I guess I basically have been an avoider of feelings for the majority of the year since we lost my brother in January because starting to typing and write this had me unexpectedly tear up and feel some pain of the loss again. I didn’t expect that, because I haven’t been “upset” about it lately. We hadn’t been close in so long, my most recent favorite memories of time spent with him were when I saw him during my college days and that’s when I remember him being the most “normal” and that was around 2002-2006. I honestly don’t know if he was doing a lot of drugs around that time but he looked his best and acted the most normal, so I try to remember him that way.
Last January was INSANE. It was just insane. I took part in the inspirational, life changing and heart warming Creative at Heart Conference, got one of my most favorite and trusted friends Katelyn James to sit down with me and help me back to Jesus because I had avoided religion for SO long out of traumatic life experiences that had swayed me away. Literally, hugs and tears and back to Jesus with her…life changing moment. She’s good like that, that woman was put on this Earth to do big things, more than just take pretty pictures 🙂
No more than a couple weeks later I had a HUGE blog up about Reuniting with God, shaking and breaking my blog stats and bringing in more emails than I could ever imagine. I felt the love, and in the same day, I had a “friend” email me and tell me she never wanted to speak to me again. I answered graciously and still spoke in love to her knowing how broken she is and felt a huge unexpected sigh of relief as a rush of negativity made it’s own decision to leave my life.
Ellie had a horrible fever the following night and we had to rush her to the ER and hold her while she got sick on me and all over the place…and then the next day?
My brother was found dead of a drug overdose. After years of waiting for the call, we got “the call”…and it’s strange how you can expect it but never at all be prepared in anyway.
Does this sound like a roller coaster yet? It felt like one.
I fell to the floor screaming because I had almost gone in December to see him in jail because I knew his birthday was around then and Mike remembers me telling him that he may not even be alive much longer, it was my chance to say something and at least say goodbye. But, I didn’t, because he always caused us so much pain with his addiction that I decided to stay with my little family instead.
January was hard. My “HAPPY NEW YEAR” and fresh beginning was a mess. It started out so positively and turned into event after event but you know what I did? I took his story and I told the truth. No matter who in our family wanted to sugar coat it, I felt like being honest was the best policy to help and connect with others suffering not knowing whether their brothers, or dads, or mothers would wake up the next day. It was worth all the sharing and all the emails that helped others through the horrible time that is having a family member with an addiction.
Our brother would have been 39 on his birthday this year, December 19. Our baby is due 5 days after that date…and when we realized that we were determined to think positively and remember that “Just like after every night comes a new day and after darkness comes light, after a painful death comes new life.”
I’m not going to say memories of him were great for the past decade, he was a mess. The first time Mike met him, he was in the hospital from dehydration after doing drugs, drinking and not eating. I refused to bring my little girls into the house where he lived because they come first and I won’t have them around drugs or anyone with an addiction, which sadly is a good chunk of my family. I will always choose being a good mother first and I hate that he never could clean up enough to get to know them or even get to know the adult me.
But looking back, it’s almost been a year and it’s really strange to describe or nail down how I feel about it all. When you disconnect from someone in your life for so long because you know you have to for your own health and safety, I think you disconnect from feeling a lot of future hurt and burden, too. When he first started overdosing (but not to the point of passing away, just lots of hospitalizations) ..I was SO devastated and broken. I remember going into my bosses office, one I ADORED and admired and crying to her and she changed my entire life and probably saved my sanity that day. She and I talked about toxic family members and how there is a point where it doesn’t matter if someone is blood, you can NOT DRAIN the quality of your life to please them, stay connected with them, etc. I was so sick of feeling obligated to bad addicts just because they were family. First of all, family is not always blood, I have friends that are more family. When family chooses to abuse and abuse and abuse themselves over and over forcing EVERYONE to clean up after them and take care of them, that’s abusing the others, too. I decided not to stick around for it and it changed the quality of my life.
Remember this quote: You can not light yourself on fire to keep someone else warm.
Don’t feel guilty if you disconnect. The little girls I raise now need a strong, healthy mother and they’ll have just that. Not someone who is ridden with anxiety because of dealing with jerk family members all day long. My husband, he matters. My family that actually IS there for us and hasn’t burdened their family with addiction and being a perpetual mess. Am I saying people with addictions can help it? No..we’re talking about people who we have TRIED OVER AND OVER TO HELP. And my brother was that person, rehab after rehab. Sometimes you have to let go, and we did. But with this new life in December we will be able to focus on something positive instead of the birthday of someone who let drugs get the best of them despite everyone’s help and efforts through the years. She will be our LIGHT and our sunshine during a time we may have been a little more down.
There are a lot of different perspectives of those who have lost someone to drugs but it’s SO nice knowing you’re not alone when you feel a little bitter about it together, and I’ve forgiven and I’m at peace but isn’t it nice to have someone speak honestly about it instead of sugar coating it? It’s a relief to connect with others on this level. Thank you all who have been so supportive this past year.