Lost Things

This post is a little different from my typical post. It’s very personal and some of you may not want to read it. (Mom, you might not want to.)

There is a line in the book Beautiful Boy that always makes me cry: How do you explain to an eight-year-old when his brother steals from him?

I don’t remember the first time my brother stole from me. Was it the time he took my piggy bank, filled to the brim with shiny, silver coins I’d so painstakingly saved? Or was it the time I came home to find my portable video game system along with all the games had been taken? I do remember the first time he took my parent car. The green Volkswagen Jetta that I was later to inherit never drove the same after he wrecked it that night.

My brother, older to me by 5 years, is currently in a rehab program. When I was in elementary school he was in and out of jail. When I graduated to high school, he graduated to prison. He’s never done anything crazy – he’s not a murderer, drug dealer, or any sort of high-crime character. He’s an almost-thirty year old who can’t figure out life. He does drugs. He drinks too much. He steals stuff. Last time he went to prison it’s because he broke into my neighbor’s house, a coworker of my parents, and stole their tv in the middle of the night. How did I find out that it was my neighbor? I was at a friend’s house and said neighbor came over. They, not knowing who I was at the time, told the story of how the husband, member of the NRA and avid gun aficionado, pulled a hand gun on my brother – and fired. The gun locked up. I sat there, on the back patio of my friend’s house, hearing for the first time the story of house my brother almost died a mere week earlier.

Everyone who knows someone with a substance abuse problem knows that the family members feel guilty at one point or another. I’ve never blamed myself for my brother’s problems. What I do feel guilty over are my conflicted feelings about my brother. When he’s in prison, which is most of the time, my family becomes one of two parents and one child. We have a routine down and we’re happy. Then, he returns. Suddenly everything is thrown out of balance and the tense, uncomfortable family that exists must attempt to find some middle ground. Everyone walks on eggshells making an already awkward moment even worse. Just when we adjust to being a family of four, he lets us down again.

This may have sound harsh to you.

The thing is you’re new to the story. I live the story. I know how it ends. My brother will come home again. He’ll do great. He’ll get an apartment (with the help of my parents), a job (with the help of me), a car (again from my parents) and slowly continues his uphill battle. My parents will help him obtain everything he needs to live a normal life – a bed, a vacuum, food for his fridge…. They’ll tell me how wonderful he’s doing and that they’re proud of him. I’ll start to believe it, my hard exterior will melt a little and I’ll let myself hope that it’s different this time. Then my mom will tell me he’s been arrested again and he’s in jail/prison/fill-in-the-blank. And then I watch my parents attempt to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives… again. I will listen to my father – my father who does not cry – do just that. I will listen to my mother ask me, despair in her voice, if it’s her fault. And I will try to move on with my life like it doesn’t kill me a little inside each time by big brothers fails us all again.

I know, I sound like a bitch. I’m not going to deny it. I sound selfish. He’s the one who’s struggling and I have the audacity to use the words ‘fails us again’. But, you know what? After 15 years you have to find some way of dealing with it for your own sanity.

I love my brother. He’s… well, he’s my brother. And he always will be. I’ll always be there for him and I’ll always be supportive. I’m just having a difficult time trying to sort out my feelings right now.

Lost Things (July 9, 2009)

Hit in the chest, like I can’t breathe
Dazed in the head, like I can’t think
I know in my heart you’re worth so much more
Yet here I am again, my heart so tore
You did it again
Why do I feel like it’s my sin
You’re gone again
Again, Again, Again.
 Torn between parent and child
Like you, I’m so wild
I can’t be myself
For those I have to protect
You keepers
The ones I respect
I can’t watch them hurt
Each other’s pain
We try to avert
Unintentional on your part
Still breaks apart
My heartMy brother missed my elementary school graduation, my high school graduation, my first apartment. He missed my 18th birthday, my 21st birthday. He missed all my missteps and my big steps. Now I’m going through one of the biggest transitions in my life and he’s not here. I love him with all my heart and wish he could be there. This is nothing against him. This is me expressing my feelings the only way I know how.




Andrew and Amber


About Unladylike Behavior

I’m a 24-year-old living oxymoron, an adventurous bookworm who loves to dress up and play in the dirt. I grew up in a small town in the wine country of California, population 3,000, moved to Sacramento in 2010, lasted 6 months before I moved to a small town on the outskirts of Sacramento area, population 2,000. I write about my life with my own brand of humor. Some would look at the events I write about as mundane. I, however, look at these day-to-day happenings as humorous, wonderful little gifts just waiting to be polished.
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16 Responses to Lost Things

  1. It doesn’t sound harsh – family can be a fucking pain the ass – but they’ll always be our family.

  2. Kris says:

    You’ve written this so well, I can almost imagine…

    Except that I can’t. I’m the oldest of five and if one of my siblings were to develop a substance abuse problem/get shot/ steal from me it would break my little heart in pieces.

