No Good Deeds. Or, How I Learned the Hard Way about Boundaries, and Lost Causes…

I’ve been posting recently about love and gratitude, grief, loss, and friendship. Its been cathartic, and apparently well received if I’m to judge by the feedback I’m getting. So first of all, thank you for reading what I have to say. Its really important to love, be grateful, and to share happy and sad times with those who mean the most to us. We’re human- its what we do. I also feel its important to share with others that we may not know so well. I’ve always had the philosophy that if I’ve got it to share I’ll share it. Unfortunately that philosophy came back to bite me in the ass. So I have difficult things to write about at the moment, not pleasant in the least – but things that need to be said. If only so I can get them off my chest and “on paper” so to speak. Names are changed for privacy.

Over a year ago a friend of my daughter’s needed a place to stay for couple of months. We had a semi-finished room in the basement with a futon and cable hookup – and we’d known the kid for over a year . My daughter’s friends are very nice, mature kids and he was no exception at that time – so we said yes. He didn’t have a job right then, but we could see he was actively looking and he said he would contribute for rent as soon as he was on his feet. He soon got a part time job and was also helping out with things around the house. All seemed well. “Joe” was quiet, helpful and unobtrusive. On the surface. There was a whole lot boiling underneath that we had no clue about. Stuff we found out about later that had we known at the time…. you get the picture I’m sure.

Things went OK for a month or so, then one day in early November my daughter called me on my way home from work – frantic. She’d smelled something funky in the basement and when she went downstairs saw the room door open. On the table was a small scale, a calculation sheet, and other drug associated paraphenalia. He wasn’ t at the house at that time but had quite obviously been firing up a blunt or two in complete disregard for our homes rules and the safety of our family. He showed up at the house shortly after she made this discovery and admitted he was dealing and smoking weed, and doing E. He was also obviously high and was ranting on and on about how everyone’s in boxes, boxes are bad, Jesus is coming, head north to avoid the apocalypse etc etc. And how he was here to ‘Save” us. She was justifiably scared. Her boyfriend had arrived and I suggested that they leave the house immediately and call the police if need be. ‘Joe’ left on his bike just then however. My husband and I arrived home. ‘Joe’ came back and asked to speak to me, I listened for all of a few seconds – that’s all it took for me to realize he was in serious trouble and possibly suffering from drug induced psychosis. I had 911 two thirds of the way dialed – just so you know – but he took off again when I told him I didn’t want to talk to him anymore. We went downstairs, gathered his things and put them in the driveway. I locked myself in my room that night after double locking all the doors and windows – because his parting comment to my daughter was a sad shake of the head and a “Mom can’t be saved.” I’ve watched waayy too many Lifetime Television Movies to be comfortable with that statement. There were no further incidents then, Thank God. He came back and picked up his stuff the next day. We thought that was the end of it, and breathed a sigh of relief. Lesson learned. Charity begins at home. Don’t take on other people’s problems – ever.

We began to hear things at that point. How ‘Joe’ had blown a full ride scholarship (complete with job, room and board) to a prestigious local college by setting off a stink bomb in the college’s chem lab with some friends – and had been expelled. I also found an AIM account on our computer with the alias “I Can Kill Everyone.”, and strange, violent music uploads as well. It was rumored that ‘Joe’ was wandering around town, crashing on friends couches for a night or two and continuing to rant and rave. One night in early December the police showed up at my door, asked if we knew ‘Joe’ as this had been his last known address. Apparently he’d deliberately walked out into traffic and gotten hit by a car and was in serious condition at the regional trauma center. I stated to the officer that we’d kicked him out a month before. He kinda laughed and said he knew why – as he was holding the kids knapsack with all his “stuff’ in it. Did I know any next of kin or anyone to contact? Nope. Thanks for your time Mrs E. Thanks for stopping by Officer.

