Monday, October 17, 2011

Why I Will Always Love Rednecks

Life sometimes takes us to unexpected places. I could list here- and I am certain you could too- a plethora of unexpected events that have taken place in my life which has changed its course dramatically. Not all of these things are good and not all of these things are bad. But they are significant.

I never expected my life to be the way it is right now. I'm a doctor, even if it's not the helpful kind, and I'm at a conference in Boston, Massachusettes. My school asked me to go. Apparently I am sort of responsible. Um, ok. It's a great conference, actually, on the creation and maintenance of the PLC or professional learning community. In our off time, we have visited some historical sights and eaten lobster and scrod. Scrod isn't as cool as I thought. Beyond its function as the pluperfect subjunctive form of a slang term for sex, apparently scrod is the fish equivalent of veal. I found this out after I decided it was delicious and now it will take some time to forgive myself. Like I said, life is strange and you never really can be prepared for the unexpected.

I have a boyfriend. Completely unexpected. We met online. Yes, that sounds bad. But we have a mutual friend and were making fun of him online and it just went from there. I think I mentioned him in my last post. Really good person. I will spare you, dear reader, from my twitterpated ramblings but he has possibly read more literature than I have and he is a better vegetarian than I am as well. Or more strict; not sure about the "better" part. Also unexpected. I have only ever dated meat eaters. Grey is also kind to just about everyone he has ever met. You can tell a lot about someone by the way they treat people who cannot do a thing for them.

Not everything in life is rosy, of course. And that's the purpose of this writing. Because life doesn't have much to do with the word "Deserve". If we all got what we deserve the world would be a much different place than it is today. When I taught in the prison system, I saw the effects of a broken justice system every day. I think most people know that. But what might not occur to people is that prison is where people go when they have no access to mental health or drug and alcohol treatment facilities. Another place where unexpected turns just sort of happen.

I have a friend- a cloe friend of many years. He is sick. Very, very sick. He's got an addiction problem. I have seen his life fall apart from successful, bill-paying, working, car-driving responsible guy to something else in a rapid downward spiral in no time flat. I love and respect my friend and will spare all of us the description, but suffice to say that addiction is an ugly, ugly disease and he needs help. Now.

And there was nothing there. Nothing for him to get help.

I was there in the gallery when our Oklahoma legislators decided, in their infinite wisdom, to cut funding for drug and alcohol treatment centers. Most of them has closed in the last two years. This is a deplorable state of affairs. In order for my friend to get help, he either needs to commit a crime and get arrested, find hundreds or thousands of dollars for inpatient treatment, or die. And from what he told me, in a lucid moment, was that to be honest, if he had hundreds or thousands of dollars for treatment, he'd just put it in his arm. He hadn't eaten in awhile so I brought him a sandwich. Honestly, I had stopped by that night hoping that he wasn't dead and too afraid that he was not to go check.

Shame on you, Oklahoma. I vote, and when I can, I vote for more public assistance, not less.

And God bless rednecks.

I called a friend at the behest of my dear friend. He is a really good man. A big old redneck friend who is also a long-time member of Alcoholics Anonymous. I said "Can you come help?" He did not say "Does he have money for treatment?". He did not say "is he in jail?" and he did not say "I have to worry about myself first." He said "Hell yeah. I will be there in 15 minutes."

True to his word, fifteen minutes later he pulled up in his pickup truck. He is a giant of man, eaily towering over me (and I'm 5'8"). I have always felt very safe with this man. He rides a Harley and when I pulled up with my red zebra-striped scooter he asked for a ride. "Ridin's ridin'", said my friend, and he said he'd be seen with me and my girlie scooter any day of the week. Yes, he came when I called. He brought help with him. Three other men just as burley and hardened as he is. If anyone can help an addict, it's another addict. And it was time for me to go. But first I threw my arms around that big old redneck and kissed him on the cheek. "You are my hero. I mean that." Then I left, before I started crying again. If anyone can help, it's them.

I don't know how things will turn out. It's out of my hands. If there was something I could do, I would have done it already. Hell, I would've gotten sober for him if I could. So would his mom or any of his other friends. And it's frustrating and heartbreaking that there is nothing I can do.

So I'm doing what I can do. Trying not to worry. Trying not to hover or dwell too much on the how or the why of addiction that robs people of their dignity, their health and their relationships. It's a cop out to say that these are the choices that people make. Addiction kills people. Alcoholism is a disease like any other and deserves treatment. It's public perception that blames the addict and allows them oftentimes to die. How would you like it if you had cancer and someone blew off your necessary treatment because you couldn't afford it- or worse yet, blamed you for having a tumor in the first place?

Me, I've done what I can and have to trust others to take care of the rest. If there is a God out there, please let her send more rednecks because we need all that we can get.

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