Huntress of the Lens


Friday, August 14, 2009

Hotline Horrors, and a dinner that didn't work out like I had imagined

I'm going to break my usual pattern of writing in morning solitude, and give it a try with two people in the room and the TV on. I'll do this because I have a burning desire and I think I can get through the "honey, look at this!" that always goes with TV on and Michael in the room. Sometimes he feels a need to talk to the TV directly, or switch the channel repeatedly, but he seems to have settled on the science channel so maybe he'll occupy himself with that for a bit. Nope, we have to switch. Nightline is on in four minutes, I just told him it wins. Christi brought her own computer, she and I do well in a room together no matter what we're doing, because we both do it quietly. I love my husband dearly, but he requires interaction quite often.

When we went out to dinner tonight I got a call from the AA hotline. There are supposed to be people on shift for every combination of hours I think. Then there's the list of alternates. As far as I know I'm at the bottom of the list of alternate volunteers who take calls on the hotline. We were about to order when I got a call from the switchboard. The restaurant was getting ready to close so there were plenty of empty tables I could move to so I could talk to the lady who needed my help, and assured her that it was no problem to spend a few minutes with her, it's what I do. The operator told me that she had called everyone else on the list and that there were no other names to try.

I identified myself as an alcoholic and asked how I could help her. This old lady didn't give me her name, but she did say that she had been drinking. I asked her for how long, and she said a few days. She asked me if everything we said was confidential, "You know, like from the police?" I told her that what we said here would stay here, and what did she want to talk about. She wasn't interested in talking about drinking or getting sober. She wanted to tell me that she is going to kill her son, how she was going to do it and why.

She wasn't asking if she should do it, or asking my opinion about her choices, she just wanted to talk about doing it and tell me her reasons and why it is the "right thing to do." Her son is going to fight for custody of his daughter who lives with her niece, because he "only wants her social security death benefits from her mother so he can stay home and drink and do nothing." She loves her grand daughter. She'll get sober in prison, she figures she'll have plenty of time to do that there.

I said that if she was going to make such a big choice, didn't she owe it to herself and her grand daughter and even her son to be sober when she made it? She said "Oh HELL no, who can kill their own son when they're sober?" I wonder who can kill their own son in any condition at any time? She told me that she's had a knife hidden in the couch cushions and has thought of stabbing him a few times, but she wants to do it with a gun so that she can be sure it works the first time with no mishaps.

I told her I don't know anything about killing people, I only know about alcohol and how I was able to stop drinking it one day at a time. She said "Been there, done that, heard it all..." and then she was back to where she was going to get the gun and just how she was going to kill her son. I try not to judge, but I was sickened by this. On top of this terrible phone call, they were out of chicken pot pie and I had to choose my dinner from across the room without looking at the menu, and by moving to an empty table I was taken out of the coffee rotation.

When I told her again that I'm only here to help her with problems related to drinking and that I don't know anything at all about killing people she hung up on me. I have to admit what I did then. I went back to the table and called the answering service back to see if they had her number. They were all about anonymity until I told them what the call was about. They said they'd listen to the tape they had of her call and call me back. They did, then they did. Her number didn't come up on caller ID and there's no way to report it to the police. It's out of my hands, and I have to turn it over. I feel powerless. I feel horrible. I feel like I have to reevaluate every word I've said complaining about my own sons, and as though she compelled me to unwillingly consider the act of killing my own child and what that would be like. I can unequivocally say that I am unable to do that. She stained my mind though and it's going to take a bit of prayer and meditation to make it clean again.

Her name is Sandy. That's all I know about her. Please pray for her, and her nameless son. And for me, who had a chance to look at a black mind soaked in alcohol. If we read about that murder in the past tense, we have to know that there was no way to do anything to prevent it. What I want to know though, is why did she call in the first place if she didn't want to be talked out of it?

1 comment:

  1. Oh Laura, those are always tough hotline calls. I dealt with this kind of thing regularly when I worked the domestic violence hotline. It is a very hard thing to have to listen to. But you have to stop and think "there is a reason the universe picked me to hear this tonight" Whether or not you ever know the reason. There is a lot of pain and suffering in this world and some people feel the need to share that pain with the innocent bystander on the other side of the phone. There really is nothing you can do other than pray for that woman and be thankful for the life you have and the relationships with your own sons that you have. I can tell you from working with these people enough times, chances are, she will not kill her son. If she was going to kill her son, she would have done it already and not told anyone. She has the sick thought that she can't get out of her head and she needed to share it. Unfortunately, the universe picked you as the person to hear it. As much as this will probably haunt you for awhile, you must let it go and chalk it up to "another day of service" I know this is easier said than done and believe me, I had to give up my work in that field because it becomes emotionally draining. However, for every sick 1 that you can't save, there are another 5 that you might be able to help.


The fish can fly, the dogs and cats dance together and all the flowers are edible.