    I’m sure you must develop coping mechanisms. My Mom’s brother killed himself two years ago after years of struggle. I can’t even imagine…

    • I’m so sorry to hear that. I’ve never had to deal with any sort of untimely death in my family, and I don’t know how I would cope with it. My boyfriend has an aunt who lost everyone – her sons, her husband, her grandchild – everyone. Their family flew planes and there were multiple plane crashes that resulted in many deaths over the years. The final one was in front of her. She ran to help but it was too late. She has burns all over her body from attempting to rescue them.

  3. Emily says:

    If I was there with you I would be giving you a hug right now. I haven’t had to experience this in my own life, but I work with a lot of families who have had issues with family members similar to your brother. I’ve seen how it tears them apart. Getting hopes up only to have promises broken. Wanting to help but not sure what will actually help that person. The anger, tears, fighting, hurt, I could go on and on. It breaks my heart. But do know that I am praying for you and your family!

  4. You don’t sound harsh, and you don’t sound like a bitch.

    You sound human. And relateable. And understandably frustrated and disappointed. It must be awful to have to feel that way, and see what it does to your parents, too.

    Thanks for a touching post. This is the first I have read on your blog, and it is nice to see the true human side of people now and again.

    I hope things with your brother improve… though unlikely he will change, I hope your heart aches a little less.

    • Thanks for this comment. I debated whether or not to post this as it is obviously something very personal to me and my family. I have a thing with vulnerability – I don’t like it. I also didn’t want to put anything out there that would upset my family. I hope that people understand my post as you seem to have. I’m not trying to sound mean or harsh or unforgiving. I’m just trying to understand a situation and find some means of coping. I also know that there are a lot of people who deal with more difficult situations daily, and I don’t want to come off as… what’s the phrase I’m looking for… self-centered?

      • Trust me, you don’t sound self-centred… and sure, there are worse things happening in the world, but this is YOUR reality, that you deal with every day.

        It obviously will impact you.

        And it is hard to put stuff like this out there, but sometimes it can be a little freeing as well. It’s hard to always keep it bottled up – it usually does harm to you if you hold it back all the time.


  5. Claire says:

    wow, that’s intense. thank you for sharing this. i really appreciate your honesty. i hope things will change for your brother.

  6. Lindsay says:

    I just stumbled across your blog and have been catching up on your posts. This is very brave of you to share. It doesn’t make you a bitch – it’s understandable that you feel like he’s failed you and your parents. That doesn’t mean you love him any less, as you said, and it doesn’t mean you don’t miss him. You can just only take so many disappointments from anyone in your life, especially when you’ve worked hard to help them along the way.

    Best of luck to your brother and to your family…

  7. Sara says:

    I feel like this is my life except that my brother isn’t in jail, he’s just always in trouble. Everything you said, he has done. And you definitely don’t sound like a jerk. I feel the same way about my brother.

  8. janelle says:

    This floored me. In an entirely wonderful, perfect way. Because I was the drunk sibling. I was the drug addict sibling. This brought tears to my eyes — you really nailed it when you described the cycle (getting better, hopefulness, FAIL.). How grateful I am for my own sobriety. I send you and your brother my love. It’s an insidious disease. Glad to have found your blog (via a comment you left on mine!).

    • That made me cry. I always do when I hear stories of people who say ‘that used to be me’. It gives me hope that one I can say, “Don’t worry, my brother used to be just like that.”

  9. Cynthia says:

    I am one of those people that absolutely hates it when I’m telling a story that is very close to my heart and feels so personal. However, this blog post hit home for me (and actually made me tear up). I feel like this post was written by me (although instead of brother it would be sister). I know what you mean when you say that it’s a very conflicting situation. The hardest part for me, other than remembering that I don’t have to like her actions to love her, is that she has 3 children who are the ones that are hurt most by her actions.

    I hope that things get better, for both our families. I know that it’s a constant struggle and that you never want to “give up.” I’m ashamed to say that I have…

    • And, another comment to make me tear up. I’m so sorry for you and your family. I’m so sorry for you sister’s children. I’m so sorry that, after all these years nothing has changed and you’ve found yourself giving up. I understand. Sometimes it seems endless and impossible. Sometimes it doesn’t just seem endless and impossible; sometimes it is.

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