I’ve sat down about 10 times to write this blog post out and each and every time ended in puffy eyes and a very sore heart. My words here are basically word vomit and probably won’t even make sense. It’s hard to talk about to be honest. You see this isn’t something I like to bring light to too often. Sometimes I like to pretend things played out differently for my brother. Like i’ll pretend he’s still driving his same ‘ol truck traveling around chasing hail damage and calling me up asking me to hit the town in Atlanta with him on his wallet. You see, he did anything for just about anyone. Especially those he loved. There were times i’d call him needing money for lord knows what or I just needed a ride home from the bars and he would be there. Never hesitated, never asked questions, he was just there. God he loved to help others. He was kind, he was loving and he would be there. And if things had gone differently, I feel in my heart he still would. But things didn’t play out differently, so here I am sharing my story on how his addiction changed my life.
Blake is my middle brother and at Christmas in 2015 he came to let us know he had a problem. I remember how hurt my mother looked when she opened up the basement door and walked straight into her bedroom for the night without saying a word. I remember my Dad, God- I remember you guys. My dad looked beatdown, like someone had just ripped everything he ever owned away from him. And I still didn’t even know. We had no idea what was going on, never really knew he had a problem. You see, addiction isn’t a tattoo on someone’s forehead. It lies deep within until it surfaces and by that time it has taken over every inch of their body until they have nothing left. I remember his eyes and how empty they were. He couldn’t look any of us in the face, he was just as hurt as we were.
I remember when my parents dropped him off at rehab number 1. A long drive out to Blue Ridge GA and a quick 30 days. We visited once before he was out and back home again. Things seemed okay, and then got much worse. There are parts and pieces here and between that have become so hazy and some so private i’ll never share details. But just know that God showed us that Blake had a long journey ahead and he was no where near through. He was back on the road in no time and quickly realized freedom and money landed him back at square one.
Years you guys. Years. It doesn’t happen over night. They don’t wake up one day and decide to become an addict. They don’t choose to be the way they are. I know Blake didn’t. He was always the wild one, the one picking fights just to see how hard he could land a punch. The one buying everyone drinks and dinners and driving us all around way too late at night after probably a few too many beers. But he was good. And he still is. But just like he was there for us, we had to be there for him.
Do you know how hard it is to love an addict? Let me put it into perspective for you- Imagine you were just handed your dream car, but it comes with a price. Every time you get behind the wheel something goes wrong. Your ties go flat, your windshield gets busted, dings in the door, then the transmission goes out, and then when you think nothing else can go wrong, the engine blows up- and you’re left with a car that is worthless. You see, when you love someone that has an addiction, every single day with that person is a battle. You are lied to, stolen from, hurt and angered, you’re pushed to your limit and eventually you break down, just like your car. But just like a car, this too can be fixed. You just have to love them.
Blake came to live with us in the summer of 2017 after being kicked out of rehab number 5 ( I think, don’t quote me). We had become pretty close during the rehab stay because he had shut out about every other person in my family and I was there for him. He trusted me. There were a few times I would go and take him to lunch or doctor’s appointments and buy him groceries and just make sure he was okay. And he was. And when he was living with us things were great. He helped, he worked and he was doing so well. But then we went on a vacation and he was forced back to our hometown and things went downhill again.
Blake just graduated from his last and final rehab in January of this year. He has officially been about 6-7 months sober ( Maybe longer I’m not exact) and is doing great. He is working, attending meetings and every time we see him or talk to him he has a positive vibe and looks forward to the future. We never gave up on him and he never gave up on himself.
But I would be lying to you and him if I said it didn’t take years off my life. The constant worry of picking up the phone at 2 am worrying who would be on the other end and what that person would have to say. Were they calling me to tell me there was an accident? Would the last time I talked to my brother be the last? Would I ever see him again? Daily thoughts you guys. Daily.
You see, addiction doesn’t just affect the addict. It affect every single person that loves that addict. The person we knew and loved is gone, and there is this shell of a new person, foreign and strange, in their place. You walk on egg shells around that person, you pray to God every day to just give them one more day. Just one more chance at life. Because they deserve it. They weren’t always addicts. And they weren’t always this way. Most are mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters. They have family and friends who love them. Children who adore them. But they need us. They need us more than we need them.
I wish I could write more. I wish I could tell you every little detail on the last 4 years. But that’s not my story to tell. But what I will tell you, is that if you love an addict- keep loving them. Let them know. I can’t tell you how many times Blake would call me and tell me he just needed someone to talk, he just wanted to feel like someone, anyone cared about him. You can ask my husband how fast I answer phone calls from just about anyone, but if his number ever pops up across my phone you can guarantee I don’t care what i’m doing, where i’m at or who i’m with- I get up and I walk away and I answer.
Love them even when you can’t. Even when you just don’t want to. If you look at them and you see the emptiness I saw in Blake, you would think how could anyone ever come back from that place. They can. But they need your support. So sure, I can’t love my brother sober, But i sure as hell can love him. And that’s what I choose to keep doing. Every single day. Because I believe in him. And as long as he believes in himself, I will do the same.
PS- Why did I choose the obnoxious pic of us 3 (me and both brothers) at ‘Dega? Because those were good times with the old Blake. And there will be more good times to come, we only have to be patient!