Sabbatical Update: Good Deed Punished

Well, the past week was the extreme of lack of schedule. All due to one person we attempted to help, and who we may have helped, or may have ultimately merely enabled.

I ran across this person as an acquaintance while out biking, developed a correspondence, and ended up months later helping him after he got out of the hospital. By this point he was also homeless.

When we took him in, originally for one night, ultimately for a couple of weeks, we entered a certain sort of looking-glass world. It sort of reminded me of a part of my upbringing: my parents were good friends with another couple, so periodically we would spend an evening at their place, or they at ours. Whenever we visited them, we did what their daughter wanted, because we were guests; whenever they visited us, we did what their daughter wanted, because she was the guest.  Thus it was with this homeless “friend”.

Our choice in everything, from food, music, etc., underwent the critique. No respect for the hours of the household. Up at all times of the night with TV and music. True, he did help resolve some technical issues with our TV smartcast, but everything was always his perspective. There was the constant mantra that people don’t listen to other people talk, i.e. I wasn’t listening to him, but things I had discussed with him three times he had no memory of (when it suited him), and if he said A today, tomorrow he asserted he has said B yesterday.

During the process of helping him out, we learned that he had bounced from one friend’s home to another after leaving the hospital, each one using him either for access to drugs or sex, and so were very clear to make it understood that our assistance was based on neither of these, or any other expected return from him. We also reiterated that he has not a charity case, that we were helping him develop his plan to get back to independence again.

And yet at the end, his own duplicity did him in.  We didn’t drive him out, he fled himself. He warned us against the danger of dealing with one of his old lovers, a drug dealer, and yet he was the one who called said lover over and over again, gave him his address. And when we tried to get them seated in a three-way conversation, it was our house guest who ran away, and the dangerous dealer who showed dignity, respect, and good ethics.

Not every one can be helped. Sometimes people have to crash and almost burn before they can realize their need to accept the assistance that can make them free.

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