Life Threatening

For 10 years I have been preparing for his death. Over time I have distanced myself from him thinking it would be easier when the heroin eventually took his life. I enjoyed him when he was sober but stayed away when he used. Now I know that I was wrong to do this.

On Tuesday I picked my daughter up from school. My son had to stay after so we went to go get a snack. My phone rang an unrecognized number, and as I answered I felt my stomach drop. The man on the other end announced himself as a doctor. My brother was in the hospital for a severe case of pneumonia and couldn’t breathe properly. They needed to put him on a ventilator. And because my father was out of town, I needed to give them consent. I asked the doctor “Is this life threatening?”

“Yes it is.”

My breath stopped. “Yes it is.” My stomach ached in pain. “Yes it is.” I pulled the car over, told my daughter I needed a moment. “Yes it is.” I got out and sobbed. “Yes it is.” Barely able to say a word in between sobs of pain and shaking beyond control, I quietly muttered into the phone “yes, do whatever you have to do to save my brother’s life.”

I didn’t know what to do. My body just stopped working. I couldn’t breathe. I could’t move. I slowly got back in my car trying not to scare my daughter but she knew. She knew it was him. We went back to school to pick up my son and quickly made our way downtown to find my brother. The ride was horrible. I have never felt so much pain or hurt. Losing him at the moment was unimaginable, yet I had been preparing for it over the past 10 years. How had this happened? I knew what heroin could do to him. I knew. I kept myself away just so I could avoid feeling this way. You know what? I was wrong. I can’t avoid feeling pain when it comes to my brother just because I keep my distance. I was wrong. I was so wrong.

I love him. I love him for who he once was. I love him as an addict. He is a part of my soul and no matter what I want him to live. Please God let him live.

If he pulls through no matter what, using or clean, I will call him everyday. I will text him everyday. I will tell him I love him no matter what. He deserves that. No matter what. 

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365 days wasted

I am beyond devastated to write this post. You see for the past year my brother had been clean. He was part of a drug court program that drug tested him weekly and had him meet with the judge weekly. This, I believe helped him more than any rehab he has ever been in. He had to be accountable for his sobriety or else he would be thrown in jail for his full sentence of crimes he previously committed. He was doing great, working out, interacting with our family, and really seemed to be on the path of a sober life. It was awesome having him back in my life. I believed he had changed. I believed he had fought the devil and won.

He didn’t win though. As I write this my brother is back to the needle. The lies began about two months ago (weeks after he finished with drug court) as his social media posting began to quickly disappear. You see, my brother has a few tells when he’s using. The first is his lack of social media presence. When he is clean and sober he works out and when he works out he posts lots and lots of pictures. When he doesn’t post, we all know the dope is back in his life as his #1. The second tell is his anger and meanness. Normally he is pretty kind. However on heroin he is a complete asshole. My last interaction with him over text ended with him basically telling me to fuck off. I knew then, he was back only a month away from his 1 year clean date.

I’m bummed of course because for some reason this time it was so different. He was so happy and so alive, I thought there was no way he could reach those dark places that call his name over and over. But he did. And just like that my brother is gone. Heroin wins again.

Her Sober Brother

My brother is sober and in my life.

My brother is sober.

He is on his fifth month sober. After a string of events that led him to drug court he found himself in a program once again. He lived there for three months and is now living in a sober house. This time around I have chosen to have a relationship with him. I know the risks of this and I have tried to talk myself out of being in his life but something just won’t let me. I’m not sure why it’s different this time. It just is.

Maybe it’s because I miss him, and the anger I have felt towards him over the past 11 years is starting to fade. Maybe it’s because deep down I hope that my life will inspire him. Maybe I think if he sees that I can find happiness in family, love, and life, maybe he could too. Or maybe it’s just time.

I don’t know how things will end up. I know the cycle of addiction and I know the risk of having him in my life is high and could be destined for failure and pain but something just says that this is what I need to do. I love him and I want to believe so bad that he is on his way to a life of sobriety and happiness. But I also know that addicts have to do it on their own and my brother is no different. He has to want it and for the first time ever in the history of his terrible addiction I actually believe he does want it.

My brother started writing a blog when he found out about this blog. You can find him here at Her Sober Brother. 