However, his former youth group leader found out and reached out to him. She became quite involved, would call me occasionally – and she tried to get him to stay in the hospital and be mentally evaluated once his condition improved. He left AMA with a severely bum knee – still ranting and raving. There was one hell of a blizzard the day after Christmas that year. ‘Joe’ was spending that night on a friends couch. His friend’s father woke in the middle of the night to smoke and flickering light in his living room. ‘Joe’ set himself on fire deliberately – 3rd degree burns over 40% of his body (upper half). According to the father, he never made a sound – either then, on the way to the hospital or even when they Lifestar-ed him to the Burn Unit in Bridgewater CT. I heard this from his former youth group leader. He was put into a medically induced coma for over4 months while they debrided and grafted. She wanted me to go see him, but I chose not to. Then he got transferred to a rehab in the Boston area.

Social Services set him up with a place to live, benefits, visiting nurse care etc and he refused to accept it because it was in the Boston area and he wanted to move back here. So, MA being the bleeding heart blue state that it is, MA transfers all these benefits for him back to this area. He’s refused it all, -preferring to ooze and stink all over his friend’s furniture or sleep in the woods. He showed up here just after Christmas this year, 4 am, looking for a place to stay out of the pouring rain. Scaring the you-know-what out of my husband and me. You see, I’d noticed that our garage interior light was on before I went to bed, but I didn’t want to go out in the rain and shut it off. My husband unequivocally states that he shut the lights out when he left the garage. I think ‘Joe’ waited in there until he saw lights in the kitchen (husband gets up early for work) and then he came to the back door. We gave him a bottle of water but had to open it for him, an old bicycle, and told him not to come back. He hasn’t – and I fully expect to hear that they’ve found him someplace dead of an overdose or of exposure. It would be a blessing at this point, certainly.

I’m not writing this as a “Don’t do Drugs” horror story (although this one would do nicely as such I think). But in my/our haste to be helpful to someone, be kind and Christian to another person, we unknowingly put ourselves in an incredible amount of danger. And to top it all off, we are now getting collection calls about his forfeited student aid because we’re listed as last known address. And I’m still angry. Angry at myself mostly – for being stupid enough to think that I could make a difference and help someone else. I’ve realized I’ve got all I can do just to keep myself afloat and my family on course. No Good Deeds go Unpunished. We’re paying for ours – with sleepless nights and jumpiness at noises in the dark outside, with dealing with nasty collections agencies who seem to think I’m lying when I say I don’t know or care where this kid is. We’ve lost the secure feeling we used to have. I said before that Charity begins at home. I’m living by that motto now. I ain’t Sandra Bullock in ‘The Blind Side’. Lesson well and truly learned. Don’t be like me. Obviously, I do much better at rescuing stray animals. I’ll be leaving the stray humans to someone else.


8 thoughts on “No Good Deeds. Or, How I Learned the Hard Way about Boundaries, and Lost Causes…

  1. as a mental health professional, all I can say is life is rarely like the movies; what I read in your post is frightening and beyond comprehension for those not exposed to psychosis — either as a patient or therapist.

    • I work in the MR field, have had some experience with MH. He decompensated quickly, I at least didn’t see it coming. I’m just glad we booted him out before he got suicidal or homicidal. It scares me that he knows where we live though…. Even though hes disabled hes still a complete whack job. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    • And I apologize for the term “whack job”. I try not to stereotype usually. Its hard for us “normal” people to understand how someone who looks normal and can have a conversation can be so seriously out of touch. They look OK so they should act OK, thats the expectation. So there’s that added stigma, and I get that. However, I’m also very angry that I trusted this person and got betrayed – so its very personal. Nobody twisted his arm to do drugs and help has been available every step of the way. Not my problem if its not accepted. Its his own damn fault.

  2. I’m glad you’re safe. For what it’s worth, I crossed that line once, when I was 18, and almost married it. Thankfully, some wiser heads sent my idealistic butt back off to college that fall, and I realized that I really didn’t want to marry a guy who couldn’t get his head out of his heroin syringe.

    • Yeahh, that! I think we all have to make these mistakes to truly learn anything. We are very very very fortunate we lost nothing but our time. And my rose colored glasses. It doesnt work out that way sometimes, and we could have ended up really hurt. Thanking God for good fortune, for sure.

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