Dear Inner Circle,

Outside my window just now a bloke yelled, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for I am the meanest son of a b**ch in this city.” How funny is that?

On my way into the building this morning, I was greeted by a smile that reached into my heart and robbed my brain of any content. A dear man who I have seen through many a ‘dark night of the soul’ was busting to see me and tell me that he hadn’t gambled since September. It isn’t alcohol or any other drugs that bring this fellow down, but the pokies. For years he’s poured what little money he had into those machines and each time it was as if he was feeding his character into them. The emptiness and self-loathing that followed was disturbing to behold. It was not just that he suffered the indignity of going for days without food or needing to beg for a bus fare. It was that he was willing to be robbed in this way. His body shows evidence of deep self-hate, with thousands of scars from deep, untreated wounds. Both of us knew the significance of this meeting, yet we did not need to say a word. His face said it all. He was here and he was ok and we threw our arms around each other because we both knew and rejoiced in it. Afterwards, we told some silly jokes to each other over coffee, his shout.

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