This is a guest post.
My 42 year old brother is a “recovering” alcoholic and drug addict. He still smokes dope, however, and has “a few drinks now and then.” For years, I knew he had a drinking problem. But, it was not until our Mother had a heart attack, in 2007, that my suspicions about his drug problem were proven to be true.
It was Thanksgiving. We were at his house. That alone was a new experience. After our mothers heart attack, he seemed to come around a bit more. Especially, after she made him executor of her will. He was very talkative and acted under the influence. He backed me into the corner of his bathroom and tried to get me to take a small purple pill. He told me it was “Ecstasy” I told him, “no.” And said, “What are you doing? I have kids, Mom is sick and you are doing drugs? On Thanksgiving no less?” It was not mentioned again.
My brother was always the “Golden Child.” My mother always has been a stoic passive/aggressive sort. So, I knew, even if she picked up on his bizarre behavior that night she would never question him or acknowledge it. She has always been an enabler. Even with my deceased father, who was an alcoholic. He would yell, she would remain silent. He would throw things, she would remain silent. He would scream at us, she would remain silent. It did not occur all of the time. You just never knew when. But when it did occur, it was usually after he had been drinking.
Rewind to 1997, when my children and I moved in with our mother. It was after my older brother, who was living with her, committed suicide. She found him. He was in his bed. He shot himself in the heart. He was bipolar , had not seen his children in years and was severely depressed. I was going through a separation at the time and thought it would, temporarily, help both of us if we moved in with her. One year turned into fourteen years.
During that time, my younger brother was rarely around. If he was it was usually on holidays, but he would quickly leave. I remember my older brothers funeral services. No one could find my younger brother. Everyone was searching for him. My mother could hardly stand up in her grief over her oldest sons death. About fifteen minutes into the service, in stumbles my younger brother. He was drunk out of his mind, yelling and making a fool of himself. Even then, our mother stayed silent . I believe it was right at that moment that I knew how serious his addiction to alcohol was. Because who, in their right mind, would be selfish enough to put their grieving mother through such an embarrassment and heartache?
My older sister lives up north, so she could not be around for our mother much. By moving in, I took on the emotional burden. No one else could be there for her. Not the way I could anyway. After about a year, I did try to leave. I tried several times. But, each time my mother would tell me I would not be able to make it. I would not be able to afford it. Nor, would I be able to do it on my own with three children. And when I would tell my sister, ” I needed to get out. I need to move on with my own life.” She would say things like, ” Why? Mom likes having you and the kids there. Who will she have to talk to?” And the guilt set in. So did my eventual comfort and dependance.
Back to my brother. He is an awesome sales guy. He achieved great success. He was raking in six figures, the four years prior to our mothers heart attack. I think, because he came across as successful, outgoing and with many friends, maybe none of us could believe his addiction problems were so extensive. Actually, we did not even know just how financially successful he was, until he lost it all in 2008. He called crying to our mother one night about his job and problems he was having. He asked her to come over and talk to him. But, she came and told me. She said did not want to go over there. So, yes, I offered to go. But, I asked her to come with me. She said, “No.” So, off I ran – to the rescue.
It was a long night. Trying to reason with a drunk and stoned sobbing man is one of the hardest tasks. I mostly listened. But, having worked as a nurse in treatment centers before, I knew anything I said at that time would be moot. So, I stayed long enough for him to come down. Long enough for me to understand him and for my words to make sense to him. In the end, he agreed he needed to go into a treatment center. I told him I would make the arrangements the next day, as he had to tie up some loose ends at work.
During the time I was there, our mother never called to see how he was or ask what was going on. When I returned home, she stood in the kitchen talking about some letter she received in the mail. I told her that her son was in a bad way and needed help. That he needed to get into treatment. She just looked back at the letter and kept asking me questions about it. Never once asking anything about my brother.
