You always hear the phrase, “Addiction tears families apart”.
Twenty years ago, when I heard that phrase I rolled my eyes. You see, I come from a very close-knit family. Not only my immediate family, but my extended as well. Aunts, uncles, cousins… we all knew what was going on in each other’s lives, and were supportive of each other.
Twenty years ago, I knew what it was like living with an addict. Having an addict as a brother. But then I had my own children.
Being a parent is a game changer.
Your children become your world, and you do whatever you need to in order to protect them. You put your own wants and needs to the side and make sure theirs are met first.
At the time, we lived across town from my parents, but saw them all the time. My kids went to school by their house, and would take the bus there, where I would pick them up after their homework was done.
It was the perfect scenario. My kids got to go to a great school, and my parents got to spend a couple of hours each day with their grandchildren.
Until my homeless, alcoholic, druggie brother was arrested, and came home to live with them.
I love my brother. At the time, I didn’t necessarily enjoy being around him. It was like walking on egg shells. You never knew how high he would be, what would set him off, or how he would respond.
If things went sideways when I was there, I had the ability to grab my keys and walk away. I could choose to not be around him. I could choose to not participate in his craziness. I could choose to not engage.
My children could not.
As a parent, I had to do the right thing. I started having a friend pick the kids up from the bus stop and take them to her house. My parents were hurt. They couldn’t understand why I would do this. How could I take their grandchildren away from them? What had they done to deserve that?
It was hard to sit them down and give them an ultimatum. They had to pick. My brother, or their grandchildren.
I couldn’t change my brother’s habits. I couldn’t ‘fix’ him. All I could do was love him, and hate what he was doing. But, I could protect…