This morning I picked up my ex on the way to court. She had taken a bus, so I parked my car and waited for her on the corner of Main and Rissik Street at Gandhi Square.
As I sat and waited, a twenty-something beggar approached me. He started telling me his story about why he needed money. I cut him off, gave him twenty Rand, although I shouldn’t have, just to get the chance to speak to him for a few minutes. I told him that I am a recovering addict and that I know another addict when I see one, and he was honest with me. He admitted that he was an addict and that the program wasn’t working for him, and that he had nowhere to stay. I said what I could to try to help him: That this was his choice, his fault, and his addiction will destroy him if he lets it. I also said that this, begging on the street and disgracing himself, was not the way. “You are better than this”, I said. I told him why I was there, that I was waiting for my ex, so that we could go to court about the custody of our son who was removed from us because of our addiction. Then he told me that he admired me before I shook his dirty hand and he walked away reluctantly. I wonder where that poor man is sleeping tonight, and I am so glad that my addiction never went that far.
This past Friday, I arrived about half an hour early for work. A man in my Skype contacts list (for a year now), who found me through my old blog, finally plucked up the courage to chat to me. He is a South African living abroad. He’s also a software engineer, on methamphetamine as I was. He can’t stop using, and is deceiving everybody in his life. His wife doesn’t know that he is using, and he is afraid to tell her. He doesn’t see the bigger picture: She probably does know that he is using. She is probably in denial right now, but if he continues this way, his marriage, his career, everything could be lost. I tried to advise him on what his best course of action is: Admit that you have a problem, make a plan to get help, and tell your wife. But he said it’s impossible.
I know. I know how impossible it seems. I know it feels like there is no way out. But you are wrong. To all the people like those two that I crossed paths with the last few days: It’s not impossible. You only tell yourselves that it is because you don’t want to stop. That’s the bottom line. Until you make that choice, and follow the difficult but correct path, things are only going to get worse.