I feel very conflicted writing about this, but it’s weighing on my mind, and I figure that if I change all of the relevant details it will be ethical to post, and not violate the man’s privacy….?
You all know that I attend an alcohol rehab support group twice a week.
Well, there is a man in the group named “Henry.” Henry is a middle-aged white guy who teaches physical education at a local community college. He really loves sports, and coaches baseball and basketball.
He is also an alcoholic.
When I first met him and learned that he coached these sports, I recoiled. He must be a total meathead! I thought. Ugh, what a jerk; I’ve taught these guys (players of the Big Three: baseball, football, and basketball) and they are generally GROSS.
Henry is not gross. I was wrong about Henry; I was prematurely judgmental.
Henry seems fundamentally self-aware and has a sense of decency and he truly enjoys coaching and being around young people (but not in a creepy way, at all). He identifies with his students. I can tell that he is probably a good coach, because he is skilled, and he cares. And he has passion. He loves what he does.
Well, his wife left him because of the drinking (and, presumably, the host of issues that go along with it).
He went to 60-day inpatient rehab and ended up in my support group.
Henry has adolescent children. Only a few years younger than the young adults he coaches.
I want to shake him and say, Don’t you understand that they will still forgive you…? There is still time. What they want, more than anything, is to believe their father loved them more than drinking. If you can turn a corner on this, you will be a hero to them. They will forgive your previous selfishness and addiction, because they need you and they still need to believe in your love.
If you don’t, in ten years they will hate your guts.
You will lose your career, because, eventually, you’ll miscalculate your inebriation and be drunk at work around your students. Almost every alcoholic I know, despite their best efforts, has been drunk when they didn’t mean to be drunk. And when you are drunk around your students, the parents are going to flip and you are going to be canned.
How is the job market looking for 55-year-old baseball coaches…?
You also went to rehab during the school year on your insurance’s dime. That means that people are watching you now.
You can still pull out of it and save your life and your relationships with the people who love you. Maybe even your wife back. I know she still hasn’t completely written you off because she is willing to do marriage counseling if you stay sober, so at least she’s willing to listen.
It hurts me–which is, admittedly, entirely my own issue–because I see what this man has to lose, and I am rooting for him so hard, and I don’t want him to end up estranged. It hurts me to see other addicts standing on the precipice.
If I ever had a child, I’d like to think that I’d do anything, including fighting against myself at the most primordial level, to give them the love and leadership they need and deserve. This is not a slight against Henry. It is about what my concern provokes within me; this is partially honest concern for him and partially my projection issues. I sit there with this man twice a week, and I want him to succeed and fight so much. Neither of my parents resisted themselves.
I don’t know what else to say.