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Thursday, June 16, 2016

What's it like being a sibling of an addict?

I've been a sibling of an addict for as long as I can remember. Growing up, I always looked up to my older brother and often times as a high schooler went to his parties and hung out with his friends. At that time, it was the "in" thing to do. As we grew older it's almost like he is stuck there and I'm the older sibling. We thought for a moment in time, we had him back. But that was only a snap shot. I can't tell you what it's like for everyone to have a brother or a sister addicted to drugs but I can tell you from my perspective what it feels like to be the sober sibling.

Everyday, I sit and watch my mom go over and over again in her head, what she did wrong, how could her "baby" grow up to be a drug addict. The truth is mom, there isn't anything you could have done. You tried putting him in sports, we always had nice cloths, a roof over our head, food on the table, when we turned 16 you always made sure we had cars to drive. We were given every opportunity to become great. Not every parent is perfect, but raising a drug addict is something you didn't cause. Do I think that if our "dad" would have been a part of our lives would it have made a difference, no. I think this was just the way he was going to grow up. His hatred towards our biological dad, I do believe plays a part in his addictive behavior, but that's just his coping tool. So in other words, mom, you did not cause this, you can't control and you can't fix it.

Everyday, I sit on the "sidelines" as my mom goes through this process. I miss not only my brother but my mom at the same time. I miss the person he was before he thought drugs were more important than his sisters and his niece and nephew, his family in general. I miss my mom as the person she was before drugs consumed her life, I miss hearing laughter and joy. I miss being able to spend holidays and birthdays together as one family and not as two families, always worrying about what to say and not to say.

Everyday, I sit and worry and am in constant fear I will get a call from one of his friends saying we couldn't save him this time. My brother was always my best friend and hero growing up and if he wasn't here, even if I'm not talking to him, I don't know how I would go on. I know I'd have to for my children and my mom, but inside I would be dying. Growing up, we always had each other's backs. No matter what anyone did or said, I would always be on his side and he would always be on my side. If something happened to him, I would always blame myself, even if it wasn't my fault and logically I know it wouldn't be. I would always think, what could I have done to help him? Maybe if I would have talked to him more, he'd still be here? Could I have saved him? Why wasn't my love and understanding enough?

Everyday, I watch people with judgmental eyes look at, not only my brother, but other addicts as well with every bit of disgust. Every time I see this, I want to scream from the top of my lungs, educate yourself and realize these people are someone's brother, sister, daughter, son, mother, father, uncle, aunt. These people are loved by many but forgotten by many more. They become the lost people of this world because so many people haven't educated themselves on this disease. Too many, still to this day have a negative look on addiction and don't realize with the right tools and opportunities, people do recover, people do get better. It hurts my heart when I see people looking at my brother with these eyes. I wish I could educate everyone to help them understand and not be judgmental.

Everyday, I watch as my heart gets heavier and heavier and my brother digs deeper and deeper and I can't save him. I watch as my mom becomes more and more distant and I can't save her. I watch as I become more and more overwhelmed with sadness and I can't save myself. That's why they say addiction is a family disease. Even if you don't think addiction is a disease, people are dying and dying at a rapid rate, so something needs to be done. So you ask me, what's it like to be a sibling of an addict, the answer is it's hell. It's hell on earth and I have no control over it. I have no way out of it, I have no way to save anyone from it. It's a living nightmare. And at some point, we do have to walk away, walk away from the addiction, not the person. We have to save ourselves before it's too late for us. We have to make ourselves stronger in order to help the addict.

If you are the addict, I ask you to please reach out for help. From the bottom of my heart, your family won't judge you, won't be angry with you, all we want to do is help you. Help you become the person you used to be. Become an active member of society. We want you to be involved in our lives and be there with us, before it's too late.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

An Open Letter to You

Dear You,
I debated all night whether or not I should post this on Facebook, send this to you in a message privately, or just simply write it down and never share it. Then I thought about this, I need to start writing again, it's always been my outlet and if you read it or not, so be it, at least I got this off my chest. So here it goes....

I wrote something a while back that said "you will either hug me or hate me when this is all over", and that may be true, but at least if you hate me, I know it wasn't because I didn't try everything in my power to save you. I need to say this and make it public so that everyone else can read it too. First let me start off by saying, I love you like my own brother and always will, that will never change. With that being said, I will always choose your children first. From the very first time they met me, they have always called me Aunt Sheena and never treated me any different, I never told them or asked them to, all I did was show them love and respect. Now before you tell me that I don't know what I'm talking about, let me explain something to you. I know both sides of the story, I have lived your children's lives and I've also seen what addiction can do to a person and to a family first hand. No, I may have never been addicted to a substance, but I have lived the life through watching others. I have seen what goes on when you become addicted to something so powerful that not even your own life matters anymore. I've also been the one who has fought for the life of an addict and thankfully the life I fought for is still here. This is what I am trying to accomplish for your life.

