Over the last two weeks my relationship with n. has been reduced to picking him up, driving him around, buying him a few meals, and buying tobacco, groceries and few other articles to make his life at the Salvation Army a little easier. He has not been able to give up drugs and he is still avoiding drug treatment. He continues to ask me for resources while lying about his addiction and his plans to deal with it. Today (February 8) I told n. that I was not going to keep meeting him and buying things for him while he is avoiding drug treatment. I finished a conversation that we have been having over the last few weeks.
He left the hospital 12 days ago on Thursday January 27. He called me that afternoon and told me he had checked in at the Salvation Army. He called me in the evening and wanted me to meet him downtown. He said he had gone to St. Vital and met Brittany (Mark’s girlfriend) and some other friends. He said he was able to get downtown by bus but didn’t know how to get to the Salvation Army. I met him at Portage and Main, drove him down Main Street and explained which buses might have taken him all the way there. He told me that he smoked weed with them, and said it was helping him to stay away from crystal. I didn’t ask him about how he had raised bus fare. I assumed CFS had issued some tickets but he told me later that his mom had set him up with tickets again.
On Friday afternoon he called and asked me to drop his duffle bag with his extra clothes. At first he wanted me to pick him up and drive him somewhere in St. James. He said he had located a TV and he said he was going to buy it, so that he could play his Playstation at the Sally Ann. I said he would have to manage that trip on his own but I did deliver his clothes. I asked if he had checked in with Lyle at the TRY Program. He said he had dropped in and missed Lyle.
I was judging a debating competition on Saturday morning and he called my cell phone, but it was set to a silent profile and I didn’t answer. He also called on Sunday but I don’t recall doing anything with him.
I followed up with Lyle on Monday (January 31). He said n. had missed an appointment on Friday. N. called me and wanted to get some clothes he had abandoned in my care, dirty, when he left CFS care a few weeks ago. He wanted them clean. He said it was hard to get access to the washing machine at the Salvation Army, and I agreed that it wasn’t a hardship for me to wash them. I wasn’t able to get it done that day – complicated story about Claire, the shower, hot water. I met him and if memory serves I bought and brought him tobacco.
He called on Tuesday. He said he couldn’t use the showers because the floors were gross and he needed sandals. He said the bathrooms were usually out of toilet paper and he needed a few rolls. He needed batteries. He wanted groceries. I am not sure if this is the first time he brought up, because it has run through my dealings with him. His meals at the shelter are taken care of in a cafeteria but he isn’t using it. He kept saying the cafeteria food was gross and made him sick. Today he also complained that they serve at specific hours and that he can’t be there because he sleeps past breakfast and goes out out with his friends at the other meal times.
He wanted me to meet him midafternoon but I told him I would meet him after work. He called me after 5:00 PM as I was walking home. He sounded vague. He wanted me to pick a time and place to pick him up and I said 6:15 at the entrance of Cityplace on St. Mary Avenue, near the church (St. Mary’s Cathedral). I specifically said not the entrance opposite the new hockey Arena and the library, which is a block away at the far end – and inaccessible because it is on the Graham Avenue bus mall, which is closed to regular traffic. When I drove by, he wasn’t there. There was a hockey game at the Arena, and I couldn’t park or pull over. I circled the block several times. He called me on my cell phone near 6:45. He said he was at the entrance by the library, and refused to walk to the other entrance. After I complained I had gone around the block three times, he claimed he had seen me and chased me twice. I circled the block one more time and finally picked him up. We were both mad. As it turned out, he probably hadn’t been at either entrance at the right time. As the evening wore on, he told parts of a story about meeting a guy, smoking a joint and getting jumped and robbed of his Discman.
He didn’t want supper but he did want to deal with his shopping list. he was also insistent that I had to bring clean clothes so he could change and leave me more of his dirty laundry. I stopped at couple of drug stores to look for simple rubber thongs. I bought him some canned goods, cookies, toilet paper. He complained about his crazy life – somehow the fact that he was robbed (as he alleged) was my fault because I had not picked him in the afternoon, and he had been bored waiting and had gone with this guy. He gave me some insights into our relationship and advice for my life. He said he only called me when he needed things because we had nothing else in common. He thought I was mismanaging my life and career because I wasn’t taking any time to enjoy life. He thought I might sell the house, but stay in Winnipeg and live off the money. I asked him how I was supposed to keep supporting myself and his sister and paying for his care and paying for his mother’s support while she sings, meditates, channels, worships herself and follows her bliss.
I couldn’t find sandals or thongs in the drug stores so I headed for Zellers at Grant Park. When we arrived at Grant Park, one of his friends called for him on my phone. He began to negotiate plans as I was driving into the parking lot and I heard him talk about the guy he met, the Discman and $70.00 which sounded suspicious. He was still talking when I parked, and lost in the flow of the conversation. I wanted my phone back before I would leave to shop and he was slow to surrender it. The service was slow, and it took a few minutes to locate the articles n. still needed and to get through cashier’s line. N. was now concerned about the time and anxious about his plans with his friends being disrupted. I dropped him at the Salvation Army, and agreed to drop him somewhere downtown on my way home. He kept me sitting there for 20 minutes. His explanation was that he had to roll smokes.
On Wednesday, I had his laundry in my car and took the car to work, and dropped his clean laundry at the Sally Ann at noon before going on to meet a client at his office on Main Street. He dropped in at my office on Thursday after lunch. Danielle was with him. He said they were hungry. He said they were going to visit the AFM office on Osborne Street to make an appointment to see about some drug treatment. I bought them sandwiches at Robin’s Donuts and went home and drove to Bird’s Hill to ski.
