Lesson learned…

Twenty-three years ago today, my oldest brother Steven died from a grand mal seizure in a detox center caused by withdrawal’s.  My mother had flown out the night before to visit both of my brothers who had moved to Colorado about a year earlier. My middle brother M was getting married and my oldest brother Steven had moved into an apartment. He was a long time abuser of drugs and alcohol. He knew my mother was coming and desperately tried to get himself together before she arrived. It was not going well. I guess it dawned on him he was going to need help, so he checked himself in to detox.  My mother arrived that night, spoke with him on the phone and told him she would see him in the morning. She was going to make it happen no matter what. He died that night alone in his bed. They did not discover him until the early morning. My mother was devestated. She blamed herself. I can clearly remember having a mom before Steven’s death and after Steven’s death. The “after” mom was not the same woman. I miss the “before” mom.

I remember my father calling me, crying so hard I could barely make out what he was trying to tell me. My first thought was…I new this call was coming.  My first feeling? Relief and then an assault of crippling guilt that I felt relief. My brother was not going to suffer anymore because make no mistake he suffered like so many of our addicts.  My parents were not going to cry and wonder where he was and how he was doing. They would not have to take any calls in the middle of the night. They would never have to pick him up at the police or pay for another lawyer. I was so young and immature that I truly thought everyone’s suffering would end? What the hell was I thinking?

I have wondered if God tested my faith with J. Forcing me to learn a lesson that I could not grasp at the time. I had no hope for my brother. The only brother I new was the one that tortured my parents and the rest of us by his behaviors. I thought he was selfish and if he loved us he would just stop. Now I realize, where there is life there is hope but I had given up on him long ago. I didn’t want to have hope…I just wanted it all to stop.

I don’t believe that addiction is a choice anymore. Maybe that first initial experiment with drugs or alcohol is a choice, but at some point for many a switch is thrown and it is not about choice anymore, they are sick. Many of us experimented with no consequences…why do some fall directly into a downward spiral into hell? Who would choose to live in hell? It has to be a disease.

I think I cling to hope with my son because I gave up on my brother. I realize now I let him down. I was 8 years younger then he was, I would like to blame it on that but I am not sure that is fair. I think I just wasn’t ready to forgive. I judged and condemned my brother. There was no room for hope…and for that I ask God to forgive me. Lesson learned.


About madyson007

I am a mom of 4 who thought she was home free when my oldest son went off to college. My serious blunder? Genetics and being naive or maybe just plain stupid.
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13 Responses to Lesson learned…

  1. Annette says:

    Well first of all this was a heart wrenching post. Second, I can so relate… I have a younger brother who is lost out in his own world of addiction and illness…both physical and mental. It wasn’t until my own child got lost in the grips of this disease that I found any compassion for him. I have recently been in touch with him because of ours mom’s passing…I feel a brother blog coming on. I have blogged about him before, so it would be a sequel. Bless your heart for sharing this part of your story. I can only imagine after suffering through that kind of a loss , how difficult it would be to detach or let go of your own precious boy. This is such a crazy, fine line journey we travel.

  2. Barbara says:

    I remember when we first chatted on Tom’s site (remember that?) you told me of your brother. This is a devastating story. I think prior to J’s disease (I agree with what you said on it) you were like the majority of people out there that didn’t understand, plus you were YOUNG. I hope you don’t carry the guilt anymore, I think back then it would have been rare to understand addiction, we didn’t have the information or the means to get it back then. We can’t lose hope for our sons, as long as they are breathing there is hope.

  3. HerBigSad says:

    I can identify with so much of what you have shared. I hope you have forgiven yourself – so many of us experience these same feelings and thoughts. From time to time on this journey, I certainly have! You were young and you had not yet had any reason to learn about this. I often say that I have learned way too much about subjects that I wished to know nothing about: drugs, usage, methods, testing, court systems, good and bad rehabs, manipulation, the disease process, the paraphernalia, the side effects, the damage both to the addict and collateral damage to the family. There is a huge learning curve to this disease. You couldn’t have known. I’m sorry you had to learn both with your brother and now with J. Be good to you, you are a good mom and a good friend. I pray that since you have shared this, that your heart will feel peace. Hugs!

  4. onemomtalking says:

    Dearest One, I hope you do not blame yourself for anything. I am learning that “Blame” is a useless word in so many situations. So is “guilt.” You did what you could, felt what how you felt, knew what you knew. You were young and there is no reason you would have known any different at the time. Then was then and now is now. You are doing the best you know now, just like you did then. I understand the feeling you describe. My dad drank and was suicidal when I was a teen. Sometimes I wished he’d succeed – so I wouldn’t have to live with the constant nervousness of when that phone call would come. Anyway – You’re a good woman and a good mom and I’m sure you were a good sister too. I’m so sorry about your brother. {{{{HUGS}}}}}

  5. Deirdre says:

    I am stunned and overcome with sadness….Your story is so very close to home. I will share it with my 23 year old addict son… Please don’t blame yourself…you were extremely young and you loved your parents, and saw their never ending suffering. Your brother was distant and older….Your perspective at that age is totally understandable and normal. I think you are honoring and loving that lost brother by caring for your son now….You are wiser, more knowledgeable, more compassionate to the addict. May you and I both see the day of full healing of our sons and witness Light in their lives that warms up the world, and our hearts. God deeply bless you. Deirdre

  6. Gal says:

    It is so hard to be the sibling of an addict. You musn’t blame yourself for what was a very natural reaction. I’ve seen a lot of parents get to that point. An addict in the family is no picnic. Embrace the wisdom that terrible experience allows you, and your son will surely benefit.

  7. notmyboy says:

    I often think my own children would have a similar reaction if (God forbid) my son were to od and die. Both of them are disgusted with their brother. They have little to no interaction with him. Now that he lives in Florida, they act as if out of sight, out of mind. It breaks my heart, but I get it completely!

    I pray you are able to lay this all down and walk away. What a burden you’ve carried. I am so sorry you had to experience such childhood pain. It explains a lot of the “save him” reactions you have towards your son. Now, if only I could figure out what my problem is. Ha!

  8. Syd says:

    I am really sorry. Such a sad thing for all concerned.

  9. Dee Dawson says:

    I am so sorry to read this. It’s so very sad.
    I, too, lost a brother. He was 19 and what I called a “druggie”. I was 15. I can relate.
    My mom has never been the same.
    Even after 23 years I’m sure talking (and writing) about the experience is extremely painful, and I’m sending hugs and prayers your way.

  10. beachteacher says:

    I’m so sorry about your brother. I’m sure it makes what you’ve gone through with your son even more tender and worrisome than if you’d never experienced that. Sending you a cyber hug too….

  11. Momma says:

    So sorry to hear about this. Don’t be too hard on yourself. This has given me a new perspective on my own two sons, one addict, one the critical older brother. It will change a family forever, no?

  12. Terri says:

    My little brother would have been 42 today. He died at the age of 16. He and another 16 year old boy died because my brother was high and drunk and hit another car head on. Addiction is an awful disease.

  13. Lou says:

    We only know what we know… someone told me that, meaning we are doing the best we can with the knowledge we have at the time. I had to learn compassion and humility the hard way, Until you see addiction up close and personal, it’s hard to understand the way a person changes.

    What a painful memory, and I completely get that about your mother.

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