Let me tell you who I had growing up, my mom and my brother. Yes, I did have a step-father and a younger sister, but as you may or may not know having a step-father is never the same. And don't get me wrong, I love my sister and I know she always there when I need her, but there is a bond between my brother and I that can never be broken because we shared so much that not everyone has. It was just me and my brother, while our "dad" was off smoking crack and getting drunk, sound familiar? The only difference between your children and myself is, I didn't know any of his family, I have no idea where he was born, what his mom's name was, if he has or had any siblings, I have no idea if his family ever had any kind of sickness or diseases, the only thing I knew about him was his full name and the state he lived in. I don't even know his birth date. I do, however, know how he died. He cooked himself to death. He was so high on crack and God knows what else that in his little nasty camper trailer he couldn't figure out how to open the door on a day where it was about 110 outside, so needless to say, he probably suffered when he died. Sadly, when we were notified of his passing, I don't even remember shedding one tear. Do you know how embarrassing it is for me to go to a new doctor and have them ask me about my "dads" side of the family? And I'm 30 years old! 

You have a chance to get out of this cycle, you have a chance to be a part of your children's lives, the lives that you helped create and yet, you seem to not even care. After everything your kids have been through, your oldest daughter has repeatedly forgiven you and tried to have a relationship with you, and I've told you numerous times, they need to get angry with you, they need to let you know how they feel and then you can start rebuilding what you lost but you can't go in their faces and demand respect, that's not how the world works. 

If you knew how much I fight for your life everyday, you might feel a bit guilty. Or maybe not, I'm not sure at this point. Knowing the letters I've written on your behalf that you probably don't even know about, how I've talked to your parole officer when you got locked up again, trying to get you paroled out here so you wouldn't have to spend anymore time in prison and possibly get your life back on track, how every morning I start my day off with a cup of coffee and looking up jail records and calling the hospitals to make sure you're okay. I do this not only for myself but for your children, I don't want them to have to tell people "my dad died because of drugs."

You and maybe some other people may get mad at me for posting this and that's okay, I'm not writing this to make friends, I'm writing it because my heart is heavy and hurts for your children. When you're sober, you are an amazing person and could be an amazing father. Right now you're not living, you're going through each day in a drug induced stupor. Do you know how much suffering you would cause to all of us if something were to happen to you? Or do you even care? 

Sadly, as much pain and suffering you have caused your children, I don't hate you. I am very saddened by your actions and wish that I could shield all of your children from ever experiencing any of it, but I can't. All I can do is be there for them when they need someone to yell at or cry to that may understand a little better. I hope that one day you will realize what is going on and that you might try and mend what you have broken, I just hope it's not too late. I do hope the best for you and hope that you do get your life together and have all of things that you have said you wanted. Until then, I will continue to fight for your life for your children and for your children only and I will continue to be on their side, whether they are right or wrong, they are my nieces and nephews and I have to defend them and be the voice of the voiceless. 


Monday, September 9, 2013

Can't Save the World

I haven't written in a while and something has encouraged me to write today. I'm not sure if it's the thought of my Grandma on my mind or other things happening in my life lately, but there are some things that I need to write and feel the need to share.

Just recently someone close to me said to me again, "Sheena, you can't save the world". I understand this, I understand that I cannot change people, people have to change themselves. On the other hand, without people like me there would be a lot more drug addicts dead and a lot more kids living on the streets. Yes, again my mind goes to addiction. So please do not tell me I can't save the world, because I will try one person at a time. When I tell you I love you, it's the truth and I don't give up on the people I love. I may get mad at you and say things that I regret, but I never stop loving you. Once you're in my mind, it's hard to get me to stop thinking/loving you. I guess this is my blessing and my curse in life. I wear my heart on my sleeve and some times I get hurt.

I always go back to this story, but it's the one closest to my heart. My brother suffered from addiction for many years. To this day, I can't watch shows about addiction or even think about it without crying. Even with this said, I continue to do so and continue to educate myself on drug addiction. My brother is and always has been my hero in life. He's always thought he needed to protect me from the evils in life and I think that he did. I can honestly say that if it wasn't for him, I might have ended up as an addict also. In fact, I may be one, just not in the self harm way that he was. I find myself addicted to addiction and the need to help people. Which in some ways causes me just as much pain. I am always thinking about how proud I am of my brother for what he has overcome in such a short period of time. I feel like he has received a second chance on life. At his lowest point I was mad at him because he became everything he said he wouldn't but now I can say, you've been everything you said you wouldn't and you've conquered everything you said you couldn't.

