Watching Self Destruction

I recently had an employee who got messed up on drugs, and we had to part ways. I wasn’t at peace with it, and it made me examine some things.

I am a firm believer that you get to spend your own life any way you wish. Maybe you have a great scientific mind, but you don’t go into research. Instead you spend your life stoned on the sofa. Maybe you weren’t born with a lot of advantages, but you innovate and work and make a very nice, successful life for yourself. Either way, it’s your life. You get to row, or not row, your own boat.

That said, it is hard to watch self destruction. This is not my first rodeo with it. I am the child of an alcoholic. I watched my brilliant and talented father feed his depression rather than his talents and drink his self esteem deeper and deeper into the ground, until he finally drank himself to death. As he was in and out of institutions, in my 20’s, I faced these issues, and finally concluded that, just as I want the freedom to live my life as I choose, he has the freedom to do the same. It would be wrong to have him committed or “make him” be sober, although there were those encouraging me to do so. (He got “dried out” enough to be clear headed and make his choice again and again.) And if he chooses to live it dead drunk, he has that choice.

Not dissimilarly, my employee, was probably a third generation aid recipient. He had almost no support network, and was surrounded by drama, drugs, and “takers.” He wanted something different for his life. I told him to be something different, he had to do something different. We discussed what it took to be successful, from coming to work everyday to being responsible to being trustworthy. We had that talk. Twice.

And then the girl came. I don’t know anything about the girl. Not even a first name. I do know that when she came around, he flaked out. The first time, he didn’t show up one Monday. Two hours after time to report in, he called and said he just woke up, odd for a guy who is usually up and going at 7:00, weekend or week day, but he said he would be in in an hour. Again, no show. Then said he went back to sleep, and would be in tomorrow. Once again, we had a serious talk about what it took to have a different life than the one he had known.

A couple of weeks later, the girl was back. This encounter necessitated an ER visit on Sunday night, and another one on Monday night. Meth or speed was found in his system, and all behaviors pointed to meth use/overdose/bad reaction. During both visits, after receiving medication and having improvement, he became belligerent with the doctors and left against advice.

My job is to take care of my company, and that means safeguarding all of it, from assets to other personnel. My decision was clear, and I made it. But I wasn’t at peace with it. Then I realized, that it is never comfortable, and as long as you are a caring person, it will never be comfortable, to watch someone self destruct.