I spoke with my nephew trying to get information about my brother’s condition (see previous post). I felt like I was pulling teeth. At first I thought maybe he was pretty much in the dark, and then I remembered my mother and brother are secret keepers, not open people like me, so maybe my nephew was protecting the family secrets. I really doubt that. I don’t think he knows much. That brings up a whole other set of questions.
My nephew had little if any sympathy for his dad. He said his father has no friends, no activities, no interests, no hobbies, no nothing. He’s completely sedentary with watching TV and reading a book the only things he would consider doing.
He said his dad was so deeply addicted to painkillers — Oxycontin or anything in the opiate family — that he would require hospitalization to be medically withdrawn from them. He takes them — a lot of them in mega doses.
When I was so appalled by what he was telling me he lamely said “Well, maybe it is time for an intervention.”
He went on to explain his dad really does nothing — to the point his dad had confessed that he was lucky he was allowed to be employed as long as he was because he’d pretty much quit working the last few years and didn’t do anything.
My brother the OCD workaholic sat around and did nothing??? I know he’d had a variety of health problems for the last 10 years. Atrial irregularities that had led to a series of ablations. Bell’s palsy. Now peripheral neuropathy. I think they finally determined it all may have started with Lyme disease and his problems could be a result of that not being diagnosed. And these were the things I knew about and I know very little.
It sounded like somewhere along the way my brother had simply given up. He mentioned to me how sorry he felt for his wife — he said for the last 10 years he had basically needed assisted living and she was his caretaker. From the age of 55 to 65 her viewed himself as a virtual invalid?
Yet his wife was out of town on a trip with her sisters when he called and he had driven himself into Philadelphia for a doctor’s appointment while under the influence of hard core pain medication. Something didn’t add up.
The irony of the entire conversation with my nephew? I had more sympathy for my brother’s plight than his own son did. But then, his son doesn’t have all the pieces to the puzzle that I have. And his dad is still actively saying ugly things to both he and his wife. No a recipe for understanding and sympathy.
I feel the title for this post may more aptly be “Fall of the Golden Child”.
Why it all bothered me
If finally dawned on me why the conversation with him had been so distressing to me. It was talking to someone who was screwed up on drugs. It’s an extremely painful point to me — I had heard my brilliant son call me too many times sounding slurred and totally stupid. Drugs make you stupid and my brother had allowed it to happen to him.
And it wasn’t just my son. I had been with my mother as well when she popped so many Valium that I had to lead her around while she was literally drooling stupid. It happened several times with me out in public and I don’t know what she did when she was home alone. Once when flying back from Washington, DC after meeting my brother and his wife so we could all tour around my mother’s old haunts from her time of serving there in the SPARS during WWII she started taking Valium. I asked her to please stop and she wouldn’t. She ended up do dazed and dopey I had to lead her to the flight and people were asking me what was wrong with her. I was so livid about what she’d done I was telling people “She’s [email protected]%#ed up on Valium.”
Benzodiazepines were definitely the drug family of choice for my son and mother. She took Valium, klonopin, xanax, ativan and tried to convince everyone it was for her “heart condition.” Yeah, right. What she had was panic attacks. A problem I seemed to be growing into — even though I can’t for the life of me figure out why now when my life is relatively calm, after all I’d been through before. Maybe I was stressed to the max so much before it kept my tolerance up and now my tolerance has dwindled. Maybe it’s PTSD.
I knew I was plop in the middle of two generations with an addiction to benzos and have sworn to never take any under any circumstances. I have informed my doctor of that. My mother’s brother had been a full blown alcoholic. My mother had told me her mother allowed no alcohol in the house due to abuse from her father when he was drinking. I know I drink too much. There was no doubt addiction runs in the family.
So maybe my brother had stumbled into opiates being his drug family of choice. I know he was a big fan of Xanax and had been pushing them at my mom and I when my father died. I declined. They both numbed themselves out with them.
The thing that got me the most? He was the one who had everything to live for. He had a wife he adored and who I assumed loved him. He had two kids. He had seven grandchildren. I ended up alone with a dead child and I manage to keep going and work at keeping both my brain and my body active.
But I go back to right before my dad died. My quiet father talked to me for 3 hours and part of what he told me was about my brother. He said my brother was so stressed that he had been sent to a psychiatrist for help and walked out when the doctor asked about his wife and refused to go back. Dad worried it was going to kill him if he didn’t deal with the issues that were eating away at him. Dad also told me my brother was absolutely freaking out about dad’s bad health and was convinced he was going to die young. Dad pointed out how much more aware we were — he didn’t know that smoking and eating a high fat diet was going to kill him. We were educated and knew how to eat and take care of ourselves.
It kind of sounded like my brother didn’t know the “taking care of ourselves” part.
So what were the issues rumbling around in my head (and heart) and not feeling comfortable?
- My brother being addicted to pain medication and giving up
- Wasting his intelligence (a thing I may value about all things)
- Fear I have hereditary tendencies to addiction and health problems
I kept thinking here is a man who never hesitated to inflict cruelty and pain on others — even his own children at times. And he had a disorder that kept him in so much perceived pain that he had basically blown his life away with pain killers.
Whoa. If this is karma at work I promise to be a good girl and treat people the way I wish to be treated. I don’t want crap like that coming back at me!
So sad really. Here is a man with a brilliant mind, a former jock, for cripes sake he was like the most popular and handsome guy in high school. While it took him 18 years to get a degree, once he did he moved up into really significant positions. And what I’m thinking is that he’s never really believed in his own value and it’s chipped away at him his entire life until he’s been reduced to what he is now. Man — who would have thought this would be the outcome for a golden child?
I’ve said it before and I will reiterate it now — while growing up the scapegoat of a narcissistic mother was a bitch and has left me damaged (hence no long lasting relationships) I would rather be the scapegoat than the golden child. I do live by the golden rule and treat people well. While I struggle I keep my butt in motion and keep going emotionally with the hope that things will someday be better as far as relationships. And if they don’t get better at least I’m learning things and doing interesting things along the way.
I have only pity for my brother. Well, and a considerable amount of distrust. He was nice the last couple times we’ve spoken, but I know he can go on the attack on a whiff of perceived insult. Sad if drugged and stupid finally makes him a decent person to communicate with.
So the conversations with my brother will serve as a cautionary tale for me. There but for the grace of whatever, go I. I had better be aware and watch myself or I could end up just like him.