I wish that one day, I could work with recovering addicts and help them heal, because I've been on the opposing side and I think I know just enough to say I've been on the addicts side as well. I'm extremely sensitive and usually can pick up on the pain of some one's addiction. The root behind every addiction is pain. You don't wake up one day from your "normal" happy life and say I would like to stick a needle in my arm and play a game of life or death every day. It just doesn't happen that way. For me my pain and why I'm addicted to addiction is my brother and my brother in-law. My biological father also suffered from addiction, sadly, I couldn't help him, he didn't have someone like me behind him pushing him and telling him he could do it. Maybe if he got to know me, my brother and my sister better, it may have helped, instead he choose to numb his pain with drugs and alcohol. I believe I was able to save my brother and it gives me hope that I may be able to save someone else.

And, people may get mad at me for writing these, but honestly I don't care. It's my outlet, my way of trying to cope with what goes on in my mind. I have hard speaking things out loud but my outlet has always been writing. I saw this letter on Pinterest, yes I know "UGH, Pinterest", but I thought I would share:
 
An Open Letter to My Family (from an addict)

I am a drug-abuser, I need help

Don't solve my problems for me. This only makes me lose respect for you - and for myself.

Don't lecture, moralize, scold, blame or argue whether I'm stoned or sober. It may make you feel better, but it only makes the situation worse.

Don't accept my promises. The nature of my illness prevents my keeping them, even though I mean them at the time, promises are only my way of postponing pain. And don't keep switching agreements; if an agreement is made, stick to it.

Don't lose your temper with me. It will destroy you and any possibility of helping me.

Don't let your anxiety for me make you do what I should do for myself.

Don't believe everything I tell you. Often I don't even know the truth - let alone tell it.

Don't cover up or try to spare me the consequences of my using. It may reduce the crisis but it will make my illness worse.

Above all, don't run away from reality as I do. Drug dependence, my illness, gets worse as my using continues.

Start to learn, to understand, to plan for recovery. I need help - from a doctor, a psychologist, a counselor, from some people in a self-help program who are in recovery from a drug problem themselves - and from a power greater than myself.

Before it's too late and we can't help you anymore.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Undone

Since I can't find the video to this song yet, I can't share this song with anyone, so I thought I'd just share the lyrics. This is from No Doubt's new album and as many of you know, they are my favorite band. Not just because of the music they play but also because of the lyrics they write. This song gave me goosebumps from the moment I heard it. It would probably mean more to everyone else if you could hear Gwen sing it.

"Undone"

I'm broke,
Let me show you where it hurts.
I'm trying to be brave
This wasn't in my plan and nothing you can do, I've changed.

It's such a waste

I'm undone
And there's nothing I can do this time, it's all out of my hands,
And just when I was getting good.
Why's it have to end?
I don't understand

And don't leave me behind,
This time I need you, nothing's feeling right
Oh, I'm in trouble, help me,
No one needs you more than me.

I know,
I made you feel like you were lucky to have me.
But now I'm panicking, I'm lost, you're the one I need,
Be patient please,
And don't leave me behind,
This time I need you, nothing's feeling right,

'Cause I'm in trouble, help me,
No one needs you more than me.

Change me back,
Please, change me back,
I don't know who I am anymore,
I can't take it anymore.

And don't leave me behind.
This time I need you, nothing's feeling right.
'Cause I'm in trouble, help me.
No one needs you more than me.

No one needs you more than me.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Give Your Best Anyway...

As life continues to go on in my new adventure, it becomes a little harder for me to deal with everything that has happened, just in 2012. I started this year out thinking our life would still be in our little house in Arizona and me working for an organization that I loved. I really thought I would be there for years, but things do change and we have to move on. I thought Jaidyn would still be able to play with his best friends and go to school right down the street from our house. Never did I think that my life would take a complete 180 and go from loosing a little girl that holds a key to my heart, to getting her back, to dealing once again with an addiction that is more powerful than anything, becoming a part of my three nieces and nephews lives and moving across the country. I never thought I would be sitting here writing this in the middle of Illinois. This year has been an emotional roller coaster and I am ready for it to be a new year and to start over.

Don't get me wrong, the move we made was for the best for our family and I've gained new family from doing so. Family that has been very supportive and helpful and loving, but there is still a hole in my heart from leaving my home town. I guess it also hurt because there are some people who weren't very supportive in our decision and have shut us out because of their own heart ache. And I think what is worse is that it hurts my son more than it does me. You can't judge our choices without knowing our reasons. And our reasons had nothing to do with anyone but our family.

