6 Months Ago

6 Months ago I watched my brother almost die. I sat next to his hospital bed, held his puffy hands, and prayed. I prayed and prayed and prayed. Selfishly I prayed for me. I prayed that he would find sobriety so I could have him back in my life. So we could make up for the past 10 years we’ve lost. I prayed that he could find enough good inside himself to want a life free from drugs so my kids could be around the uncle that they love dearly. I prayed that he would live so he could find the happiness I found in this life. I prayed that he could live so my dad wouldn’t have to go thru the crushing trauma of losing a child. I prayed for everything I could think of as I sat there an held his puffy hand. I prayed for everything and everyone but him.

I should have prayed for him.

Addicts don’t have the luxury of praying for themselves. They are consumed by the drug and that obsession cancels out any thought of their own well being.  Laying in that hospital bed, my brother felt pain like I will never feel. My prayers belonged with him those days.

Today, 6 months later, my brother is alive. While our relationship is definitely strained, I find myself praying for him daily. My kids and I say a prayer every night for him. We don’t say what we want our prayer to accomplish, we just say we pray for Uncle Andy hoping someday our prayers get answered.

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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.

15 Months

15 months wasted.

15 months clean and sober erased in one moment.

15 months of family and friends, school and normality, gone.

15 months and the needle is back in your arm as the lies spew from your mouth.

15 months later and my father is once again watching his son destroy himself.

15 months later and I hate him yet again.

15 months later and somehow I am surprised. I let myself believe that he would never use again.

15 months later, I’m sad and he’s high.

Here we go again.

The Day I Knew He Was An Addict

My brother and I no longer speak.  I don’t call him and the only time he calls me is when he’s in jail.  I hear what is going on in his life through my father although I wish I didn’t.  One can only hear that someone you love is using heavily again so many times…

The day I guessed my brother was using heroin was a day I will never forget.  It was Thanksgiving.  He walked into the house and I didn’t recognize him.  No one did.  A collective gasp was heard throughout the family as he strolled through the kitchen door.  In moments we noticed a tiny girl following him.  Her hair ragged, her bones protruding, I knew immediately they were on drugs.  My brother announced that they were flying to Florida that day and he needed a ride.  He needed to get away and his new friend needed to visit her ‘boyfriend’ who just happened to be an army Sergent stationed in the same town our mother lives in.

I smelled bullshit and watched as they disappeared into the basement.  I looked at my husband and then my father.  They smelled the bullshit too.

I followed my brother downstairs and found them whispering behind the bathroom door.  They emerged out of the tiny bathroom and I just knew he was on heroin.  His eyes rolled back into his head as I confronted him about being on drugs.  He denied it and said he was tired.  I knew he had been using Oxycontin for an old shoulder injury and he assured me that’s all it was.  At that moment I made a vital mistake.  I believed him.

I let him leave.

My dad drove him and his new friend to the airport knowing something was very wrong.  My stepbrother and I discussed what he was on and I immediately said heroin.  I knew my brother had become dependent on heroin.

Today my dad called me to inform me that once again my brother is using.

I wasn’t shocked but I can say that I was very sad.  I had seen being in jail as his last hope.  His inspiration to get clean.  I wanted jail to scare him.  I wanted his need for heroin to be consumed by his fear of spending the rest of his life in jail.

Unfortunately I’m just a silly girl with silly hopes.

And he’s an addict.

Junk

He’s not gonna die.

He’s not gonna die.

He’s not gonna die.

No matter how many times I say it, it still feels like a lie. Because eventually he is. Eventually he is going to die. And unfortunately, thanks to heroin, it will probably be in the near future.

Being related to an addict absolutely blows. It is a never ending journey of heartbreak and despair. Even when there is a chance that the addict is clean, the journey still sucks because anything, and I mean anything, can throw them over the edge.  Quickly stick the needle back in the arm.

HATE being related to an addict.  I HATE what he does to all of us.  I HATE that every time my phone rings after midnight I think it is the hospital telling me he’s dead.  I HATE that my husband has to watch me shatter on a monthly basis.  IHATE that I yell at my kids when he’s on my mind.  I HATE what it does to my father, the only person who would give his life for him.  And you know what…sometimes I HATE him.

No I don’t.

I want to hate him.  But I can’t.  I love him.  I love who he was before he put that shit in his veins.  I loved him when he made laugh countless times, over and over.  He doesn’t do that anymore.  All he does now is make me cry, over and over, over and over. His life has been overtaken and he is the only one who can take it back.  I want him back.  I miss him.  I look at his picture on my desk every day and I can’t help but let the sadness overwhelm me.  But there is nothing else I can do.  We have done all we could do.  We have walked down this road so many times that our backs are breaking, our feet are bleeding.  There is nothing left to do but pray.

Being related to an addict absolutely blows.

Claws of the Poppy

My brother is living in a shelter.  I am devastated, however a part of me is grasping at hope.  This is the first time in three years that he has been on his on with his addiction.  Usually he is coddled and cared for by some member of my family.  He has been enabled time and time again.  Hitting bottom has yet to happen for him. His addiction has been easy on him.  An addict with a home, food, clothes, shower, and family.  Not bad.  It has only been hard on us, his family.

My stomach aches when I think about the last time I saw him.  He was high.  It was New Years Day.

Seeing him high again six months after the last time I saw him high broke me down physically.  I lost my shit.  I couldn’t stop the tears.  I stopped talking to him in the summer precisely because I did not want to breakdown the next time he did.  I figured if I was not emotionally attached to him I would not feel the hurt I have felt so many times before.  I was WAY wrong.    In fact I think that maybe I should have talked to him, I should have had a relationship with him for these past few sober months so at least I could be a part of his life, but then I think about my babies.  I could not have them around him.  I could not have them begin a relationship with him.

But I always hoped.  Secretely in the back of my mind I prayed that this was it.  He was back.  He was sober. He was my brother again.  He would step in and be my kids cool uncle.  My son’s fantastic godfather.

But he’s not. Walking into my parents house on New Years Day I spotting him on the couch and I immediately knew.  He was gray and he was skinny.  He looked like shit.

It was odd though, because he ate.  In the past when he was high all he would eat was ice cream & candy.  It was one of his tells.  But this day he ate dinner and he could function for the most part.  And then after dinner he disappeared.  He came back, sat down on the couch, and the shell of my brother emerged.

The signs of heroin began to show their disgusting teeth.  His eyes began to roll.  My kids attempting to play with him were ignored.  I knew.  I looked at the Chef.  He knew.  My parent’s knew while they searched his car.  We packed up the kids.

Happy 2009.

It has been three years since heroin began to kill my brother.  My brother, the smart one, the good looking one, the funny one.  My brother the boy who could make me laugh effortlessly.  My brother the goofy amazing athlete.  My brother.  My brother, the heroin addict.  My brother, the homeless man.  I am sad.  I am heartbroken.  I miss him.  I miss who he used to be.  All I can do is hope and pray that somehow he makes it through this.  I want him back.  I want my children to know the boy I grew up with and loved.

My poor father.  The man blames himself.  What parent wouldn’t?

The claws of the poppy sink deep in that first taste and never release.

I need hope but it’s so hard.  How many times….how many calls…how many sleepless nights are ahead of me?  How many years can this go on before it kills my father?  It will.  I know it will.  I can see how much he has aged since this began.  His eyes are sadder now and his voice is quieter.  He is broken.

Fuck.