I like a drink!
In fact I like too many drinks – but I have been cutting down significantly and can honestly say I do not drink any more than your average regular drinker, if there is such a thing. I am not in denial about my drinking and am completely honest to my Doctor, who just shakes her head and goes crook at me at every consultation. I appreciate that from a health point of view and an economic point of view drinking absolutely makes no sense.
Culturally I come from a family, a country that likes to drink. I also like drinking. So there is always a regular subtle calling to open the fridge, but always after 6pm – never before.
Do I have a drinking problem? Probably.
But do I get drunk regularly? No.
Can I go without a drink for sustained periods? Yes.
Do I have black outs or memory loss. No!
Do I put my drinking before my loved ones? Absolutely not!
Does my drinking cause problems at work through absenteeism or performance? No!
So while I may have a problem – its something that I like to think is pretty well contained and it is something I am changing – albeit slowly. I hope I am not lying to myself or in denial, because sometimes you just don’t know.
I work for an organisation which finds work for those living with barriers to employment, whether it be injury, illness or disability. It’s a very cool and rewarding job. I like my work and I generally like working with my clients. There is one big exception- its those living with addiction and dependency issues. I feel for these people I really do – but they are the hardest people to place by far (placing people living with depression, intellectual or learning disabilities are comparatively easy). And when you do find them work Job retention is poor – absolutely pathetic.
People are dishonest for many reasons, embarrassment, fear, status, stigma, but people are also dishonest because they are in denial. I find those living with addiction and dependency can make a mockery of honesty but do it in a way which can be quite believable. They are well practiced.
Check out the following conversation which is a reflection of a recent meeting with a client:
Me: Thanks for coming in Mr X, I have been trying to get hold of you since before Christmas, did you not receive my messages?
Mr X: Well I was probably too tired from work to get back to you. You see I was working from 7.00am until 4.00pm and when I got home I was so knackered I had something to eat and went straight to bed.
Mr X looked straight into my eyes – his blue eyes expressing truth, honesty and sincerity. His body language remained open – non fidgety. His voice was clear and posture remained erect. He was not sweating. You’re lying to me – Mr X I thought.
Me: Texts can be made at anytime Mr X – even after hours. I don’t really understand why you didn’t get back to me, because when you don’t get back to me I start assuming things. Like maybe you don’t want to get back to me? How long did you work at the job I found you? And tell me what happened that your’e no longer working there.
Mr X: Two weeks. On the last day I worked there I was moved into another department – and I found that work really hurt my wrists. Then I told the boss – who then told me not to come back tomorrow.
Mr X’s eyes continue to make direct contact. You’re lying to me Mr X, I have already spoken to the employer.
Me: How many sick days did you take off in that 2 weeks period Mr X?
Mr X: Oh, only a couple. One day I had a really bad throat and then one day I had a bad stomach.
Me: For an employer, a brand new employee taking two days off in 2 only weeks is a bit of a concern. How often did you get paid by the way – and tell me about your stomach problem?
Mr X: I got paid fortnightly, and I got bad my bad stomach after my first pay. I went crazy buying pizza’s and nice food that I haven’t really been able to afford for a while living on a benefit. I ate so much I made myself sick.
Me: So, what did your boss say when you told him?
His eyes are so blue – I wish I had such clear blue eyes?
Mr X: Well, that was the day he let me go. He seemed alright at first – but when I complained about my wrists he let me go.
Me: Okay; you see Mr X when you don’t communicate with me, keep me in the picture, as I said before I start making assumptions. I start thinking things like, maybe Mr X got on the piss after he received his first pay? Maybe he drank so much he couldn’t work the next day? Are you back on the piss Mr X? You look bloody terrible today, rough as.
Mr X didn’t flinch, didn’t waver or falter, and his eyes still stayed fixed on me. Your’e about to lie to me again Mr X aren’t you?
Mr X: No, I’m not on the piss again, I look rough because I was up late last night texting my new girlfriend. Hand on my heart, I’m not back on the piss.
You never texted me – I thought to myself
Me: Probation tell me you gave a dirty test.
Mr X: I know, but they came and tested me the day I had my sore throat. I had taken some throat and cough mixture that morning – that’s what gave me the dirty test, not alcohol.
The lie came out beautifully, it sat floating in the air between us like a soft satin pillow, as far as lies go – this was a cracker. A hint of admiration came to me. I smiled. This guys so good!
Me: How the hell I am supposed to find you a job Mr X,because from where I am sitting it seems to me that this situation will keep happening? I’ll find you a job, an employer willing to give you a go – and you’ll bin it in a week or 2. That really piss’s me off.
Mr X: I won’t Roly I promise. I want to work. I really do.
I’m still working with Mr X, I could have easily told him that in my professional opinion he wasn’t work ready and deactivated him from our service. But I didn’t, was it his blue eyes, or my faith in humanity and people’s ability to change that helped me make this decision? Probably both: People deserve chances (did you know people living with addiction will relapse on average 11 times – before finally recovering). Unfortunately in NZ and most countries, Drug and Alcohol counselling is only funded for 2 relapses.
His eyes, reminded me of his humanity, his innocence and his lies. I felt for him. Addiction is a terrible thing.It make’s people do and say terrible things. Beneath his addiction there seems to be a likeable guy – but maybe it is me who is fooling myself? Maybe his eyes portray someone that I want to see.
For the record, Mr X is a recidivist drunk driver who has spent time in prison. Up until recently he has denied all Drug and Alcohol counselling, as he did not believe he had a problem. I am pleased to add that he is about to start counselling. I also hope he has just had his 11th relapse!