When my brother was very young, doctors diagnosed him with ADHD and ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder). So what was the first thing they did? They gave him some kind of drug. Doctors prescribe these medications which are often some form of amphetamine, such as Ritalin, Adderall and Vyvanse, causing him to constantly believe, "Something is wrong with you, and you need medication to be normal." When he was old enough to realize that this made him feel like a zombie, he refused to take it. He became sneaky, hiding the pill under his tongue till the nurse would dismiss him back to class and then spitting it out in the hallway. He began self-medicating and experimenting with whatever he could get his hands on. He became what I like to call an "opportunist." Things escalated quickly and at the age 15, he was a full-fledged addict. He woke up every day on a mission to find his next high and nothing what going to get I his way. He never stopped to think how this was affecting his younger sisters.
1. He was my first friend, my first betrayer and my very first enemy.
My brother is 16 months older than me. I felt lucky because I had my very own personal playmate. We were inseparable until the switch. Suddenly, my closest friend who I loved so dearly became a stranger, and I was replaced by the addiction. I got a job the summer before my freshman year of high school. It was at a local pizza parole and under the table because I was only 14, so I barely made $50 a week. One day, when I got home, I noticed my stash was missing from under my bed. I had thought that was a good hiding place, but now I know that's the first place they look. It was only $20, but it was my money. I earned it, and it was all premeditated. I was enraged and felt so betrayed. At that moment, my brother became my very first enemy.
2. He violated my privacy.
I walked in the house from school one afternoon, and nobody was home. When I went to my room, I couldn't help but gasp. It looked like the S.W.A.T. team had ravaged through all my belongings. My bed sheets were peeled back; clothes were ripped off the hangers and scattered all over. My stuff was everywhere! Once I took inventory and started putting things back, I remembered a .5 of marijuana I was saving for later that I had hidden deep in my closet. He strikes again. He was not looking for anything specific, it was pretty much anything he could find that would feed his addiction. I learned early on not to leave any object of value behind, or it would be stolen. I couldn't have nice things. My room was fair game. I felt violated and that my privacy had been breached. I was bewildered and wondered how he could do that and show no remorse. He wouldn't even admit that it was he who had ransacked my room.
3. He compromised my safety.
Thanks to my brother, I have met an array of interesting characters. When the only common goal of my brother and his friends was to get high, I realized their friendship had no real core values at all. He would bring sketchy people in the house when our parents were out or asleep. I was 17, sitting on the couch watching TV when he walked in with a foul looking man. That may sound harsh, but it only happens when you have made the decision to neglect your health and abuse your body. The second thing I noticed was the gun on his hip as he sat down next to me. He pulled it out of the holster and placed it on the coffee table. I'm not going to lie; I was a little nervous. This armed stranger proceeded to pull out bags of pills along with stacks of cash which he began to count. My brother sat on the other couch, drooling over the drugs and money this guy has on him. Our parents worked very hard to provide their children with a shelter and a safe place to come home to at night.
You couldn't follow one simple rule, "No friends or strangers in the house when I am gone." Instead, you risked my safety for the off chance he might reward you, with narcotics for your outstanding brown-nosing. Did you not notice how uncomfortable and frightened I was?
4. He robbed me of my childhood.
My sister is six years younger than me. I was about 12 when the separation from my brother emotionally kickstarted. My sister was at the age of curiosity, and her mind was absorbing everything, as was mine. I began to protect her childhood. During the after-school charades, I saw my sister walking toward my brother's room, and my gut was screaming at me to intervene. I derailed her path and lead her to the backyard. Once I had her occupied and self-entertained, I went back inside. I opened the door to him and a "friend" cutting up cocaine. What if she had seen that? I called the cops, told my mom and went to work. I found out the police didn't show for four and a half hours, by that time, he and the drugs were long gone. I had seen things I shouldn't have during these crucial years of growth, but she didn't have to. I wanted my baby sister to have someone to look up to. I bet he never thought that his decisions would mold me into who I am today.
5. It hurt me, too.
It was his life, not mine. It was his addiction, but what about the aftermath? He didn’t think about anyone around him, he was blinded by his cravings and chose to ignore his conscience.
But witnessing my mother collapse to the ground and succumb to pain is what devastated me. She watched another attempt to give you a better life fail, and she ended up back at square one. She felt completely defeated, and all I wanted to do is take away her pain, but I couldn't help her because no one knew how to save you from taking that road. Every time you told us it was the last time, we would get a phone call. I was 18, already moved out when my mom called me one day to told me they found you in field folded up like a piece of origami. When I got to the hospital to see you, the entire left side of your body was not responding and you could not hear, I was finally able to see terror on your face. I made the mistake of assuming this would scare you straight. I was shaken; I really thought mom was going to tell me you were dead.
I started conditioning myself to receive that call to confirm the drugs have finally won the battle. Shortly after this occurrence, my brother was back to doing what he knew best. He has overdosed six times. I still have hope that one day he will see he is strong enough to overcome this addiction. But I call it “empty hope,” because you still hope that one day he will wake up and see how beautiful life really can be. But I stripped myself of any expectations that he will get better because you are always let down. He has made that one decision multiple times and chosen to go back down that path. So, instead, I have come to expect the worst and hope for the best.
6. He is loved.
There is not a day that goes by that I do not think about him at least once. “Nobody loves me,” resonates in my mind considering how many times I have heard him and others like him say it. This is a lie. He hates what he has become, which is even worse. I know a lot of people that he worked for who compliment his work ethic and willingness to learn. The people who have chosen to get to know him love him. I wish he would stop thinking that he is not loved or wanted because while we may not agree with his choices or lifestyle, we don’t hate him. We must choose to love the person underneath and hate the addiction. All we want is for him to maximize his potential and fulfill his purpose. I love him. We all love him. He needs to learn how to forgive and love himself again.
My brother is a good person. He brightens everyone's day by making them laugh. He truly has a heart of gold and would give the shirt off his back to a complete stranger. He has helped an elderly woman cross the road and aided another to put groceries in her car within the past year. His soul is childlike. I believe the mind of an addict stops progressing the time the addiction started. I wish he saw what we see in him.
This is where I have to give it to God. I have forgiven him for the things he has done to me. I have prayed hard with many tears, pleading to the Lord to show me what I can do. Do you want to know what he said? Nothing, just give love. Only He can save him.
Have you seen my brother’s soul?
If so, can I have him back?
The Addict's Sister.