Thursday, February 24, 2011

Just ... get over it!


I can’t believe I said that to someone.

Especially someone who was obviously hurting, someone who is obviously suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome.

But…

He was an asshole and he didn’t listen and he just would. Not. Shut. UP!

OK, back story:

I met this guy a couple of weeks before I started my temporary relocation to Georgia.  He’s somewhat attractive, and he seemed intelligent and interesting.  My first thoughts were “Of course! I meet a great guy RIGHT before I move 650 miles away!”  But, luckily, the other side of my brain kicked in and reminded me that I had just met him and didn’t know a thing about him and really shouldn’t jump the gun on thinking “he’s the one” or anything stupid like that.

I saw him the next week and laughed with him that we had both been somewhat inebriated that first meeting, so I was kinda glad to meet him semi-sober.  Haha, silly goose!  It was about 7pm, and he was soused already.  But, we still had a fairly decent conversation.  But he told me some more of his story and I felt sorry for him (alcoholic parents, one of whom commit suicde when he was young), and then he talked about being embedded with troops in Iraq and how that affected him.  I suggested that he try therapy since it’s done wonders for me, but noooooo, he’s not having someone “shrink” him.  I mentioned again how it would be nice to meet him sober, and he just looked at me and said, “Sober.  Yes, that’s what I should do.  Get sober.”

I looked at him, and said, “Maybe that IS what you need to do. “

As it happened, I had been talking to a now-sober friend of mine shortly before that and she had given me information on AA meetings and a hotline and stuff like that.  I mentioned some of this to him and he was just sooooo thankful… as he ordered another drink.

Boy am I glad I’ve got that other side of the brain.  That boy is MEEEEEESSED UP! (I actually use a more succinct yet not-PG turn of phrase, but… you get the drift.)  He’s a journalist who used to cover the wars, but recently took on a new job with some really rich Indians so that he doesn’t have to go back to the desert, but he hates that job.  He is depressed, but refuses therapy, and he self-medicates by getting drunk, really drunk, I’m talking slurred words, squinty eyes, loss of motor function/brain kind of drunk… every night.  But he still has enough brain power to argue whatever his point is by shouting down the opposition.

When I was back in DC last time, I saw him a couple of times and it just was not good.  The guy has serious problems, and I just don’t know how to deal with them.  Or, whether I *should* deal with them.  I mean, I’m no picnic, and I have been known to hoist a few here and there… but, I think I’m a responsible drunk, er, drinker (“hydrate while you dehydrate!”), and at least I’m going to therapy on a semi-regular basis!  I know I have problems and I’m working on them!  But, I made conversation with him, continued to suggest therapy, and just let him rant.

But last weekend, some friends and I had been drinking all afternoon and it was pretty late, but we decided to go down to the bar where I had met this guy for a nightcap.  My friends sat at the end of the bar and I put my coat on the seat around the corner from them so we could talk, and then hit the ladies’ room before I sat down.  I had noticed a drink at the seat next to mine, but there was no one there at the time.  Until I came back from the bathroom and there he was.  Psychokiller, qu’est que c’est!

*heavy sigh*

So, I said “Hi” but then turned back to talk to my friends.  Of course, he kept pulling me back into his conversation, and I said, “I’m sorry, I’m here with other friends and I’m talking with them.”  Somewhere in there, he started on about how terrible his life is because he has seen war and seen people exploding and he went on into gory detail which, just by the way, I REALLY didn’t want to hear!  Finally, I just shouted back at him, “Would you just SHUT UP!”  He just yelled louder and got into more gruesome detail and finally I couldn’t take it anymore and I said, “Would you JUST GET OVER IT!?!”

He shut up.  The bartender, a good friend, looked at me, shocked.  My friends were shocked.  I was druuuuunk.  And angry.  And at the end of my rope.  I felt that I had done as much as I could for this guy and I didn’t want to be his punching bag anymore.  I feel awful for anyone who suffers from PTSD and I know full well that you can’t “just get over it”.  It’s awful, it’s terrible, and I can’t really even imagine it.  But I’m pretty sure going out and drinking yourself into oblivion every night isn’t going to help.  And laying everything down on anyone who will talk to you is just going to piss them off.  I like to help people, but I’ve got to remember that they have to help themselves before my help will do any good.

I just can’t believe I told someone to “just get over it”…

1 comment:

Cathy said...

What you did was set limits. There are nicer ways to do it, but this guy wouldn't have taken a nicer way. Letting him use you as a punching bag is called enabling. You cannot help him until he decides to help himself. You are right to have compassion for his past ... But, he does not have the right to insist that you (or anyone else) give in to his drunken ranting demands.