***Submitted by Diana, who is a regular contributor to Crying Out Now
There is a man who panhandles at the exit ramp by my train station. I see him often when I walk home. He wears jeans and a t-shirt with a leather vest and has longish grey hair. He looks like an aging rocker or a thin Harley guy. He has no sign explaining his plight, just a cup that he holds out to oncoming traffic. To me he has always seemed rather benign.
I say a silent prayer for him whenever I walk by. I feel for him and I wish him safety and recovery. When he holds out his cup to me, I smile and shake my head. There is pity, though. No judgment, just a sad sickly feeling for a fellow addict who has not found his bottom and doesn’t seem to be looking.
Tonight was different, though. I saw him as I exited the train station. He was stumbling as someone looked for change to give him. Tonight he terrified me. His eyes were clear blue. I couldn’t see his pupils. The sight of him jarred me, almost physically. Tonight this poor soul had no humanity in him and I saw where this disease could take someone. It was heartbreaking and truly frightening. I choked back tears the whole way home.
I suspect that this man’s drug of choice is something stronger than chardonnay or vodka, but that isn’t the point. And he may have been genuinely dangerous, but that wasn’t what I found menacing.
I don’t like to be around really drunk people. I hear my slurring voice in theirs and see my stumbling in their unsteady feet. I experience the conversations that they won’t remember and imagine the repetitive nonsense that I have fortunately blacked out. These people make me squirm but they may or may not be addicts. This man was the personification of addiction and he had reached lows that I am so blessed to have never seen.
Tonight I saw what my future really could have been if I had not sought and received help.