Sickness and sadness have replaced my previously lilting energy. Our easy trip to the Big Easy last week was a dream. Eating, touring, walking, and talking around New Orleans. Laughing, thinking, wondering. Basking in friendliness, y’all.
Today, by contrast, I woke up with a headache, sore throat and nausea. I’ve been in bed all day until now—sleeping, depressed, dizzy. My daughter is also sick with a sore throat and cough. My partner is being sweet and nurturing.
My brother has been here at my parents’ house for the past couple of weeks. We have never been close as siblings, in large part due to his having been lost in addiction for the past 20+ years.
From our perspective as a family, he has hit rock bottom a number of times: being homeless in Austin, being hospitalized with a life-threatening, drug-related infection; being intubated in the ICU because he was coming down off of a high and aggressive with the hospital staff; overdosing in my parents’ bathroom this past summer after injecting too much of his day-labor pay into his arm. My dad, who was being treated for prostate cancer at the time, had to break into the bathroom, see my brother nodded out with a pool of blood under his head and take him to the ER. My mother, feeling guilt and pity, welcomed my brother come back the next day.
For my brother, there seems to be no such thing as rock bottom.
Where is my compassion? I feel a major lack of it. I mainly just feel sadness and hopelessness around the situation. I am angry about how my brother’s behavior has affected my parents over the years. The one conversation he and I actually had, last week, he was mostly playing dumb: a lot of “I don’t know” and “you’re confusing me,” when I tried to get him to commit to not actively using heroin or other drugs in the house, where I am staying with my 9-year-old daughter. He’s either pretending to be brain-dead as a new manipulation of my folks (which is working for the moment) or he just is befuddled and dazed, having killed too many brain cells through hard drug use. I know the only reason he’s not using is that he has no money.
My dad took him this week for an evaluation with a psychologist and to meet with a caseworker to set goals and look at options. There is a safe house in nearby New Braunfels; he’s the first one on the waiting list. There is another option for homeless individuals in downtown San Antonio. My dad may take him there this week. How hard must it be to drop off your adult child at a homeless shelter? How many times have they had to do this?
I am in touch with a few friends as a support system, but I haven’t even replied to them for the past few days out of exhaustion, overwhelm and feeling weak and ill. Nonetheless, I will survive. In two weeks and two days, we’ll be back in our own home, a safe and sacred space. In the meantime, even in my current daze, I will try my best to express my gratitude, love and care to my family, even though my instinct is to burrow into my shell and hide.