Friday, June 20, 2014

Siblings: A Comment That Deserves Its Own Post

I wrote about how addiction is a family disease and how it affects everyone it touches, including siblings. Tori over at "The Recoverying" Addict In My House" ask her son how his brothers addiction has affected him. She used my post "Break The Stigma IV - The Siblings" to provide him questions about his thoughts about his brothers addiction.

This is an important read for us parents. Addiction is a family disease but I know from experience that it becomes central in our thoughts and heart to save our addicted child's life and there are times we leave those other people to fend for themselves. No matter if we intend to or not.

1. Addiction is a family disease. We have all heard that but what really does it mean. How far does it go?

The standard answer is that addiction effects the entire family. But it's more complicated than that. Any decent mother or father gets severely affected by an addicts disease, same thing with a wife or husband. When it comes to brothers and sisters, a few different factors apply. The first and most important is how close the relationship is. In my case, my brother is 7 1/2 years older than me, so by the time I was 7 years old he was hanging out with the "thugs" (wannabe's) and didn't want anything to do with me, and I think the fact that we are not super close has helped me be less affected by it. If we were close, than I believe it would affect me more emotionally. What does effect me, and the second factor, is how they act around us. What makes his disease mine is having to listen to him scream at my mom, act aggressive towards me, and then come around 2 hours later begging for money that I know he won't pay back. The fact that I had to study for my final exams having to listen to "SHUT THE FUCK UP!" and my mom cry all day is what makes it my disease. Honestly, if he didn't live here, I don't think I would give his addiction another thought. 

2. Easily we as parents see how devastating it is to us...

Talking to other siblings and children of addicts, I've noted that there are really three reactions that can occur. Sadness, anger, and indifference. Sadness develops into depression, and these people may end up becoming addicts themselves. The sad children's grades drop as their siblings addiction consumes them, and they try to cope any way they can. Unfortunately, this can include self harm, drinking, and even their own drug use, creating a bloody cycle. When the children react angrily, it's usually from not coping at all with emotion. They become angry, may start fights at school or work depending on their age (don't forget this will always affect them), and in general have a negative outlook on life, not so much as sadness but still significant. Finally, they can react with indifference, which is what I do. They try not to think about their siblings addiction whenever possible, and when they do they don't really feel emotion. While this may seem like the best of the three, it's not. People who react with indifference can end up becoming withdrawn from their relative. Before you know it it's not your brother or sister its the guy or girl that lives in the same house or the person at Thanksgiving or the family reunion.  No difference between them and the cousin who lives two states away and you see twice a year. 

3. Unconditional love:

Unfortunately, I don't think that unconditional love is automatically instilled upon siblings. Unconditional love develops over time, just like a husband and a wife. Sure, stumbles are okay, but if a sibling sees more bad than good, this unconditional love may never come to fruition. My brother is always going to be my brother and I love him, but if things keep happening we won't be close at all. We are not really that close now. We're not going to be the brothers that go out for drinks once a week. He's not going to be Godfather to my kids. We'll probably only see each other on Thanksgiving and Christmas, because God knows he won't remember anything else. So to answer the question, unconditional love is possible between siblings, but it doesn't naturally appear the way it does with parents and children. 


Syd said...

The fallout from the disease is far reaching. T gave some mature thoughts.

Tori said...

I am so glad that you brought up the questions. Although I thought I knew how T felt it helped us and him to write it out.

Things will have to change for T - we will have to figure it all out with my Mom moving in nothing will be easy.

B is so good and manipulating everything - he binges and then stays clean for a few weeks and just when everything seems back to normal off he goes again.

There is no doubt he will binge again and I am quite sure had T written that during one of his binges it would have been a different answer.

Addiction is so hard on all of us but especially the siblings.

I was trying to think of other questions that I could ask him to write about. If you think of any let me know. I think it is not only good for us but good for him as well.

Natsu Uaganda said...
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Geli Ulku said...

Wow, that was powerful to read.Thank you for sharing. I have also dealt for years with a son struggling with addiction and two siblings that have been through hell and back, yet he seems to believe that they're just being dramatic and his life and choices shouldn't effect then at all. It's been a rough ride for the entire family.