Walk Down Misery Street

Sean was a straightforward man who didn’t put up with any dubiousness or over-complication. He had no idea what kind of treacherous serpent he was dealing with now. Every time father and son showed up in my office and the three of us together would try to brainstorm solutions, Sean would say:

“Frankie, let’s forget everything from the past. I won’t remind you of how much money you stole from me. I know, son, that you’re a great guy. You were a smart, good, first-class computer programmer. Throw that crappy portfolio in the trash and be done with it. Okay?” 7

Frank would nod in agreement. But he also pressed the portfolio even more tightly to his chest.

Sean left no stone unturned, looking for help: lawyers, the city health services, and the Treatment Court. Every time, hopeful, he’d show me a new piece of paper with the name and address of another agency. But everyone told him, “Wait until your Frankie either decides to stop using on his own or until he is arrested for stealing or drug possession. Then he’ll be mandated to treatment.”

“Why is that?” asked Sean, confused. “My son has lost his mind and could die from an overdose. Everyone sees that, but no one can do anything? I have to wait until he is arrested? I don’t understand.”

I mentioned to Sean that there is also an option to kick his son out of the house. But Sean was not ready for this “tough love” approach.

“Do you know, Peter, what is the hardest part for me?” he asked me once. “The hardest part is living under constant pressure waiting for THAT phone call”.

“Do you mean for a call from police? At any moment you have to be ready to be informed that your son was arrested, yes?” I suggested.

“Police? If only! I am prepared to hear far worse news.”