain.

I’m seeing this through the eyes of an old person who has heard the same story (sort of) many times. I feel like I’m riding in the front seat of a locomotive and I can see the on-coming light which I know is a train about to collide and destroy everything in the tunnel. I can see what’s ahead for this young man, but I can do nothing about it.

He was offered rehab and at very reputable and expensive center. He could go on a grant and pay very little for the 60 days of intensive therapy at a facility that specializes in addicts who are in physical pain. To top it off, his mother is willing to pay the balance. This appears to be an opportunity of a lifetime. I encourage him to seize the offer and take the time to get well.

But, the young man has his own idea of how to get out of his addiction. Since he can no longer live with his parents, he’s decided to get his own apartment. He has a good job and can afford the rent. His theory is that if he has to pay rent, he won’t have enough money to buy his drugs of choice. In his mind, he is forcing himself to be responsible. Well… I can see how this MIGHT work, but that oncoming train is moving pretty fast.

It is frustrating that I feel I can predict his future based on past experiences with other young people. I try to keep an open mind but the memory cards in my brain are being pulled out faster than greased lightning headed for a lightening rod. It’s faster than the train.

I have learned to not give my predictions or advice unless it’s requested. I was open and honest with the mother when she asked me what I thought. I told her that her son will end up in rehab and by the time he goes that nice cushy rehab center will be off the table. The apartment will simply give him a more private place to practice his drug use. Eventually, he won’t be able to pay the rent or hold his job because the drugs will prevent him from staying as responsible as he is right now. He WILL crash and it will lead to a much worse situation than he has now OR it could lead to his death.

I remind Mom that there is really nothing she can do. He’s on his own “try and fail” mission. I explain that he’s an adult making adult decisions. At this point, she has very little influence over him and the harder she tries to control him, the more resistant he will be. I want to say… “Let him go and experience his own failure or success. Let him go and maybe things will happen quickly while he can still take advantage of the offer given to him.” But I don’t say that to her because in my sage-ness, I know she is not ready.

It’s time to close this post because my daughter is ready to show me the “proper” way to clean the kitchen.  I guess I've been doing it wrong for most of the last 60 or so years. On the other hand, maybe she knows something I do not. My wise old mind knows that there is always something new to learn. 

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