I’ve been having a bit of an odd day. Just now I had to deliver a stern lecture to my alcoholic neighbor on the meaning of private property. Our side by side front doors open out onto a small concrete porch, and stairs which we share. On one side (mine) there is a wicker rocking chair, elephant plant stand, and various other porch-ly things. On his side there is nothing. Back when Rosie lived here, she also had a bench on our side of the porch, and our neighbor formed the habit of coming out and taking his ease on it when the weather was fine, perfuming the air all around with stale alcohol fumes. If you happened to be trying to enter or leave the house while he was there, he attempted to draw you into long, meandering conversation, from which it was difficult to extract yourself without being blatantly rude.
Thankfully, he’s the kind of drunk who mostly just eventually collapses into a sodden heap when he’s had enough, not the sort who becomes, say, violent or loud, plus whatever vomiting goes on has been kept inside his own house. So he’s pretty much harmless, but annoying. I had kinda hoped that when Rosie moved and took the bench with her, he would either buy his own seating for his own side of the porch or stop sitting out on the porch so much, but instead he just moved into my rocking chair.
All of this I was willing to let go. He’s old, he’s sick, I didn’t want to sit out on the porch all that much, I can always go to the back yard if I want fresh air, or use the back door if I’m in a hurry. However, when I came out this morning to find that he had taken it upon himself to rearrange my porch more to his liking, and that a couple of odd bags of sidewalk salt I’d had in a box by the door had disappeared, it was the final straw. So today when he started calling to me through my open front window from his seat in my rocking chair, I went outside, and let him know, gently but firmly, that I would very much appreciate it if he would leave my things alone. I did not care how he felt the porch should be arranged, they were my things, not his, and also I wanted my bags of sidewalk salt back. I had to repeat myself several times before he seemed to understand.
In the midst of all this, he tried to convince me to feed him some of my dinner by telling me how good it smelled. I told him (the truth) that I had only made enough for myself, and that I had already eaten.
Part of me thinks that if I were a better Christian, more like St. Francis or Mother Theresa, I wouldn’t mind that this guy is really, really irritating, and has no proper sense of boundaries. I’d be happy to feed him, and listen to his long, drunken ramblings, and maybe at some point I could help him find the 12 step program or other assistance he needs to find healing and hope. However, the other part of me is not comfortable welcoming this person into my home, particularly when I am the only one there. I doubt that he would intentionally hurt me, but people who are continually drunk or high are not trustworthy people. I know addiction and addicts, and I don’t need any more of them in my life. I am not this man’s savior. Moreover, I think that unless or until an addict truly hits rock bottom, they will never truly be willing or able to change in any meaningful way. And sometimes the most loving thing you can do for an addict is to tell them that their behavior is not acceptable.
What do you guys think? Am I being mean to the annoying drunk guy, or just keeping healthy boundaries?