The sad stories aren't necessary to talk about the themes which they support. My family is tumultuous right now. I've always lived in a kind of bubble, free from the horrors my siblings had faced, and the bull that still occurred. I was left a little scarred by the near tangible absences in my childhood and the abuses I experienced--being a sensitive kid. But I never felt the pain of a neglectful mother. My mother loved me very much. And for all the craziness that happened around me, she was so strong. And then Jim came, and his love permeated my wall of hesitancy and guilt--Dad issues. I've never been much good with transitions. But through every transition, my mom and step-(now adoptive)dad were there for me. Mama and Papa. Through my bipolar messes, they helped me pick up the pieces--never judging or condemning me. It was always about the next step. My parents aren't the type to dwell on the past. The point of that really long paragraph: Although my family is a little jacked up, my immediate family protected me from much of the drama.
But I'm a grown up now.
My brother needed his family. I'd heard of his struggles in Texas, but there was a strong disconnect. I didn't know him. My biggest fear when he came home, was that I would love him--I would become accompanied and comfortable with him in my life, and then I'd watch him fall apart. There's nothing harder, really. Watching someone you love fall apart. And although that was a thought it my mind, I still wasn't in touch with what that meant to me. But then I watched him fall. He slipped first. And I wanted to be done. I wanted to back out completely, because I knew what came next... and it would be hard. But when I really had to, I tried to step up. I've listened to calls that I'm thankful I didn't have to make. I've heard my sister cry. I've seen my mother question herself, which has been hard. She always seems so confident and sure. I've seen Jim play a very new role. No one put a deadbolt on the door for me. My bipolar shit pales in comparison.
But we're dealing with an addict. Addiction is a deadly, deadly disease. It maims judgment, causes you to say things you don't mean, and it teaches you to lie to yourself and those you love. And here's the thing: I still have it easiest. I'm not the one making those hard calls. I'm not the one installing locks in the doors and rewriting the rules of my home. I'm not the one who has been berated on the phone by a crazed and false version of the brother whom I love. So I've tried to be strong. I've tried to speak kindly to my mama, who is conflicted and suffering while her clinical mind beats down the mother within her. I've tried to thank my papa again and again. I've tried to listen to my sister. Because there is nothing to say. We're all well aware of addiction and are well-acquainted with the mental health community. We know what's real. We know what to expect and what has to be done. But that doesn't make it hurt any less. Kayla feels so strongly. She feels everything on a greater scale than I do. The pain of others so greatly affects her.
And I've allowed myself to be woken up in the night. And I've talked my grandma down from many an anxious state. And I've faced locking him out in the rain or letting him back in. I've ignored him when he knocked on my window when he came home after his clearly-set curfew. I've handled situations my grandmother is too weak to face. And all the while I've suffered in my own way. But it's my responsibility, I think. Because everyone else is dealing with a very different part of his addiction. They utilize the powers they have, and I'm discovering the ones I have. And it's sad, but it's comforting in a way. I'm finding myself in this. It's such a cliche, but I'm building character. I'm looking for my boundaries--for what will drive me over the edge--and I haven't found it yet. I'm a lot stronger than I ever knew.
Today I picked up a homeless man. I was driving Kyle to school, and I probably wouldn't have done it alone. But I decided if I was strong enough to watch my brother die, then I was strong enough to give a guy a ride and buy him a cup of coffee from Burger King. And I'm learning that the career I've been considering is so much better suited for me than I had even known. Mental health is where I belong. I think all of this would have pushed me one way or the other.
But I love my brother so, so much. And I don't know where he is. And I don't know what he's doing. And I don't know if he'll ever come home. But I do want to know that he's okay. But I can't. I can only hope. And Kayla said it best: Now hearts are breaking. And the only way to build up a muscle that has been injured is the let it rest, and then use it again. It needs to practice. I need to love people I've never met, and to care about the people on whom I've wished ill. I need to feel compassion. I need to build my heart up again, because otherwise it's going to sit there and it's going to rot. It will become bitter and will stink with a putrid hatefulness that will permeate my whole body... my face. :/ And I just can't let that happen. Because I'm responsible for making sure that doesn't happen to anyone else. While they're handling addiction, I'm going to play lifeguard. I don't want anyone to slip under. I can't lose anyone else.