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An Enabler’s Story

Years ago when I lived in another state and before I enrolled in law school I began dating a man who lived downstairs from me in my quadraplex. He was a very successful computer engineer. One day he was unexpectedly fired from his job. He downplayed the incident and obtained another job of equal stature quickly. Then one day he was very late in meeting me for an event. When he arrived he seemed rushed and preoccupied. He said he had been tied up at work. I had no reason not to believe him. Soon after, he asked me for money so that he could make his car payment. I asked him why he needed it and he told me that he had some old debts he was paying off and had come up short that particular month. I was uneasy, but I lent him the money against my better judgment.

Within the next few months things unraveled very quickly for him. I learned that he was a cocaine addict, but he had managed to keep it hidden for years, even from me. I sincerely cared for this man, and we had been in a relationship for a few years at that point. I began attending Al-Anon meetings and open AA meetings to learn about the disease of addiction. In the few months that followed, he had four different jobs, eventually working part-time at a fast food burger place. He parked his car several blocks away from the quadraplex in an attempt to avoid repossession of the vehicle. He had been spending all of his money on cocaine and had not paid rent for many months. An eviction notice was served on him.

At this point we were broken up, but I lived right upstairs and had helped him before. He continued to ask me for money to pay for his car and rent. I started saying no and it was incredibly difficult. He began blaming me, telling me that if he was evicted or had his car repossessed it would be my fault. I leaned heavily on my friends in Al-Anon for support during this time. Then the day came that the car was repossessed. Soon after, he was evicted and asked if he could sleep on my couch. I said no. That was one of the hardest days for me, but it turned out to be the day he got sober. He had been attending AA off and on for the prior months, but that night he slept outside of an AA room, leaned up against the door. When the person came to make coffee for the 7 AM meeting, he was let in the AA room, and he spent the day there attending a bunch of meetings.

He began a sincere program of recovery that day. He has not had a drink since and is now about 15 years sober. He is married with two children and is back to being a successful computer engineer. There was certainly no guarantee he would get sober if I said no to his request, but it was very clear to me he most assuredly would not have gotten sober had I said yes. I got out of the way and he was able to face his disease and recover. I do not take credit for him getting sober, I take credit for getting out of the way so that he could get sober.

The preceding short story was from one of our volunteers.

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