In Part 1, I wrote about finding out that my brother is addicted to heroin.
I’m crying as I write this and it is difficult to explain the extreme and visceral response, but I’m as sure to cry when thinking/talking/reading about it as I am when cutting onions.
My brother and I didn’t really grow up together. He’s technically only my half brother even though we could pass as twins if we were the same age. He’s my dad’s son from his second marriage. His mother “loved” me, but was too stupid and/or too jealous of me and my dad to actually treat me nicely (I used to pretend I was Cinderella and she was my wicked stepmother). She coddled the shit out of my brother, though, while I bounced back and forth between my mom’s house and my dad’s house.
By the time my mom moved out of the state and I spent most of my time at my dad’s house, he had divorced my brother’s mother and she retained custody of my brother. As I said, she coddled him, and he chose to keep living with her because he is lazy and selfish and dependent. These are traits that have nothing to do with his drug habit. Whether it’s nature or nurture, I can’t say — I just mean that his bad habits don’t excuse his bad personality traits.
We grew closer when we both visited my dad’s house on weekends while I was in college, but since then, I only see him a few times a year. We love each other, very much actually, but we’re just not integral to each other’s lives. I go months without talking to him. I try to be there for him, but it’s like my best friend from college – when you don’t see each other every day, it is really easy to lose touch.
I provide all this background to try and explain why I was so surprised that I was so upset. Obviously having someone I love be addicted to heroin was sad and shocking. I just didn’t expect this sickening knot to form in my stomach every time I think about it. I felt guilty for feeling so badly – like I was trying to get sympathy or attention or something. Technically, my brother being in rehab has no direct effect on my life. I could make the logical argument that is has a great effect on my dad’s well-being, and he is a frequent and important part of my life. But all of these logical arguments don’t add up to the hurt and internal torment I have experienced, am experiencing, will experience.
I feel bad writing that. I feel guilty. Isn’t my brother the one going through the hurt and torment? Isn’t he the one deserving of sympathy, not me?
Then, the more I think about, hurt turns into guilt and guilt turns into anger. Why should I be hurt and feel guilty about it? He’s the one doing this to himself, to my dad, to his mom, to our family. He’s the one who stole things, who forced my dad to miss work, to be in court, to forcefully remove my brother from our home. My brother is the one causing all this. He’s not hard working, or nice, or grateful, or thankful for any of our help. He’s angry and resentful. This isn’t fair to us. Fuck him. He doesn’t deserve our help.
That anger goes on. It grows. Then it cycles back into sadness, grief, and guilt.
I can’t remember anything else that has made me feel any emotions this strongly. No break up, no death. I have trouble explaining it. I guess that’s why they call it a family disease?
Just in case somebody got to this post who is struggling with addiction, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is a good resource to find treatment.