Friday, August 16, 2013

At a fork in the road

I  have a knack for dealing with difficult people,  or situations,  and I'm not sure why or where it comes from,  but I have found myself in quite a few situations where I was almost literally " talking someone down from a wall."  I rarely talk about any of it because it sounds so freakin narcissistic,  and I'm not looking for a pat on the back, I do it because it comes natural and I have a genuine concern for people and their struggles.

 When I was 17 my sister's boyfriend,  who I am now great friends with calls me when his dad it's drunk and high on everything imaginable and literally had a gun in his mouth.   He  lived right around the corner so I ran over there.   Mind you,  at the time this is my sister's high school boyfriend who I didn't really know,  much less his father.  I walk in his living room and here is a giant of a man  wearing his blue work uniform,  eyes glass over,  with a gun in his limp,  right hand.   His name is Randy,  same as his son,  so I talk to him like I know him.  " What's going on,  Randy?"   He mumbles something,  and begins telling me he was getting high on huffing glue.   He work with industrial tires,  patching things with adhesives,  and he's been sniffing it for days.   I'm thinking to myself " clearly he's  absolutely wasted,  you can't really reason with that."   But I just keep talking to keep his mind off that gun.  I ask questions because I want them talking,  but you have to be careful of what you ask so as not to piss him off.   He kept answering so I kept asking.  I asked what he was gonna do with the gun and he told me he was gonna end it cuz he couldn't deal.  I told him he didn't have a chance if he used the gun,  making him think about the act of using it.   Saying "kill yourself" is so easy to say and had no real meaning behind it.   He kept saying nobody understands,  to which all I could say is I'm trying to understand,  explain.   He was only giving half answers and mumbling a lot but I sat next to him,  this bigaass  man I met only minutes ago,  taking a gun from him.   I told him I understood, I had my head buried  in enough toilets at 17 to have a real understanding.   I've dealt with alcoholics and drug addicts my whole life, I know how they think.   He somehow trusted meenough to give it to me,  and he  grabbed my hand and just started crying.  I got him in touch with someone from AA and he's been sober ever since.... that's all him though.  I took the gun away and he did the rest,  and I've watched him do it and it's awesome.

 I've talked my mom down quite a few times,  and believe it or not, a few others.   Most recently,  my mother.   She's out of her near death experience  from the alcohol withdrawals and was fighting tooth and nail not to go to a rehab facility which was only physical,  though she insisted it was a mental hospital or something.   If she didn't go willingly she was going to get strapped down and go anyway.   My sister having to go there to court to gain temporary guardianship of her I told her I'd go with,  she'll listen to me.   My sister it's hard nosed and mean about everything so she definitely doesn't help,  though she's great at keeping my mom's shit in order,  but it ends there.   We met with the social workers and they're like "She is being combative and insisting she wasn't going."   She said " we've all talked to her, I don't think it's gonna help."   " Yea,  ok lady with your psychology degree."  iswhat I'm thinking.  I tell em give me 5 or 10 minutes,  to their condescending smiles.   I won't go over the whole conversation,  which was difficult due to the damage she's done to herself,  but she still trusts me.   She knows I know her better than anyone  else and that when she's finally incapable of making decisions on her own,  she trusts that I know what she wants.  I just asked her some questions she couldn't deny the answers to do that  she could see  it was best for her considering  her current state.   We emerged from her room,  she was smiling and prepared to go on her own.   Everybody looked relieved.   They said " what did you say to her?"  I just told them  that sometimes you have to talk to people like they're children without TALKING to them like they're children.

 You know,  sometimes it's like a curse because I often have to explore the dark side of people in order to help them understand  that they're the only ones worn their answers.   And if I'm asking other to openly explore that in themselves I often have to openly explore my own.   What would make a professional seem unprofessional is exactly what helps me help others help themselves.   In the end it's always them, I don't do anything but talk.   They do all  the work.   And I've often seen success stories like Randy and it in itself is payment enough.  I don't know if I could ever take money for something like that,  but helping people is  what I like to do,  and I'm still working in a steel mill.   What a waste.


  1. You are an incredible human being.
    I watched an interesting documentary about suicides in Japan called "Saving 10,000" and there is a man who gathered a group of volunteers who patrol the cliff in Tokyo and talk to people who come there to jump. The government refused to put barriers along the cliffs because they claim it's a famous tourist destination.
    He said they find people sitting on the cliff waiting for someone to talk to them, so he and the volunteers who patrol the cliff approach these people and take the time to talk to them and try to understand their sorrows.

  2. I appreciate the compliment, but I think what most people don't know is that we can all be amazing in some way. I like people to see that for themselves, to answer their own questions, be who they are. Not enough people are paying attention to themselves let alone anyone else.

  3. That's a great story, Ryan. It sounds like you have a gift and that gift seems to come from all the dark things you've been through yourself. I agree that each one of us has what it takes and sometimes we do need an objective ear to listen to and understand us.

    Reminds me of a proverb that I love and try to live by: "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."

    I don't know...nothing in life seems wasted and we do always have choices. It's all about choices, changing direction, perspective. Hmm...

  4. People don't know how to talk anymore, at least not about anything important. It sometimes seems as if the world becomes more and more superficial every day, but I hope that's not true.