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Dear Little Bobby,
A musician/former friend of mine has been struggling with heroin addiction for the last few years. He has lost almost all of his friends, strained his relationships with his family, sold all of his musical gear, lost his house, and has lost so much more. I have always wanted to help him, but I have not wanted a heroin addict in my life so I’ve never been sure how to help.
He recently reached out to me and said that he has been getting better. He says he has been clean for over a year and that he wants some help making music again. He also asked me for a small amount of money and promised me that it was not for drugs. He said he would pay me back soon. I want to help but I don’t know if I can trust him. Any advice would be appreciated.
—Wanting to Help in Texas
That can be a very difficult position to be in. You say you want to help and that you are not sure about trusting him. Feelings like those can seem to be in direct opposition to each other.
I have had two different friends become addicted to heroin, and each time I wanted to help. But I was only able to help somebody if they wanted my help. One “friend” pushed me and everyone else away for years, and each time I reached out to him and told him that I love him, he basically told me to fuck off. Not only was he dealing with heroin, he was dealing with anger, guilt, fear and so much more.
I am definitely not an expert on heroin or even addiction—despite the alcoholism that runs in my family—but I can tell you that your friend needs help. Ask those close to you what they think about the situation. Do you have any way of verifying that the money you lend him would not be for drugs? Does he have any close friends or family that you can reach out to, in order to verify his current condition? Do you care about not getting the money back? Are you concerned about not helping someone who is asking for help? Or are you more worried about giving a drug addict money that could be used to further his habit?
I would like to tell you to trust your instincts, but our instincts can sometimes be wrong. Heroin is not something to fuck around with. My advice is to weigh all of these questions, search your heart and investigate whatever you need to if there is verification that needs to be done.
In the end, you might decide that you need to help him by NOT giving him the money. Only you know what your heart is feeling.
As for helping him by making music with him, I would say: First things first. It is a good sign that this person WANTS to make music, but let us not get ahead of ourselves. The heroin has to be dealt with. To be successful in life, the heroin needs to be left in the PAST. And from what I hear, that is very difficult to do. But it can be done.
Please reach out to others, like friends, family and addiction specialists, in the same way that this person is reaching out to you. We all need help, in one way or another. Best wishes to you both.
—Little Bobby Tucker
“Help me if you can I’m feeling down, and I do appreciate you being ‘round” —The Beatles, “Help,” 1965
Dear Little Bobby,
I went to a karaoke/goodbye party recently and was caught off guard when I was tapped on the shoulder and turned around to see my former boss offering his hand for me to shake. This guy fired me a few years ago and I almost lost my house as a result. I’ve been angry at him ever since.
I shook his hand to be nice but it made me physically sick and I had to immediately leave the party. It has been years since the firing and I’m still angry at him. What can I do about this anger, so that next time I can karaoke in peace?
—Still Angry in Austin
Dear Still Angry,
Anger is a poison which usually harms us more than it harms the person at whom we are angry, yet human nature often wants to hold onto that anger, even when it directly hurts us. I have been visiting a meditation center here in Albuquerque for many years and it has truly helped me deal with a lot of the anger I have been carrying around since my childhood. But it is a process, and sometimes it is a very long process.
In my 30s I began to realize I was still very angry at one of my stepfathers from 25 years earlier. And since I was just beginning to realize it, I had not yet done any of the work that I needed to do on myself to reduce and hopefully eliminate this anger. So I began counseling with a friend (we talked many, many times about my childhood, trying to work through it). I began counseling with a community of folks at the meditation center I attend (they have weekly classes about eliminating anger, ignorance and fear from our lives). AND I began counseling with myself (which involves meditating, yoga and practicing forgiveness towards others, especially towards myself and my stepfather).
I have also used my music as a way of facing this anger and expressing it in a way that heals me as opposed to harming me or others. This process has been ongoing for almost five years now, and I have seen much improvement. I have even forgiven my stepfather, more than once. And weeks or months later, I realized I needed to forgive him AGAIN. This is the path to forgiveness. Even though it is a very wide path, sometimes we find that we have strayed from it.
There is work ahead of you if you want to eliminate this anger from your life. I suggest doing that work as soon as possible. Try to put yourself in this person’s shoes (even if it is “obvious” they are in the wrong). Try to have compassion for them and for you. The center I attend teaches us to view each person—every friend, enemy and stranger—as our former mother in countless previous lifetimes. Even if you do not believe in reincarnation (I am not sure if I even do) this can be a powerful exercise for helping us to love others (and thereby not be angry at them). But you must first be open to the POSSIBILITY of forgiveness (and already seem to be) and then find the methods to help you forgive (meditation, classes on compassion, writing poetry/music, etc.) and then put those methods into practice.
I think that you will find many benefits from doing this work on yourself. It will also benefit the other people in your life, so that the next time you can shake hands, smile, wish the person well, and then karaoke in peace!
—Little Bobby Tucker
“I don’t want this anger that’s burning in me, It’s something from which it’s so hard to be free” —David Gilmour, “Murder,” 1984 (a song about the murder of his friend John Lennon)