Ordinary Girl posted about siblings the other day, and it got me to thinking. I'm not sure how much I've really said about my family on here. I know I talked a bit about them in my addiction post, but I think that's about it.
So I'm one of 5. Well, kind of one of 5. I mean, I am one of 5, but I am really only one of 3. Have I thoroughly confused you yet? I'll start backwards.
I'm the baby. Then there's my older brother J, who is 4 years older than me (soon to be 37). He's my full blood brother. He's probably the hardest one to write about. I know him the best, and through the years we have both loved and hated each other. I'll focus on him and our life in this post.
I have an older half brother (we share a dad) S, who is 10 years older than me. I grew up with him in my life although he lived with his mom. Then I apparently have another half brother and half sister, both older than S. I found out about them when I was 17. We've never met and I know minimal information about them. I've tried to find them unsuccessfully, although I admittedly don't really know how to go about the search.
Back to J. When we were kids he liked to torment me because I was the younger sister. So I would let him go so far, and then I would do what any sane girl would do.
I'd kick him where the sun don't shine.
Then I'd find myself in time out on the couch, every time. Oops.
He became a drug addict when I was only about 12 and he was 16. At least this is when I knew about it. He ended up in and out of rehab for the next year or so. Inpatient, outpatient, intensive outpatient, court required. You name it, he did it. Family counseling happened, but we were all a wreck. At this point my dad even went to rehab after my brother called him out. Something along the lines of 'if you think it's so easy why don't you do it' so he did. Didn't help him any more than it helped my brother.
When J was 17 (I think) was when he started disappearing for days, weeks. He'd go out on binges and follow around the Grateful Dead (this was shortly before Jerry Garcia died), Phish, and other bands. He got into horrific car accidents, had my parents bus him home, told lies, stole money and stayed high. He'd come home now and again. He dropped out of high school days before his 18 birthday. He has never gone back.
When I was 16 was when I made the bad decisions related to drugs. For a while he and I got along real well, and partied together. This lasted on and off for a couple of years. Right after I turned 18 I graduated high school. At that time J and I didn't get along. At All. Not even a little. We couldn't stand to be in the same room as each other.
One day he called me the C word. I hate that word and I'm sure you all know what word it is. He said it with so much force, so much anger and resentment.
I told my parents it was him or me.
I lived out of my car and slept over at my boyfriends. I couldn't 'move in' with him because it was 3 guys living together and they didn't/couldn't agree to let me and one of the other girlfriends move in. This lasted for a number of months and then the single guy moved out. So the two remaining had their girlfriends move in. We lived in a scary part of town, and the other girl was pregnant. Before we moved out she had her baby. It was an interesting set up.
Anyways, during those couple of months that my truck was basically my home, my parents tried to convince me to come home. I refused. I finally agreed to meet up with them for dinner one night, but I wouldn't go to their house, so they took me out. I told them that I couldn't understand how they could allow him to stay with them; drug addicted, couldn't hold down a job, didn't go to school, etc etc.
Yes, at the time I was still an addict myself. But I worked 3 jobs and was going to college full time.
The problem was that my dad refused to let my mom kick J out. Dad had been an addict most of his adult life, and his mom took care of him and continued to let him live with them whenever needed. So he wanted to do the same for his son.
For me, it was horrible. I didn't see any of them much for a while. I felt that they were screwing the kid who actually was trying to make something of her life. It was very rough times.
Throughout the next 15 years a lot happened. J left town and came back. Every once in a while he'd settle down in an apartment with a buddy and keep a job. Then he'd get bored and pack up and leave again. He ended up spending a couple years homeless out in Washington/Oregon/California. Then he was back with my parents for a bit. Now he's in Colorado, and loving it, but not really settled down.
We chatted the other week when he got worried because Dad wasn't answering his phone. He asked me to promise him something that I couldn't promise, but I couldn't bring myself to let him know that I couldn't promise it.
He wanted me to promise that if one of my kids wanted to live the life that J is living, that I would accept it. That I would be happy and not take issue with it.
I skated around it by telling him that as long as my kids are happy, then I'll be happy. Which is partially true.
But I hope to God, I pray to God they don't ever choose his lifestyle. I see the way it tears my parents up, the way my mom worries and stresses, knowing he's hitch hiking, sleeping God knows where, not sure when he's had his last meal, etc etc.
When he was homeless in CA my mom and I went to see my Uncle, who lives in Long Beach. My parents have paid for J's cell phone since he took off many many years ago, as a way to keep in touch with him. They've had to replace his phone too many times to count (theft/mugging mainly) but I understand why they do it. Anyways, we let him know we'd be there, and we managed to meet up with him. He'd been sleeping on the beach for months.
It tore my mom and I up.
He seemed happy, don't get me wrong, but neither one of us was ready for it. To see the dirty, long haired, sun tanned hippy that he was. He stunk. He was carrying everything he owned in a hiking bag. And when we left we knew he was going back out to the streets.
I love my brother. I love him more than he could ever understand. I fear for his safety, I fear for his life. I fear that if something happens to him we'll never know, it will just one day be silence, and we'll never hear from him again. I know my parents feel this same way, have these same fears. I don't know how they do it.
I just continue to pray that God will keep him safe until he maybe decides to grow up.