Things have been a struggle for me here, Jaidyn's attitude changed a lot and I think it's hard for him also and being 4 he doesn't know how to express what he's feeling. I do think he is happier here and has been able to experience new things, things he would never have been able to in Arizona. I know that I haven't been the nicest to my husband, but sometimes I don't mean to. I know he thinks I hate him for moving here and I truly don't. I just want him to understand that I have never lived anywhere but Arizona and have never lived this far away from my Mom. It will take me time to get used my new environment and find my place here. In a way I feel a little out of place. I know that no one here has created that or wanted that, but I can't help but feel like an outsider looking in. Things are so much different in the mid-west and anyone who hasn't experienced it is probably thinking I'm full of it, but it's the truth. I try every day to try and stay positive and pretend like I'm doing okay, but sometimes I'm not. I want to be able to call my best friend and go to her house, or call my mom and go to the mall with her. I want to get up and go to work and actually have money to go out and do things.

Without the pictures of my nieces and nephews in my head I don't know how I could actually do this. They have made the move a little easier and I'm extremely happy I am able to help them in anyway I can. I know that the older ones don't really know me and who knows, maybe don't want to get to know me, but at least that I know that I am here for them in anyway they need me to be. I know that if they call me, day or night, I will help them with what I can. I know that Lillian will now be able to get to know me and hopefully I can be the Auntie I always wanted to be.

Every day is a little different, some are easier and some are harder, but I know I can do this and I know that everything will be okay in time. I found a quote yesterday that really moved me and I am really going to try and remember this every day.

"People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway. If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway."



Thursday, August 16, 2012

Starting Over

We're slowing settling into our new life in Illinois, well I really should say I'M settling into the new life here. My husband and son settled in before we even got here. I won't lie, I've had my ups and downs and there are days worse than others. There are some days where I think to myself "What the hell did I do?" I left a job that I loved, I left my brother and the rest of my family. But then I sit back and I think about my nieces and nephews and how good this is for my son and husband and it seems to get a little better. Even as I sit here and write just these few lines, I start to cry. I've never been this far away from home, I've only been separated by a few miles not a few states. I've recently had a few interviews for jobs and one of the questions that was asked to me was what is the most difficult decision you've had to make and without hesitation I said "Moving to Illinois." If it wasn't for the love and support from my husband's family here, I don't think I could have done this. I might have already been begging for my job back and on a plane home.

In moving here though, I did find out who is truly our family and friends. I know that some people weren't happy about us moving, but they supported us and gave us the guidance that we needed. Some people became bitter and don't seem to understand why we chose to move. I never thought I would see the day when someone would stop talking to me and/or treating me the same way because of choice I made to better our family. Some days, I do think was this really better for our family, but at the end of the day and the help of friends and family it's said to me "I am where I'm suppose to be." It makes my heart heavy to think that we may loose contact with some people because of this choice but at least we know who really would be there for us in the end.

I did recently get a job at an organization called Macon Resources. It seems like an amazing place to work and reminds me a lot of my previous job in Arizona. Macon Resources is a non-profit agency that provides comprehensive services that promote growth, independence, and self worth in children and adults with disabilities.They also run a local pet shelter here, that I may be able to help with. Even with this job, I got into a little funk, because I had to start at the bottom again. I just felt like I'm starting over with everything and it makes me very anxious. I took a very large pay cut by taking this job, which means the way I had become used to living has gone out the door. I know this sounds awful and at the end of the day what matters most is that we have a roof over our head, food on the table, and happiness, but it still is a worry I have in the back of my head.

I know this is starting to sound a little depressing, so maybe I should bring up the positives of us moving here. Jaidyn was accepted into the pre-k program at the school he will be going to once he starts kindergarten. He gets to ride a bus and everything, he is very excited about that. I, on the other hand, am not very excited about the bus ride. But I was assured that in small towns the bus driver takes very good care of the kids and to make things even better it drops him off and picks him up right in front of our house. The daycare that he will be going to after school is right across from our house and the lady is very nice and Jaidyn seems to like it over there. He has also gotten to experience things he probably would have never gotten to in Arizona. He has experienced being able to play with his older cousins, he's caught his first fish, he's been on a boat at the lake, he's experienced grass, big fires, and so much more. I really do think he will love it here and grow up with a good outlook on life.

