Group: He said…

It was a new group and we were introducing ourselves; name, brief background.

“I had to leave,” he said, folding his arms in front of him. “She didn’t throw me out but I couldn’t stay. I’ve been living in my van in my parents’ driveway. They were letting me stay in my old room for awhile, but no more; things got a little touchy. Now I stay in their driveway and if I’m lucky they let me use the shower every couple days.”

He was a large man in his thirties. He looked like he could crush a six-pack in each hand. And he looked like he wanted to. He spoke softly with his crossed arms resting on his great belly, his palms clasping his elbows. He continued his atonal monologue. He seemed to have an ocean of feelings he wanted to share but only drops were coming out.

“I have no money,” he continued. “I’ve been paying this lawyer or he threatened to drop me. At work they’re running out of patience with me. It’s just a small machine shop. Between having to garnish my wages, and the police coming there, and me missing time for…” he freed one hand long enough to wave away the end of that sentence. “Let’s just say if I weren’t friends with the owner – my boss – I’d probably be out of a job.”

He stopped talking and the silence was as painful as his words had been. My own route here, to this metal folding chair, in this week-night group of newly separated men and women meeting in this church basement, wasn’t significantly different than his, or the rest of the group.

I felt he was in such a bad place, spiritually, that no positive soothing response would help. Might only make it worse. I wanted to say something to him sitting across from me, just to lighten things up, like, “Hey, man, after the meeting let’s you and me go have a couple beers and then go out a kill a couple people.”

But I didn’t.

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