After years of drugs, jail time and half-assed sobriety, I’d had it with my brother.
No matter how much support I offered. No matter how much I worried. And no matter how many times I told him I’d help him find the best rehab whenever he was ready, it never changed a damn thing.
He kept pushing me away, blaming me for everything that was wrong with his life and sinking deeper into the dark.
I knew that it was time for me to make a big decision. Do I totally disconnect from my brother and let him live out his life or do I continue to put up with his nonsense?
If you’ve ever been so frustrated by your sibling’s drug or alcohol addiction that you considered disconnecting from them, today’s post is for you.
I’m sharing the three questions that helped me figure out what to do about my relationship with my brother. My hope is that these questions will give you the answers you need to figure out the best road to take with your loved one.
After you’ve read through today’s post, I’d love to hear from you.
If you’ve ever considered totally disconnecting from an addicted sibling how did you do it? Or did you?
Remember, your voice, experiences and insights are vital to this community. And what you have to share is not only unique but it may be exactly what someone else needs to read.
As always, thanks for being a part of this community. I appreciate you!
Until Next Tuesday.
P.S. Even though today’s post is coming through the lens of siblings, there’s plenty here to apply and learn. No matter what your relationship with the addict or alcoholic is.
#1 What Patterns Do We Keep Repeating?
Through the years I’ve learned that patterns exist in every relationship.
The way that we interact with people in our lives is based largely on a bunch of conditioned responses.
And becoming aware of those responses and recognizing the patterns can help you find the issues in your relationship that need attention.
This kind of awareness can also help you decide when and if it’s time to walk away.
Once I started to pay attention to them, the patterns between my brother and I became clear.
For example. My brother and I would lose contact for years while he was using. He’d get sober, or claim to be sober, and then randomly show up in my life.
He’d make empty promises that I fell for over and over again. And within six months he’d typically disappear from my life without any explanation or contact information.
I’d be disappointed, hurt, sad, full of blame and angry. It wasn’t until I got tired of riding the emotional roller coaster that I started to examine the pattern between us.
Once I recognized it I asked myself questions like, Is this a pattern I want to keep repeating? Is this something my brother and I can fix? And if not then what can I do to make this situation better for me? Can I rely on my brother to be part of that?
#2 Am I Safe In His Life?
The last time I saw my brother he was living in a crack house.
I remember showing up at the address he gave me, taking one look at the rotted planks of wood barricading the door and wanting to run away screaming.
I knew immediately that I wouldn’t be safe there but I had to stay the night. I had no other way to get back home.
It was then that I realized that my brother’s life was not a safe place for me to be.
And if I couldn’t be safe in my brother’s life then I couldn’t be in it.
If being in your loved one’s life means that your physical, mental or emotional safety will be compromised, then it may be time to walk away.
#3 Does He Respect My No?
One of the many times my brother was in jail I sent him a card. I wanted him to know that I hadn’t forgotten about him and that I believed in him.
His response? “You bitch, why didn’t you put money in the card?”
Clearly, my brother did not respect my no.
Respecting someone’s no, is really about respecting someone’s boundaries. Whether you make it clear that your brother can’t show up to your house drunk. Or that your sister can no longer verbally abuse you – your no, just like your safety, is not up for negotiation.
I took my time answering these three questions. And after some thought I decided that it was time to step out of my brother’s life.
Before I did, I told him that whenever he was ready for rehab I’d be right there to help and support him.
It was a painful decision to make. But one that I needed for my health and well-being.
Out of all the relationships I’ve lost to addiction, my relationship with my brother has by far been the most painful. And it’s definitely the one that I’ve lost the most sleep over.
But despite that pain here’s what I know. As loved ones of addicts and alcoholics we often put up with tuns because we’re afraid of what might happen if we don’t.
If you feel that fear just know that you’re not alone. Unless there’s a crisis sitting in your lap at this very moment, pace yourself and keep it simple.
Take out a journal or just a simple piece of paper and think through these questions. Nothing you decide has to be forever. Situations can change in an instant. Here’s hoping that they change for the better.