Once again, I can't thank my husband's family (I should really stop calling them his family, because they are mine too) for being so supportive and welcoming to me and for helping me with everything from moving here, to fixing up our house, to babysitting Jaidyn when I needed someone to watch him, and for just being there for me. Although, it will never fill the hole in my heart from leaving so much behind in Arizona, it is a pretty good band-aid. For now, all I can do is continue on the path I'm given and lean on the support I do receive.


Jaidyn and his beautiful, smart, and very kind cousin Kayla, without her and her being so helpful in watching Jaidyn, I couldn't have gotten a job. Words can't describe how wonderful Kayla is!


Kayla, Lane, and Jaidyn on his first boat ride.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Saying Goodbye...



From day one, it has always been my brother and I against the world. If anyone hurt me, he'd be right by my side, if anyone or anything hurt him, I was right by his side. He and I have been through a lot together and it seems very unlikely that our relationship will change, despite the many miles that will come between us here soon. I've helped my brother through his troubles and have learned from his mistakes, and in a way I think it's part of what made me who I am today. I remember being 4 or 5 and always having to write down in school who was your hero and without hesitation I always wrote my brothers name. As we grew up and I become a mom and a wife, my perspectives have changed and I have more than one hero now, but my brother will always remain my first hero. He could always pick on me and call me names, but he would be damned if someone else called me any name. And as he went through his "troubles" I was always the first one by his side, sticking up for him and even though at sometimes, what he was doing wasn't "right", I always took his side. He truly has been the best brother anyone could ask for and I am very lucky to have him in my life. I am also very proud of everything that he has overcome in the last year. He has rebuilt his life and is now able to be proud of what he does and who he is. I only hope that it stays that way and he doesn't fall into another cycle.

As I was driving to get Jaidyn yesterday, it suddenly hit me that in just about two weeks, I would have to say bye to my brother, the rest of my family and my amazing friends. I know it's not bye forever, it's a see you later, but this is something that I have never had to deal with before. Anytime my brother went somewhere, I was right behind him. I know what I am doing is best for my family and I know the reason why I have to do what I have to do and I am happy about our decision, it's just going to be some hard adjusting on my part.

The last few weeks, it's suddenly hit me that this is actually going to happen, my job has been replaced at work, Shane's last week of work is next week, we've paid for the rental truck, my mom has taken the time off work to drive with me the whole 22 hours it takes to get there. And I honestly don't know how I'm going to say goodbye to anyone. For the last 27 years I've lived in one place and over the years, I've gained and lost some friends, but the friends and family I have now, I couldn't ask for better. I really loved my job and I don't know if I will find anything that equals it. I don't mean to sound so sad, because I know I will have a loving family where we are going and I know that I will make new friends, but the one's I've made here have changed my life forever.

I wish I could write a letter to each and everyone that has been and is a part of my life, but honestly I don't think emotionally I can take that. If I don't seem upset about leaving, please don't let that fool you, inside I'm a mess. I've made a lot of sacrifices for the ones I love, especially my brother and my brother in-law, and I think now is the time that I need to worry about my little family and do what we think is best for us. I don't know what our life will be like in Illinois, but I do know that we have family support there and here (hopefully) and I will always have my husband and my beautiful son. As long as my son is happy, then I have no other choice but to be happy, because at the end of the day, that's what matters.

So, I guess this blog is a letter to everyone that has touched my life and I have been blessed to know and become close to. I don't want anyone to think that because we are moving that I love anyone less or that I will suddenly stop talking to everyone. I have no intention of leaving and never looking back. I know sometimes life gets busy and I may not be able to update everyone on a weekly basis but I will try my hardest to keep in touch as often I can.

I don't know how I will be able to say goodbye to my babies in my life. For them, I want each and everyone of them to know how much I truly love them and would give my life for each and everyone. I want them to know that I will always be there for them, even though I may be 1200 miles away, I am never a phone call away. I will always be here to answer your questions that you may not want to ask your parents, I will always be here to give you hair advice, to give you make-up advice, to support you in any decisions that you make. Before I leave, I will write a letter to each of you for you to read when you get older and know I truly love you more than you will ever understand.

This has been one the hardest decisions I have had to make and I'm not sure I can say goodbye. I've come across to quotes that I want to share because they mean so much to me right now and I need to keep them close to I will never forget. As our new life begins in Illinois, I will try and keep my blog updated with the things Jaidyn is doing and learning and keep everyone up to date, so for my family and friends that don't look at this frequently, please do so in the future. I love everyone more than anyone can ever know.

"Someday everything will all make perfect sense. So for now laugh at the confusion, smile through the tears, and keep reminding yourself that everything happens for a reason."

"Never say goodbye. Because goodbye means going away, and going away means forgetting." - Peter Pan