18-08-2014: I saw Terry today, he looked awful. He appeared to be wandering around inside the selfish maze of his own head. Rest assured, Terry’s head is not a good place to be. Passing him by in the busy Southend-On-Sea High Street I could see his eyes were glazed over with an angry, vacant inward stare. He never noticed me at all. Looking at him walk by it seemed all those thoughts that filled his head made his lips move slightly. Mumbling to himself, sorting out yesterdays ills.
Terry is a homeless alcoholic, he is 28 years old. I certainly know how he thinks and how he copes. His utter distaste to the clinical world where everyone nowadays has the ability to fill out forms, open bank accounts, and a Face Book page amongst other computer social and literate activities. Terry has a problem with society in general. He cannot wait his turn in a queue like the rest of us can. He pretends he doesn’t need to queue and those of us that do are just fools that adhere to “the system”. “We’re all mugs that need a good kicking”, says Terry. Terry couldn’t kick his way out of a wet paper bag, or a wet card board box maybe more fitting, and he knows that after sleeping in so many. When terry is presented with a form to fill out he inevitably takes the form away with him from the professionals desk, say, the DHSS office for example, with all good intentions. He will nod in approval to the professional employee who smiles at him while encircling with a red pen the important areas that must be completed. The governmental employee means well and really is trying to help Terry, but unfortunately has more chance of winning the lottery than actually making a difference in Terry’s maladjusted life. Terry will treat the form like an important contract finding an inside pocket where it will be locked away and kept dry. Over the following few days the form will gather stains and creases, and eventually be lost amongst all the other bits and pieces of Terry’s world.
Terry has two scenarios (no choices). The first is he must hit rock bottom and blurt out his truth about how he cant cope, and how he is so frightened of everything. The second is to continue as he is, simples.
My first encounter with Terry was quite a drab affair. I was sober, at last, and he was drunk, so drunk he could hardly stand. He smelt bad too, and some of the others in this particular get well together meeting were sick and tired of his antics. Every time he turned up to a meeting something bad always happened triggered by his abuse. On the odd occasion fists were thrown, but that was very rare. On other occasions the police were called, but that was rare too. Once I called an ambulance after he had had an alcoholic seizure. He was taken to hospital and kept in for a few days. Terry had no interest in sobering up and only attended meetings for a hot coffee, biscuits and the odd rumble in the recovery jungle. The more sober members asked him to leave due to Tradition 3 suggests “the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking”, and Terry lacked that in abundance. Terry was a real drunk, a homeless down and out, unlike the rest of us who frequent AA meetings in Southend On Sea Essex, who have a chunk of relatively good sobriety. Many of us nevertheless grew to like Terry and often shared a cigarette with him after the meeting had finished.
Terry first realized his drinking problem at the age of fifteen. By eighteen his parents had him removed from their home after he had threatened to kill them both while they slept. On one occasion he was seen stabbing the kitchen table top with a large knife gripped in his left hand, while gripping even harder a bottle of vodka in his right. There was no way he was going to let them take it from him. The police were called and Terry was removed once again. After a brief respite where guilt became too much for the parents, he was allowed to move back in. New rules were laid down and agreed, only for Terry to break them within a week, which spelt his removal from home once again by the police. Terry’s illness is so profound he seemed to be out of reach to anyone who attempted to help him. After two weeks of sleeping on friends sofas his homeless career began.
After one particular Saturday morning AA meeting held at the Bellevue Baptist church in Southend-On-Sea, Terry asked me to wait with him for his parents to turn up with some new clothes. We chatted idly, I had very little to say to Terry after seeing him in this situation for over a year. My basic and fearful spirit had run dry. The Jesus I hoped for had left the building. His parents couldn’t take him back anymore because the same old same old kept repeating itself. A car turned a corner and his father got out and handed Terry a bag of clothing with an envelope full of money. A few pleasantries were swapped and his parents were gone. The looks on their faces was devastating to see. They were as hopeless against alcoholism as Terry was. Within the next two years Terry became a member of 3 churches all of which found him a flat, furniture, company, love, some money and guidance on how to join society, and yet Terry still could not cope and returned to the streets. Over the years there have been professional therapists, doctors, nurses, hospitals, charities, people of faith and nothing worked.
Not long ago Terry was found dead in a car park after over dosing on drugs. He had had a heart attack and is now gone. The papers wrote an article about him and showed pictures of his friends with sad faces, and that is the end of Terry. God bless