Over Breakfast and Facebook, I Discovered My Brother's Mug Shot
As I sit here, quietly surrounded by my four sleeping children on the first day of summer break, I wish I could unsee the police blotter my friend posted to her Facebook feed this morning. The joys and peril of social media… who needs the weekly town paper when you can get the local dirt instantly? Who needs to wait for a call from your mom that your brother is in trouble again when friends just post the arrest summary online?
As I curiously peeked at the police update my friend shared, oblivious to any family drama stewing back home without me, I wondered if I would recognize the name. And then, as I read my brother’s name and age and reason for the arrest, all I could think of was, “Is he really only four years younger than me?”
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When you have a family member with a drug addiction, you can pray every day that he gets better, but at the same time you are always ready for another arrest, more bad behavior, maybe a phone call that he’s dead. You want every rehab to be the one that sticks, but you know it probably won’t. You want your mom to get strong and push back, but you know she can’t. And so, when he’s good, or pretending to be good, you take a lot of pictures when you see him and create a great story for the kids and pray some more that they won’t have to attend their uncle’s funeral before they graduate from high school—or middle school—or 5th grade.
Addiction sucks. I hug my kids so tight and wonder how I can protect them from that path. Addiction doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care how much money you have, the color of your skin, or how many people love you. It eats you away, bit by bit, year by year until you are unrecognizable. Addiction not only destroys individuals, it destroys their families. The fighting, the silence, the denial, the blame. Endless.
There’s no right way to deal with addiction. For me, I take a survival approach. If I think about it too much, it’s soul-crushing. If I try to talk about it, nothing is accomplished and feelings are hurt—mine, my mom's, my sisters'. So, instead, I will madly love on my kids and pray hard at church. And then I leave it there. It’s in God hands and I pray that my brother can find the path that God has laid out for him. And, until then, thanks to social media, I’ll keep distant but virtual tabs on his progress.
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