“Eighteen years ago, I was completely naïve to the life my brother was choosing to live but that’s when it all began. From the outside, he was always causing trouble. He was the reason no one had time to give me any attention, or ask if I was okay. I was forced to take care of myself and I held a lot of resentment toward him.
I chose not to look too deeply at what was going on. Maybe I couldn’t because I had to try so hard to keep myself on track, to get out and have a better life. When he was arrested at fifteen and sent to juvenile detention, I barely noticed he was gone. When he would chase me around the apartment with a shotgun, I thought it was normal. When he confronted me about scabs and boils all over his body, I thought he needed to go to a clinic – maybe he had an STD? I had no idea he was doing meth.
Then he had kids, and we all thought that would change him. But then, he would call me begging for money, saying someone was after him and they were trying to kill him. I was thousands of miles away and wanted to protect him and his kids – so I would do anything. I gave him money. That money was to pay off a drug dealer. I had no idea he was on bath salts and that no one was chasing him. At least, not in real life.
Then he was arrested for selling drugs. Child protective services came to take his kids away and my father stepped up and took them in. There were no longer children to protect and do anything for, for his sake. I had no idea they’d find spoons, and foils in his bed. I had no idea he was using heroin.
Drug addiction is a nasty, selfish, and horrific way of life. I grew up around addicts and made a choice very young to never ever open that door. My brother made another choice and has been battling the demons of avoided consequences ever since. He’s stolen from everyone who loves him. He’s lost his children. He’s been imprisoned. He’s been homeless. He’s overdosed. He’s died. He’s been brought back to life. And I was always by his side.
After years of’ ‘never again,’ ‘here you go,’ ‘never again’ I finally made a choice for myself. I decided I do not offer help for him, but for myself. What will help me sleep better at night – knowing I never walked away, or walking away to save myself? I can fix my own broken heart, but I cannot fix regret. I cannot change ‘I could have done more,’ but I can live with tears shed over his choices. I also know I cannot ‘help’ him. I cannot save him. Only he can save himself. So we have dropped the word help altogether.
I am done helping you, brother. But, I am here for you. I will never walk away. It is not our money you are in need of, it is our love. After your last relapse I wrote:
‘Thank you. Thank you for emptying my heart so I can say with certainty, it won’t be me. It won’t be me who funds your final hit. The final and heaviest of rocks, the ultimate bottom. The end. Or will the end be a different story? For every time you are too weak to stay strong, and my heart too empty to go on, I find a way to fill it back up just a little more. I keep walking through the same f—ing door. Please close it. Slam it. F—ing destroy the door. I say I can’t take it anymore – but we both know it’s a lie. If you can’t help yourself, help me. Save me. Save me from having to save you. I want to live a life where the phone rings and I jump for joy. I don’t immediately deploy, my emotional soldiers. Wondering, will this be the call to end it all?’
You’ve been granted every single opportunity. Look around at the world you’ll see. People dying to be like you and like me. Wanting to be free. You take it all for granted and you have no clue. The extent that others would go through. To be able to wake up and work. To provide for their children, free education. While yours are sitting there waiting for dad to figure it out. To finally see, he has everything. Stop with the selfish taking. Save me, from having to save you. Thank you.’
Eighteen years is a long time, and I’ve had a lot of time to practice making space, digging deep, losing and gaining hope, and never giving up. My brother has currently been sober for weeks. One day, it will be for years.”
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