He called me late on Saturday afternoon. He wanted to do something but I had already made plans to go out and see a movie and some live music. I thought I might take him to brunch but I thought that wouldn’t work. I said could meet him in the afternoon for lunch and a movie. I didn’t think he would want to see “Sideways”, and I wanted some time to myself.
He called me on Sunday morning. He said he was at the Health Sciences Center. His explanation for being there was that he had been bored and gone for a walk which is unusual for him at that time of day. (I checked with his mom later and she said he told her he had been staying with somebody near the HSC on Saturday night). He said he would go to a movie, but when I picked him up he said he only had an hour before he had to call or meet Danielle. He wanted groceries and cigarette tubes. He said he was going to meet the AFM counsellor on Monday.
The next hour and a half involved driving n. to Safeway, then to the Salvation Army, then to the Norvilla Hotel, and then to Winnipeg Square at Portage and Main. He made several phone calls to Danielle. He did appear to go through a receptionist and ask for room 109, so assumed that she was truly at the Norvilla. He was talking to her roommate Melanie and arguing about putting Danielle on the phone. I heard that she was sleeping. His conversations with Melanie and Danielle revealed a few details that were not consistent with the general situation he was presenting to me. He implied he was meeting with her later, but it didn’t sound like she was that interested, and at some point n. said he had not seen her on Saturday either.
I bought him some groceries and drove him to the shelter so he could put them away. I offered to drop him downtown or even at the Norvilla. I said I was not going to drive him to St. Vital. He didn’t want a ride just then, but he complained he had run out of bus tickets. I headed up Henderson, stopped at a convenience store and bought him bus tickets. He wanted to call Danielle again. However she didn’t want to go out and he didn’t want to push and he didn’t want to get out of the car and wait for her in the lobby. I asked what the problem was and he said he had been paranoid that that the hotel staff had been hiding Danielle and had freaked out there before I took him to the hospital. I took him back downtown.
I realized that n. was pretty much doing the same things he had been before he went into the hospital. He is obsessing with Danielle while she is not committed to him and doing her own thing, perhaps teasing him a bit. There are clear signs that they are doing drugs independently and together. I was angry because n. kept changing his story and wasn’t being truthful.
My discussions with him on Sunday were not particularly organized, and I was frustrated and angry. I said things as events unfolded. First, when he said he wanted me buy him things and did not want to see a movie, I told him that I was disappointed that he was changing the plan that we had made and that I felt he was using me again. I said I did not know why I was buying food or why I should be buying food. I was wondering if he was trading it for drugs, but I don’t think I said that out loud. On reflection, I think he has been using the food to escape from the routine of the Sally Ann shelter, to maintain the idea – the illusion – that he is leading a happy and liberated life.
I was feeling helpless. N. was calling me for resources under two general claims: (1) life at the Salvation Army was pretty dismal and he deserves better (2) these things relieve stress and help him to avoid drugs. I was sure my assistance wasn’t been helping him to avoid drugs. It seems to have been making it easier for him to maintain his life as an addict. He seems to want to maintain contact with me for something more than economic support but he isn’t able to let me into his life. I think he gets some comfort out of the fact that I was still trying to take care of him. It’s not a pure manipulation on his side.
It’s probably good that he isn’t trying to share his life with me because I would have a hard time being supportive of his values and actions. I try to counsel him, but he does not want to be controlled or influenced. I try to share some of the things in my life but he is generally bored. I don’t know how to sustain a relationship with an addict.
I said I didn’t like his addiction and I didn’t like the way he acted as an addict. I said I had not been able to trust him for over three years. He asked me why I was still buying him things and coming to see him and I said I did not know any more. When I learned that his story about meeting Danielle was his plan, and that she hadn’t agreed to see him or meet him, I told him that I saw his pursuit of Danielle as being driven by compulsion and lies. He said that hurt.
He didn’t want to get out of the car when we stopped at Winnipeg Square. He said he hadn’t eaten and suggested I should buy him a meal. I said I would take him back to the Salvation Army or he could walk. I had some other groceries in the car and I offered him a bun.
At that point I just wanted to get away. I think he wanted to see me and I think he also wanted to use me to support his plans for the day – to get him a meal, to drive him somewhere else. I think he was also going planning to ask me to help him to get a place where he could be safe and feel good. I told him I was tired of following his his agenda and decoding his lies and I threatened to call the police if he did not get out of my car.
He called me on Monday and said he was out of tobacco. He wanted me to take a bag of laundry. I met him at the shelter. He told me he had missed his appointment with the counsellor at AFM. At first he said the counsellor was sick but later he said that he had slept in, but it didn’t matter because the counsellor had been sick.
I met n. for lunch today at Portage Place. I asked him what arrangement he had made to reschedule his appointment at AFM. He responded with the same stories that I have heard many times – that I don’t understand the addiction and no one who has not used drugs can tell him what to do. When I suggested his stories had been untrue he accused me of twisting his words and misunderstanding him. I told him that I did not want to hear from him until he had taken action to get help with his addiction. As usual, he played it tough. At first he said that he would be pleased to show me that he could make it, then he demanded money and harassed me until I said I was going to call the police. He backed off but then claimed that I was jacking all his stuff in my possession. I said he could have it. He wanted me to deliver his last load of laundry back. I said he could call me when he was back at the shelter so I could drop it.
I care for n. I hope we can have a relationship. I am not helping him to understand that he needs help. He has been using me to try to create his happiness.