Rest in Peace Robin Williams

Robin_Williams-Esquire

My brother has been in jail for the past three months and is out on bail waiting for trial. I have talked to him once and I heard from my grandpa that he is doing well. I keep my distance because 10 years of his heroin addiction has taught me too.

Today when the news of Robin Williams suicide hit the interwebs I couldn’t help but tear up. A lifetime of addiction and depression caught up with him and enough was enough. The disease won and Mr. Williams lost.

I think anyone who knows or loves an addict knows that the sad ending of Mr. Williams life is a distinct possibility of an ending to their loved ones life. When people in the spotlight die by way of addiction all it does for me is make me feel like my brother is next. Sometimes the choice to live isn’t present and there are no other options.

We all hope that this ending isn’t the ending to our brother’s story. We hope they make it. But I think deep down we know that the grim reaper stands on their shoulder every day of their lives.

And I am so sad that my brother has to live that like. And I am so sad that at 63 Mr. Williams couldn’t live in this world any longer.

I hope that he finds peace. I hope that his family can find peace. And I truly hope that someday we will live in a world where the disease of depression and addiction no longer exist.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman

When the news of Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s overdose hit the web, my stomach turned. My brother’s face immediately appeared to me in all the PSH news feed and everything I read about the father of three’s overdose felt like I was reading about my brother’s own death. Knowing an addict does this to you. Each death attributed to heroin should have been my brother’s, could have been my brothers, and still could be my brother’s.

Addicts don’t live long and happy lives.

Sober for 23 years and he dies with a needle in his arm and 70 bags of heroin in his house. 

Heroin doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t give a shit if you are white, black, famous, poor, married with kids, or a boy who never grew up. Heroin wants you dead. From the first use to the last, the only goal of heroin is to kill you.

When I was growing up I always knew that heroin was a death sentance. I saw Trainspotting in 1995 and the dead baby scene sealed the deal. I would never ever do heroin. I did other drugs though and luckily I made it through the haze. I grew up and left my experimentations with drugs behind.

Others are not so lucky. My brother was not so lucky. After a soccer injury my brother’s doctor prescribed him oxycodone for the pain. He became addicted to the pills and when he couldn’t get any more refills he started buying them on his college campus. His habit was expensive though and when a ‘friend’ introduced him to the cheaper version aka heroin he indulged. That choice has cost him the past 10 years.

Heroin addiction is so hard to understand. Even coming clean doesn’t really mean you are clean. That desire to use never goes away and the addict battles that desire daily. It’s not their fault. The drug takes over the brain and they have no choice.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman had no choice. That lingering pull of the drug never went away and the battle he fought daily to stay sober ended up being a losing battle. The heroin won, it rarely loses. Image

RIP Phillip Seymour Hoffman 1967-2014

 

Crime & Heroin

One of the many things I’ve learned from watching a heroin addiction unfold is addict becomes synonymous with criminal over time. Most addicts do not have a trust fund backing up their habits and if they do usually they blow through it in no time at all. Heroin addiction is an expensive hobby.

My brother moved back after the holidays. He was in jail over Christmas and when released moved into a sober house in the hood. I was reluctant to see him but the house moved into was close to my own so one morning I decided to meet him. He was gaunt but not gray. We went to my gym and worked out. It was all so surreal for me. The truth is that until this day, I had not seen my brother in over a year. He was in and out of jail, in and out of college, and in and out of addiction. I had previously chosen not to see my brother to protect myself and my family. If I didn’t see him regularly then hopefully his death wouldn’t hurt me as much as I believed it would.

And then he moved back. He was in my neighborhood and I felt like he needed me. He needed to see that life was good for me and it could be good again for him again. I  limited my visits with him not because I didn’t love him but because I didn’t trust him. Having only been clean for a month or so I still felt like he was hiding something. I still felt the criminal aspect of his addiction peeking through. Being around him made me feel like I always had to watch my purse or worse, my back.

My intuition was right.

My brother is and always will be a thief, a liar, and an addict. This time he crossed a line and burned someone I love very much. He is now a full blown criminal.

Once again I will not see him. I will not talk to him. I let my guard down with him. I will not make this mistake again.

Once again he chooses crime and heroin over family.