Have you ever wanted something so bad as though you felt like you had no option but to give in? The two-year-old whaling in the grocery store for that cookie their parents begin to pull from the bakery bin. As if the compulsion and drive you had for such desire worked it’s way under your skin and into your blood; consuming every inch, every corridor of your soul. We’re all searching for different things. Some of us pursue love and relationships, fame and fortune, self-awareness and sanity, prestige and power. Although we all may be searching for different things, at our core we’re looking for a sense of knowledge we can never truly attain. My little brother has been searching for all of the above; but most of all he’s been fighting to find something he can’t find within himself; love.
We live in a society that sees only black and white when all we embody is varying shades of gray. I’m a square and you’re a circle. I find balance while you overindulge. I’m self-sufficient and you’re an addict. These are the terms we set to define ourselves in relation to others. Yet who and what structures of power enable us to define that which stands within and outside the lines of normality? I drink to have a good time but you drink because you’re ill with low esteem. When we look at people through such a lens we see their behaviors as moral flaws, as sicknesses, as deficiencies even. But in this light we loose sight of a person’s worthiness and ultimately their humanity.
Their rolled up five-dollar bills lend to sniffling students; stuttered speech slurping from back to front. Sitting in dark rooms their jaws clenched with fingers running miles. Their eyes locked, cigarettes lit, shallow eyes still licking lips. Air drifts in and cigarette smoke tickles eyes. Screams and clamorous nonsense fill rooms while laughter falls onto the floor. Their smiles are not sincere and their philosophical conversations will not exist tomorrow; killed before the sun rises. To the bodies that lie within dawn is unforeseen. Night is no longer and bodies begin to melt and laughter matures into tears.
This evening I heard the typical hysterics of my dad shouting, my mom crying and my brother fuming. Walls punched, medication thrown and plates shattered across the floor. All of this heard from my room below.
After all is silent, I come out of hiding to find my mom vacuuming up broken glass and my brother gone. My Dad passes me a letter that he gave him before the ‘idea’ of our picture perfect family shattered. I grab a cigarette and go outside with the letter in hand. I light my cigarette, open the letter and begin to read.
My father has always been a solemn man, a distant man- like most fathers I can only assume. I read the first line through the blinking porch light, “ Travis, I just want you to know that I love you, you are my son and this is an unconditional love I will have forever”. At this point I break into tears as these are words my father has never written or spoken to me and the ability for him to even form such a sentence is in my mind unimaginable.
Last night, my brother again stole my mom’s visa; disappearing on another binge, only to come home with a split lip and a hollow body. This was the last straw for my parents. The letter had said that they didn’t think he was trying hard enough and that they wanted him back; a last attempt at commonality. I guess my brother can’t handle emotion, instead retorting in a fury of rage. Smashing everything in his way he flees the house to the streets where he intends on getting welfare and living amongst the addicts he calls ‘friends’.
I try to tell myself this is not my brother; it’s just the drug. But it still hurts to see your younger flesh in so much pain; a polar opposite of the force he once embodied. I miss the smiling sibling I played card games with, the kid I stayed up late with, the one person who probably knows me better than anyone; although this is something I like to deny.
My mom has quit her job, taken him to every appointment imaginable, researched countless rehab centers and yet nothing changes. No matter how many tears are shed, hitting sweaters like bullets, no matter how many family engagements are ruined because of his actions, he continues to crumble in his own self-hatred.
He must be the saddest person I know- a scar I can never bare for him. Nothing anyone says or does will change the image he sees of himself. He will always look in the mirror and see something lower than human. As much as I’d like to I cannot make him see what I see. A human with potential, strength and perseverance.
When rehab centers in our country have wait lists lasting months to years, waiting for help seems to last an eternity. The juncture in between waiting for support giving my brother more and more time to dig himself further into the ground. My biggest fear now that he’s gone is that he will overdose or get killed by the losers he associates with. Alas, the little kid who always had something exciting to show me when we were younger is no longer there. And now the things he has to show me I’d rather not see.