The next day, I made arrangements for him to go into treatment. He wanted to go out of state. So, he flew to California and he was gone for one month. When he first arrived there, he was in a controlled environment. But, two days later, they sent him to another center. That center, come to find out after he returned, was not very controlled at all. It was more like a day treatment center where clients were free to come and go as they pleased, with curfews. He worked his salesmanship skills on them from day one. Telling them that it was the “economy” and “work stress” that brought him to the point he was at and that he did not need to be so supervised. Plus, I am sure his insurance program may have had something to do with the transfer.
When he returned home, he looked rested and sounded optimistic. But, he also acted a bit bi-polar. Going on about the Indians, religion and “signs.” I knew it would be a work in progress. I just supported him. He went on disability. He had back problems for awhile. But, actually, he did not want to return to the high demands of the job and his doctor agreed; it would not be good for his over all health.
Four months later, he lost his home to foreclosure. I left my job to help him move all of his stuff out and move into a friends house. All in under 24 hours. After two weeks, he asked me to take his cat. His roommate did not want him there. I bonded with his cat when he was in rehab. I put weight back on him, as the night I went to the “rescue” the cat was skin and bones. There was no cat food in his house. So, I took the cat and was happy to do so. Little did I know he was so needy and whiny.
One month after he moved in with his friend he realized it was not a good situation. His friend and him were always pot smoking buddies. So, I helped him move again. This time, in with my mother, myself and my kids. I was leery about this, but believed at that point he was clean and sober. About a week or two afterward, he had a beer. Then another day some wine. He said, ‘ I can have a glass of wine now and then. It is not like I can’t drink at all.” I did my old, “One leads to two and so on, when you have a addiction problem.” But. I knew what I said would not matter. I knew then that he was not ready. That he never was. He smoked even me with his sales pitch that night I went to the “rescue.” He just wanted to get away from work. Before he went to rehab. he had no intention of quitting.
During the time he was living here, the drinking built. Once a month, then twice a month , then every week, He would go out and come home falling down drunk. He would talk to our mother and she would just laugh and laugh. She always though he was so funny. I would look at her like, “are you serious? Your son is stoned out of his mind. He has major issues!” Sometimes, he would even be nasty. He would make snide comments to me, but then laugh. Make sarcastic remarks, then smile. He would make a rude comment to our mother, then follow it up with. ” I love you mama” and then give her a little pat or a hug. And she would laugh. Mind you, he could not hug her, or tell her he loved her, if he were not under the influence. He would, on occasion, be mean to her. At one point, he just went of and was screaming at her, “You are a liar. You are just a liar.” Her , nor I , did anything but look at each other. What was the point? But, the next day, I spoke with him. I told him that the way he treated her was not right. He was apologetic. It lasted a few days.
He would go outside and come in smelling like pot. He would sometimes even light up right there on the lanai, with our mother in her bedroom. My kids in there rooms. I confronted him. But, it did no good. I just started hiding out. I would retreat to my bed room a lot, when I was not with my kids. A prisoner of my environment. I had to survive.
Five months later he moved out. He moved in with a friend of a friend. He left the cat with me. His roommate was a bartender and big party-er. He stayed there a five months – before he moved back in with us. Before he did, I told my mother I could not handle the drinking etc;and that I did not want to be around it, nor did I want my kids around it. I did not want her around it either, especially because of her age and health. Unfortunately, I was unemployed and had no way to move out on my own, as I clearly stated I would if I could. She said , “No. You are not moving out.”
So, five months ago he was back. There are still times when he gets a drunk on or is stoned. But, this time it took a few months for a good – mean drunk. A couple of months ago he came home trashed. I did not, for some weird reason, even know he was that far gone. Not until I said something that he took offense to and he went off on me. He got up in my face and screamed at me. He pointed fingers and stared yelling at both me and our mother. Our mother shook her head and started running off to her room. I told her I would not be left with him and be put in the position once again to clean up the mess and be threatened. That he was her son and she needed to deal with him. He backed us both up into the corner of the kitchen. He is about 5’8″ and 230 pounds. He was pointing his finger and would not stop threatening us. He blamed us for his drinking, “being around you two.” That did it.
