I forgot how it goes ... anchored down in Anchorage.
— Michelle Shocked
I listened, transfixed, as the young man told his story. It was one of those train-wreck narratives, one where you want to turn away — to get as far out of earshot as possible — but you can’t.
So you listen.
That I knew this young man, had long admired him for his many accomplishments, made the hearing of his story even harder to take. That I knew and loved his family made it almost unbearable.
He was on the fast track to what most would consider a highly successful career, a manager in the financial sector whose rise up the corporate ladder was meteoric in its swiftness. But buried deep in the recesses of his success was a demon that, when unleashed, would bring him down faster even than his ascension, leaving him at a place all men fear: rock bottom.
It’s a tale told and retold by men and women the world over since the time humans became aware: a serious injury, medication to deal with the pain, a growing dependence on the medication, addiction.
Then came the lies. Lies to a wife — to the mother of his children — who loved him. Lies to a mother whose pride in him was something pure and sweet. Lies to himself.
He was good enough at lying to keep all the wolves that started nipping at his heels at bay for an extended period. You can do that when you’re smart and you’re crafty. But no one’s smart enough to keep a damaged soul under wraps ... not when the damage seeps from your being and entangles itself in the lives of the people who love you best.
Soon the charade became too much to keep up. Skipping out on a holiday gathering for a visit to your drug dealer is not going to get you too many father of the year votes. What it will get you, though, is left. And unemployed. And alone.
With no other options after failed attempts at self-healing, the drowning young man reached out a desperate hand to a place thousands more have turned over the past 60 years.
Started by Judge Hudson Malone and initially directed by Stauffer Moses in 1953, The Anchorage has long been the refuge of last resort for men consumed by their addictions. The kind souls — paid workers and volunteers — who’ve helped those men confront their addictions over the past six decades have heard the young man’s story — and every sordid variation on it — over and over and over.
And yet they never lose faith, never stop believing.
That, then, is how this port in the storm for fallen men has continued to stay open year after year after year. The Anchorage takes these men in for a $40 registration fee and helps them heal themselves — free of charge — for a period of four months. More often than not, “the medicine takes,” the success rate a remarkable testament to the faith-based program.
There are others, though, who fall by the wayside, their addictions too strong and their wills too weak. Undeterred, The Anchorage remains steadfast, its staff willing to spend every remaining donated dollar looking for one more miracle, looking for one more man’s final shot at redemption.
The Anchorage, and plenty of other deserving nonprofits whose existences are focused on souls of the lost, not salaries and trappings, is taking a beating in this awful economy. They’ve cut budgets well past the meat, into the bone, and yet the need for the good that they do never diminishes. I have no personal interest in advocating for any such deserving facility, but it sure would be a worthwhile gesture for any who are able to get in touch (435-5692) and pitch in ... with any money you can spare, with a donation of needed items or to volunteer.
I guess it’s wrong of me to say I have no personal interest in seeing missions of The Anchorage or any of its fellow nonprofits continue. I looked into the eyes of the young man who told his heartbreaking story, a young man who has a special place in my heart. I saw a lot of pain and agony in those eyes.
But I also saw hope and determination. When you’ve seen someone you care about reach rock bottom, those are about the best things you can wish for.
Email Metro Editor Carlton Fletcher at firstname.lastname@example.org.