A reoccurring theme has presented itself in the tenure of my brother’s heroin addiction. For the past 5 years, my brother has spent Christmas in jail or rehab. This year, it seems it will be jail. I got the call today. He’s in jail. I wasn’t surprised. He’s been living with a co-dependant who has supported his addiction for the past year and a half. It was only a matter of time.
After I got the call I realized that more than once my brother has spent Christmas in jail. I read through this blog and a journal that I write in to confirm this realization. 5 out of 5. He’s spent 5 Christmas in jail.
It got me thinking that somehow, subconciously he is still in there. I’m not sure if this will make sense or not but I’m going to try. Since my brother’s addiction began, he has spent 1 Christmas with my family. He was high, and gave my 2 year old son a pair of 10 year old Burton snowboarding pants, tags on that were obviously stolen. Since then, he hasn’t been to any family holidays. Every now and then my dad will have him at one of his holidays but if my kids are coming, he doesn’t. We never want to take the chance that my brother is fucked up around them.
Heroin isn’t a fan of family Christmas.
Which is what leads me to believe that somewhere, way down, deep inside, the old Andy still exists. The Andy who used to come to all the family gatherings and play cards, tells stories, and have fun. When Christmas comes around, the old Andy momentarily battles the demon Andy (my junkie brother), realizes that the only family he has is heroin, and instead of spending Christmas with heroin, he somehow lands himself in jail or a hospital for the holiday. To me, it’s like the old Andy is subconsciously punishing himself for his addiction.
I know. I’m reaching. Addiction is addiction. Jail is part of addiction. Living with a co-dependant psychopath who feeds you pills and drugs all day is a part of addiction.
I just hope he’s still in there somewhere. I hope someday we get the old Andy back. I’m not sure we ever will but at least for now, I can hope. I can hope that someday he will be in my house, with a family of his own celebrating with mine.
A sister can dream…
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
I 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.