I told him I was done. I tried to get him help. That he could try to blame us all he wanted for his addictions. That he could make all of the excuses he wanted, but that the real problem was him. I told our mother, “You need to step up now. He is your son. Look at him and tell him he has a problem and needs to get help.” When she just turned and walked away towards her room, I left the house to go out front. I called my sister and left her a message telling her she was part of this family and needed to know what was going on..I was crying, screaming and livid. The next day, she called.he sounded shocked. Shocked that he would say things he said. She said several times, ” I don;t get it.” Then, near the end of the conversation , when I thought she “got it,” she essentially said, “well maybe it is okay of he just has one or two drinks, or smokes a little pot now and then.”
Yesterday was my sons 18th birthday. My brother decided to go hang with some friends at the last minute. My mother, son and I ate. I was a little upset that my oldest daughter did not drive up for her brothers birthday, but rather had a friend down and went out to dinner. I mentioned it to my mother and said, “I am done,” then I went in the bedroom to take a time out.
Ten minutes later my brother must have returned home because he opens the door without knocking and said, “why are you in a bad mood?”
I said, “why would you say that?”
He said, “who are you mad at?”
I said, “I am just a bit frustrated with everything right now.”
He said, “are you mad at me”” and he voice was getting louder.
I said, “well it is just Austins birthday and…”
That was all I remembered saying before he began screaming at the top of he lungs and accusing me of having been in a bad mood all day. Which was the farthest thing from the truth. He was not even around me all day.
I got up to walk out of the room and he blocked the door and would not let me out. I said, “please stop yelling, It is Austin’s birthday.” I tried to get around him to get out, but he pushed his big belly in toward me to back me into the room. I looked over his shoulder and saw our mother in the kitchen just leaning over the counter and look in, but not saying a word. I said, “let me out of here.” Then I yelled, “Get out of my way.” He did not moved. He got up in my face and started pointing again and screaming. I looked at our mother again. Nothing. Somehow, eventually, I got past him. I said, “I am not doing this,” and walked toward the kitchen. He came after me screaming and making hurtful, rude, and abusive comments. He put his face up to mine with his hands up in the air and started belittling me. Our was mother right there watching. She did not say a word. Not until my son came out of his room. after I started yelling back.
“Why don’t you both stop yelling. Why can’t you just talk to each other?” my son yelled.
My son was never there for any of this behavior before. He had been in his room playing video games before this incident. So, he really knew nothing of what was actually going on. But he was right. We all agreed he was right. When I then told my brother, “why do you come home after drinking and do this?”
He screamed, “I only had a couple of pops.”
Now , I know, with an alcoholic ” “a couple” means more than a few and – sometimes- a few too many. He walked off screaming and started banging something. Our mother stayed leaned over the counter and just shook her head. She stared telling me, ” he came in and I told him you were in a bad mood.”
I said, “why would you do that?”
She said, “because you were and he wanted to talk to you about the dinner you made.”
I said, “I just went in the room ten minutes ago to regroup. We all get our bad moods. But, that does not make it right for him to barge in and start screaming at me and blockading me in the room.” She said nothing.
I left and went to buy a pack of cigarettes. I guess quitting for a week and a half was good while it lasted. I am not comfortable. This is a toxic environment and I have no way out right now. I am still unemployed. So, I guess I will just hide out. I will take good care of his cat. But, I have nothing more to say to the golden child or his confidant. But, my son’s 18th birthday I will always remember. Oh, just like Christmas eve of 2010, at midnight, when my brother started yelling and screaming at me before he left for the night – and my mother retreated to her room.
Wait, I take one thing back, I will have something to say to them; If I am ever in that position again, if he ever gets in my face, raises his hands, screams at the top of his lungs and humiliates me in front of one of my kids, if he is ever under the influence and starts his crap again – I’ll have 911 on speed dial.