A few days ago someone told me – “You and your brother couldn’t be MORE different.”

We share the same parents. We were raised in the same house. We ate the same foods (I was pickier for sure though), we had the same pets, we went on the same vacations and same schools and had the same general life experiences. We have the same brown hair (although his can turn in to a curly fro) and same brown eyes.

And we couldn’t be MORE different.

He got the brawn and I got the brains (at least the brains that put you in AP classes and got your good grades.) He got the people skills and outgoing personality and I got a RBF, reserved demeanor and can sometimes seem standoffish even when I don’t mean it. He is a jack of all trades and I sit behind a computer crunching numbers all day.

Sometimes I feel guilty, guilty that I am more mentally tough. Guilty that I pulled through my losses and struggles and setbacks in some way that I can’t explain. Guilty that I can’t share that mental toughness and grit with him, give some of that to him because he needs it. It’s hard seeing what you warned was going to happen actually come to fruition after years of irresponsibility and squandering money and talent. The same mistakes again and again and now 36 years later. Guilty that I can have a drink or two and be fine and that’s it and he can’t. Why can I stop but he can’t? Guilty that I can be fine smoking a joint and it was never a so called “gateway” for me but he ended up going to rehab for a cocaine addiction. I don’t know why I feel guilty but I do.

Through drunken tears he asked The Husband tonight – “Do you ever look in the mirror and wonder why you are here?” Yes, yes I have. The Husband has. Isn’t that the existential question that has bothered humans for centuries? But I can ponder it and put it out of my head and move on and he seems trapped by it right now.

Part of me wants to scream ‘SEE!’ ALL THOSE YEARS WARNING YOU AND LOOK!’ A small part of me. We warned him he needed to save some money and stop partying and eating out every day, told him he needed to get his license back and save for a car and an apartment on his own (not with a crazy girlfriend) and take better care of himself. Told him he needed to be more responsible, told him it would catch up with him. Told him he had talent and just needed to put his mind to it, told him to settle down. Warned him he’d wake up one day SOL, it would catch up with him. It was all on deaf ears.

You can say it until you’re blue in the face. Offer help. Offer a listening ear. Offer to be there.  But if they don’t want it then what can you do? I told him I will bring you to counseling (I am working from home 100% so can make the time.) I will bring you to the RMV to pay your fines and fill out paperwork to get your license back. You can sleep on my couch tonight. I will pick you up where you are and bring you back here. We will talk it through and set some manageable goals and chip away at them and clean this mess up. But if he doesn’t want it and isn’t willing to take the step then what?

Nothing, really. You can’t make someone admit something or want something. Me wanting it and our family wanting it just aren’t enough when it’s, really, up to someone else.

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2 Responses to On MRL

  1. lyra211 says:

    I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to watch it happening with your brother. You’re also describing my father, and eventually, I basically gave up. I wanted to fix things so badly when I was younger. I wanted to find the thing that would help him, that would let him turn his life around. If I could just find the right program, or job, or doctor, or even volunteer work that would give him some meaning… but at some point… you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. My dad died lonely and sad three years ago. I think it was the right choice for me to walk away (long before), and just keep the lines of communication open without getting involved, but it was certainly a difficult one. Having an amazing husband and father-in-law sometimes shows me what I missed out on. And watching my kids grow shows me what my dad missed out on. It’s so hard. I’m so sorry.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As usual, beautifully written. I am sorry he is struggling but he is lucky to have you and your husband and family in his life. May he find another path and a way out so he may realize his potential.

    Liked by 1 person

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