It was my first time in Harvard Square. I sat listening to the street performers and taking in the muggy but crisp breeze. Timothy had short red hair and a fair complexion. He was tall, thin, good looking, but worn. With visible trepidation he approached me. I could see as he took a deep breath and walked over, that his pride was on hold.

The first words out of his mouth were:
I hate asking for help but I’m really f@*ked. You’re beautiful by the way…
I giggled to myself, not because of what he said, but because no matter where I am, they find me. I work everyday with men and women in recovery and I guess that also means when I’m on vacation.

Timothy is broken. (Ex)-con, addict, in denial, but lucid. He leaned over my table looking at the seat next to me but never sitting. I didn’t invite him to, but I listened. I always listen. He spoke of his kids, his bad choices, his drug of choice that continuously takes him for a ride. I asked him about his hopes and assessed his desire for real help. I could tell he’d yet to reach his bottom and when we spoke of it, he laughed and said: when I think I’ve hit my bottom, another trap door seems to appear. The same story I’ve heard many times before. Because the old pattern is still in effect instead of the tools for recovery and healing.

In my eyes, Timothy isn’t a lost cause. In his eyes, he’s nobody. In one conversation I couldn’t convince him of his worth but I did realize that he was put in my path for a reason, and I needed to offer whatever words I could, in the window I was given. I asked him his plan beyond the temporary kind. If I did give him money what would he do with it, and what happens tomorrow when he’s down to nothing again. He told me he would buy an ice-cream. I told him to do what makes him happy and he smiled. A gift is a gift and I wasn’t going to monitor his use of it, but wanted him to think it through; to consider the future and not just the moment. You can’t force a bottom on anyone, they need to find it on their own.

I gave him my dinner money. I gave him words of hope and reminded him he was worth saving. I encouraged him to call his sponsor and reach out for help, and then I got his number to give to an amazing resource I had for him. I told him to answer when the call came.

I hope you answer when he calls, Timothy. The first step to recovery is: When help finds you, answer the damn call.


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