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Hitting Bottom - A Personal Story

May 2, 2011

4alcmuse-300x228.jpg"We were train wrecks for different reasons, so we were perfect for each other."

by Dan Abshear

About two years ago, my then wife of 20 years decided to falsely accuse me of violently abusing her.  A restraining order was issued against me by her as well, so I was evicted out of my own home.  Soon after that, I was arrested related to these false accusations and wrongfully incarcerated for over a month.

While in jail, I spoke with quite a few men who were abused by the family law system.  Most shocking to me at the time were those men on their way to prison for failure to pay child support.  Most of these men were without income, yet they were convicted of this 'crime."

In April of last year, I spent a week on the mental health ward of the veterans administration hospital in Atlanta, for suicidal ideation, among other mental issues.  They determined I was a drug addict, so I checked myself into the veterans administration substance abuse treatment program in May of last year.

After completing the VA substance abuse treatment program, I was homeless once again.  The VA has a homeless program for veterans, so I entered this program.  They placed me in an apartment with 5 other men, whose lives had been wrecked, as mine had been only two years ago.

Most of the men I encountered and became friends within the VA system were very poor, and older black men.  It's a subculture I was completely unaware of, until this program.  Many had spent a great deal of their lives incarcerated, and many were drug addicts.  However, most of these men are very intelligent, and kinder than your average American citizen.

In less than a year, three of these friends I acquired took their own lives.  Their pain quite obviously was equal or greater than the pain I continue to experience due to being destroyed by my ex wife.  I continue to miss these friends.

Last Summer, while in this VA homeless program, I met a veteran girl going through the program with me.  We were train wrecks for different reasons and therefore perfect for each other. Like me, she is not very attractive, physically, and is homeless, like me, but for different reasons. 

This girl, like many of us, has been abused, physically and otherwise, for most of her life.  She never had a decent lover/boyfriend, she tells me.  I care for her unintentionally in various ways, and she thinks the world of such acts I may do for her.  That does it for me- loving and caring for another girl authentically.  That completes me.  Most men have been programmed to view women, and their roles in our lives potentially, unrealistically.

The VA also has a program for unemployed veterans to work at their hospital for a period of 6 months, tax free.  It's under the table money, which this girl and I both desperately needed.  So throughout last winter, she and I both worked in this program, and saved a few thousand dollars between us.

During that time, a man I met online in Indiana offered his farm house to us there.  Since our time in the homeless program with the VA was soon ending, we took him up on his offer.  This is now were we currently live, with this man in Indiana.

We have no idea what tomorrow will bring us.  We live day by day here, as we did with the VA homeless program in Atlanta.  But we have greater peace now.  We have greater freedom.  And most importantly, we have each other.  It makes each day worthwhile.  Without each other, our lives were vacant, I believe.  Our live our void of any desirable future- without each other.  It's that way with most homeless people, I've discovered.  They are alone.  Completely alone.  This girl and I- we have hope.  And hope is a very good thing in the human life always.

The veteran's administration was very good for me in a number of ways.  Their hospital was top notch, I felt, as a patient there.  I continued to receive mental health therapy from them once discharged from their hospital.  As a former patient caregiver myself, I found the caregivers associated with that hospital exceptionable.

I found the substance abuse treatment I received from them quite interesting, which lasted several weeks.  My undergrad from college is in behavioral sciences, so I was only aware of such programs from that knowledge only, before entering this program.

They spoke of free will frequently during our daily group sessions- virtually ignoring the biological basis for addiction.  That would be the only complaint I have of such a program.  Well, that and their insistence that some God can replace our addictions.  PLEASE.............

I'm also thankful for the VA homeless program, which gave me a roof over my head for several months.  They never really helped me get a job, however.  Yet, they insisted I somehow find a job immediately, or they would soon discharge me from the homeless program.  These threats were tacit and frequent.  This is why it's more comfortable here, with my friend in Indiana, with a place to live.

But the people I met in the homeless program often relieved my pain by providing a unique relationship with each of them.  Such friends were African American males, mostly.  I'm clearly white, yet they fully accepted me, as I did them.

Our backgrounds were overtly different from vocational and domestic paradigms, but our similarities, aside from being veterans, such as kindness and intelligence, is what drew us to each other during our daily lives in this program, with these men.

My girlfriend, who most have ignored throughout her life, I feel, is one of the most intelligent and righteous humans that exist.  After the nightmares I have with past relationships women, my ex wife in particular, this girlfriend is quite refreshing for me.

Like me, she's a bit socially awkward.  But then again, those few people that have existed that have been remotely like her have usually been ostracized by society for such reasons.

We've known each other for about a year, my girlfriend and I, but we made love for the first time only recently.

It was amazing, making love with her- and during a thunderstorm that was occurring at the same time.  I felt something during this night I can only describe as spiritual with her, which I had never felt with a woman, before making love with her this night.

It's my firm belief that people enter our lives for rather clear reasons, once examined.  My girlfriend illustrates this belief.


Also by Dan Abshear

Living in a Car After False DV Charges

MD$ On the Take: My Career-Ending Expose


Scruples - the game of moral dillemas

Comments for "Hitting Bottom - A Personal Story"

Richard said (May 3, 2011):

I'm moved by this man's openness in telling his story, which is neither a bitter rant, or the hard luck story of a professional panhandler. No, he's telling the truth. Not just to us, but he's someone who tries to be honest with himself.

Hitting bottom is a metaphor for 'losing everything'. I don't think anything in this culture is more feared. That's why it's been so easy in this post-Christian new 'first world' system to condemn and ignore the downtrodden, and the down and out. When was the last time you heard anyone remark, "there but for the grace of God go I"? In my childhood this was still a common expression.

I've been there - more than once - so I appreciate his observation that "most of these men are very intelligent, and kinder than your average American citizen."

When a man finds himself down and out he invariably encounters what such old American black men 30 years ago still called "the crossroads". One of the few very genuine moments of truth in this life. Real hunger, really flat busted broke, desperate. A man has to choose between right and wrong, good and evil. At "bottom" you hit the circumstance which makes you discover who you really are: a mortal soul in a matter body. Those who let go of the illusion of being sole 'master' of your fate will realize the reality of God, even if they never believed in a greater intelligent Will than ours.
Either that, or one becomes a criminal, or commits suicide.

Dan is very close to redemption. I must offer one piece of advice. Please think about not confusing attraction to a girl who happens to be an emotional companion in hard times with empowerment. Your empowerment is coming from God. If you aren't sure of that now, you will be, if you live long enough.

Understand the nature of any woman's attraction to a man is some strength or worth she thinks she sees in him which does not come from her. I mean the moment a man thinks his empowerment comes from a woman, she'll start losing interest and probably won't even know why. These are just some of the facts of life a few old black men told me, in my youth.

Henry Makow received his Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Toronto in 1982. He welcomes your comments at