Before you read this post, I want you to know, I’m okay. Really, truly. I’m not in a heap on the floor as I write this. I’m up from the heap, with a certain clarity, and now I need to write this. But not because I am not coping. It’s my WAY of coping, to finally express the reality of what drugs has done to my family. It’s not an attack, it’s not a plea for help. Please don’t feel obligated to read this if you don’t want to.
There’s a small child in me that wants to say, “I hate drugs. They’re mean. I wish they never existed.”
I don’t say that, though. I know it’s an oversimplification. I know that it’s far more than just a bad thing coming into our life. I do still wish it, though. I wish drugs never happened to us.
Being the sibling of an addict is different than being married to one, or being the parent. (All are awful, and there’s not contest here, that’s not my point.) But as a sibling, you are losing the addict to his addiction, and you are losing your parents to the addict.
You live under constant, awful questions. How would it feel to go to the addict’s funeral? Will he go to prison again, or be beaten up in a parking lot, or plow his car into a tree? You wonder if he’ll live under a bridge, if his own child will one day disown him. Will you gather in a hospital room over his drug ravaged body one day, saying goodbye? All the stories you know, all those people who carry these tragedies, will you be one of those people one day?
But it doesn’t stop there. You haven’t just lost your sibling.
Your parents are never the same after drugs come along. Even if your parents aren’t enabling the addict, they are different. They carry the weight of grief in their eyes, and it drags them down, down, down. You don’t get the happy version of them. You get to know it’s always in their mind, this wish that the addict was better. It is a shadow over every other happy moment in life. You’ll never be enough to make them happy.
And if they are actively enabling the addict, then that’s a whole new mess. You have to watch helplessly, as they repeat the same things over and over. You battle the constant urge to make it personal. The rejections pile up, the times when it seems like choices are being made and the squeaky wheel gets the grease. You are left to deal with life on your own, because they know you won’t go off on a week long bender and end up in jail if you get shortchanged emotionally. You’re responsible, you’re fine, you don’t need them the way the addict does. So, the portion of their attention and involvement in your life that would be natural, that bit that would be beneficial and enjoyable to both of you, that part you always assumed would be there– it’s now redirected to the addict.
So, you get angry.
Then you feel guilty, selfish, terrible, horrible. Then you feel pathetic.
The only person who really gets this is another sibling. You band together, holding on to each other, not knowing what to do with this disaster happening. Somehow, you are on the outside. You can never fully understand their pain, you’re told.
And they can never fully understand yours.
So, that’s it. That’s what it is like on the inside of the outside. It’s not something we want to talk about. I certainly don’t. I don’t want anyone to know how bad this hurts. I don’t want my pain to make someone else’s worse. But I can’t heal from wounds I won’t acknowledge. I get that now.
And that’s what this is about for me now. Just healing. And that can happen. We’ll look different, we’ll bear scars. But as long as there is life, there is hope, and that is what I will hold on to. I will hold on to it for all of us.