My mind is on a myriad of things, but mostly my brother, Bob. At 52 years old, he is the eldest of three brothers, and my last surviving immediate family member. The middle brother, Jim, died over 4 years ago of a heroin overdose.
For the last 30 plus years, Bob has seemed lost and out of control and has turned to alcohol to cope. Sadly, he now finds himself on life support in the Critical Care Unit at Christian Northeast Hospital.
I am struggling with a wide range of emotions. On the one hand, I have sympathy, empathy and compassion for him (poor Bob), and on the other hand, I have a lot of anger and judgment towards him. “Why did you do this to yourself? You need to grow up!” And I feel sorry for myself too for having to go through this challenge.
For a long time, Bob viewed himself as having a high IQ, talented, and capable of achieving anything he put his mind to. Unfortunately, as he got older, and life dealt him one disappointment after another, he chose to drown his sorrows in liquor and adopted a numbed out, partying lifestyle.
Addiction is a real thing and something I am very familiar with, both personally and with both of my brothers. Jim tragically died of the heroin overdose at 44 years old. He tried to make a life out of gambling when he got out of prison in the Fall 2011. I too have had my share of experiments and luckily have grown out of those patterns–perhaps due to my two brothers’ examples.
I’m told Bob’s alcoholism has gotten to the point of severe cerebral atrophy (decrease in brain matter). He is unable to walk without assistance, and he has had 2 instances of aspirations since 11-7-16 whereby he got food matter into his lungs, thus needing to be put on a ventilator.
On a positive note, Bob indicated recently that he was willing to try to recover and get help for his addiction. He has been without a cigarette and a beer since 11-7-16. With his future unknown this is a ray of light!
From all accounts Bob’s addiction ramped up when, after a night out of shooting darts, he tragically found his long-time girlfriend, Cathy, dead on the bathroom floor, with an exploded lung. This tragic event left a permanent scar that he’s masked by staying numb with alcohol.
Cathy had a breathing complication due to years of smoking and continued to do so even though oxygen was needed to breathe. It is crazy the stuff addiction will make us do to ourselves and others.
Assuming he gets off of this breathing tube soon, Bob has an extensive physical and occupational therapy regimen ahead of him, not to mention some alcohol rehabilitation if he so chooses. Time will tell!
This is my story of pain and difficulty around addiction. I’m sure you have stories of your own. I believe that if we can get help with our emotional traumas early, we can prevent a lot of hardship, for both ourselves and those we love.
I’m grateful that I’m part of a company and home life that helps heal these wounds. These are deeply personal issues that most of us are ashamed to admit. We find it hard to reach out and ask for help.
There is no weakness in admitting that we’re in over our heads with addiction or anything else. It’s a sign of strength and courage to ask for help. Addiction can lead to freedom when it helps us to know ourselves.
If you can relate to anything I’ve written here, please reach out to me via email or phone (314) 691-1697. Share your story. Let us help. Let us give you a possible next step to getting some relief.