Why do people take their own lives? What point of desperation must you come, that the belief there is no other alternative becomes plausible? Why do people turn away when help is offered and then believe there is nothing and no one that can help them out of their situation?
There are such people, we read about them every day, sometimes we even know them. Today is such a day for me, and it is a first. One, which I would have been happy to put off for eternity.
Here was a guy who, yes, had screwed up a good portion of his adult life. He had moments of absolute brilliance, and moments of utter chaos. In the short time I knew him he was arrogant, offensive, obtuse, profane, disgusting, and all things one would associate with someone fighting a battle with addiction. He was also kind, understanding, a good listener, generous, and had a huge soft spot for animals and children; his cute little daughter was the light of his life.
When I met him, he was arrogant and now looking back was between low points of addiction episodes. It was not that he wasn’t abusing but quite the opposite; he was highly functioning at the time. That was probably the source of the arrogance. He knew everything, no one knew better than he when it came to anything concerning the daily running of the business. He resented my presence, daily. He didn’t want anyone watching over him at least that is what I was doing in his eyes.
We went through the first cycle of ups and downs when he threw out vendors (who it turns out later he was trying to extort), tried to get back together with an ex with whom he has a daughter, and came to its first of many climaxes, with a car accident. No one knows if the story he told of his side of the accident was true or not, and it is irrelevant as we know now, almost everything was a lie.
Almost a month to the day, he had another accident, but this time, he said that they took him to the hospital. Come to find out months later, he was arrested on suspicion of DUI. This time he came away with back pain, and started taking who knows what pills. Things escalated and he became barely functional. We all tried to help in various ways, but to no avail, this was a downward spiral that could only hit bottom before an ascent could be made.
It culminated in hysterical rants and unfounded accusations of coworkers stealing his pills that the doctor had prescribed for his back pain. Wild phone calls and texts to the entire staff and owner, and a final meltdown in which he showed up for work so incapacitated he rammed into the building with his car. When we had the largest and strongest of our staff try to take his keys from him and get him to hospital for help, he fought them off and drove away, only to return screaming and yelling, quitting his job in the process.
He had sobered up enough to land another position in our industry and subsequently started calling not only the owner but staff members, including myself, begging for his old job back. He wound up coming back, being gone only 3 weeks. In my opinion, it was bad judgment to bring him back after what had transpired and what we had learned, but it not my business and therefore I do not get to make that decision.
He came back a reformed man, or so he said. Saw the error of his ways, vowed he was clean, not only for himself, but for his baby daughter whom he loved more than anything else in the world. This part is true; he did love her more than anything else in the world. It was my honest to goodness hope that the strength of that love would make him better, make him keep his word, make him realize that there were more important things in life than getting high to forget the crappy parts of his life.
He really did make an effort to be a better person. At least the person he showed everyone. I think that was a good part of the problem. He learned to be a better functioning addict.
He made it his goal to be a good dad and a better coworker. He showed a sense of humility and a human side he had not previously. Right up until the time he screwed up publicly, again.
He tried to extort money from a customer. I do not make allegations against the dead lightly. The customer documented it and when questioned repeated his story verbatim. There was no choice once presented with further evidence of pocketing other proceeds than to let him go, again. This time there would be no third times’ a charm. In what was a very humane gesture by the owner, he was only fired, no charges were ever brought. I have to say, I agreed with that 100%, you never kick a man when he is already down and bleeding.
Then things got bad. Not bad as in hey he was already some sort of addict, but bad as in false claims of having been injured on the job and filing workmen’s comp after the fact, bad. Things must have turned ugly for him after that, I do not know as he did not take anyone’s call.
One of the guys got a Happy Thanksgiving text from him. Just one line, no reply when wished the same in return. No one knew where he was or what he was doing for work, just that he no longer worked in the industry.
Then today came. I walked in to work, to have one of my coworkers walk up to me and tell me he was dead. He knew scant details only. I immediately went in search of more information. What others knew was also sketchy. He was dead, 2 or 3 gunshots, he was home, and an autopsy was being performed as they weren’t sure if it was homicide or suicide.
Tonight we find out the final chapter in a sad and all too common story. Someone at the end of their rope, facing foreclosure and no source of income, decides that there is no solution but to end their misery by performing life’s most selfish act. No one knows what the other details were about offers of help, offers of employment, status of addiction, and status of love life, as they are not important.
What is important, and what is the lesson and the takeaway is that, that baby will never remember her Daddy. She will never know the good side some of us got to see. She will not have that Daddy’s girl bond with her father. She will grow up with questions, questions that no one can ever answer to the satisfaction of making her whole again. If there is one answer I could give her, it would be yes, your Daddy loved you with all his heart and you were the light of his life.