Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Story of a Boy

This is the story of a boy. He has given me permission to share this story.

My brother’s fall into drug addiction began when he was 13. It started with smoking pot. At the time I had a hunch that he was doing it, but as a high schooler myself with friends who smoked pot (although I was never really interested in it), it didn’t seem like that big of a deal. The people I knew who smoked pot were really laid back & easy going. They had a sort-of “whatever...” attitude about life. Nothing was a big deal. You’ve never heard a story of someone who died from smoking too much pot. It just seemed like something he started doing & in my mind it was basically harmless: my brother is a pothead.

Well, it’s harmless until one day you realize it’s not just pot. One day your world flips around & you realize that this pot smoker has turned into a cocaine user & a drug experimenter. I don’t think any of us knew exactly how bad it was until he was arrested with a needle & a spoon in his pocket. He was 20 years old. He had gone to a short-term rehab facility in our hometown a couple of times before this for prior emotional & drug issues, but this arrest ended up being what got him to go to a 30-day program out of state.

The couple of years since then have been cycles of rehab, home, arrest, rehab, etc. When I was 10 weeks pregnant, he was arrested for stealing, possession of heroin or Oxycontin & paraphernalia. He entered a long-term rehab facility shortly after. I visited him when I was 25 weeks pregnant & then saw him at Thanksgiving & Christmas when he came back home with a friend from rehab for the night both days. It’s strange being able to chronicle his rehab experience around my pregnancy. I’m sure it was strange for him seeing me with no belly, a minor belly & then a huge belly. In a lot of ways, though, since I graduated high school & he fell deeper into drugs, it’s gotten more normal for us to continue life apart. One thing about drugs is it definitely causes you to lose focus on anything other than what gratifies you at the time & the people who you can manipulate to give you what you want. I am neither of these things for my brother, so I end up being on the outside of his life in many ways.

My parents are a different story & one I don’t feel the need to share much about on my blog. I asked my brother’s permission to share about him. I have not asked for my parent’s. I will say this, though: since having Isis, I definitely understand how incredibly heartbreaking it would be to watch your child go deeper & deeper into something that you can’t seem to help them out of. I understand how hard it would be to fight the desire to pick them out of their struggles & put them on their way to a new & better life. I know that my parents are learning to let go & to set up boundaries with my brother because at this point, it’s best for him to learn to be on his own. It is a long road & one I believe they will still have many bumps to deal with, but they are doing what any parent would do - the best they know how. I am able to set up boundaries with my brother that they are not emotionally or physically able to set up right now, so we find ourselves in different places a lot of the time, but we are still family & this addiction affects us all.

The reason I share all of this with you is because it affects me on a daily basis as a mother. I am still learning how best to handle this when it comes to Isis. I haven’t got it all figured out yet & I’m sure I never fully will. I am learning how to balance my fears of my brother’s addictive behavior & manipulative tendencies with my desire to allow Isis to know her uncle - good & bad. I cannot protect Isis from the world. There will be people she will meet through life that have a range of behaviors. I must learn how to help her demonstrate grace & love, while still maintaining healthy boundaries. I am reading Boundaries by Henry Cloud & John Townsend & it's helping a lot. I’m learning how to love my brother & do what is best for my family. I’m learning that my immediate family is no longer my mom & dad & brother - my immediate family is Lewis & Isis & I have important responsibilities to them first. I’m learning how to accept other’s decisions, but still maintain my right to make my own. I’m learning how to love with freedom & humility.

I am not where I need to be yet with this situation or many others. Neither are my parents & neither is my brother. But I do believe that we are all learning. I do believe that there will come a day when God will heal my family & heal my brother. I believe God is stronger than addiction & much bigger than our failures. I believe that God still sees this beautiful boy & is still enamored by his creation. My brother is currently on 2 years probation for a recent arrest, but he is also living in an apartment on his own & has a job. There is hope. There is grace. There is also freedom & choice, but there is healing that is still possible.

This boy is worth more than he knows.

And this boy will one day realize it.

I have disabled comments on this post because I write this just to share & to save for myself. I'm not looking for comments. But I do know that this situation is more common than people think & if anyone feels like they want to talk to me about it or share their own story, please feel free to email me.

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