I tend to write more when I am troubled than I do when all is balanced in head and heart. This time is different. I've written twice about my troubles recently. But there's nothing for me to sort out through my words, no epiphany to unearth, nothing to discover, just release. I'm writing because in telling you, I'm not alone.
I'm living in a story that I've lived in, in one form or another, since I was nine years old. I'm knocking at the door of 50 next month. Forty-one years is a hell of a long time and patience no longer comes naturally. Denial though, at least this time around, is all too eager to take over and run the show. My belief in him was so strong that I was completely oblivious to the screaming evidence so obvious to others.
Is this what my parents went through with my sister? Is this what they felt like? When all the episodes piled up, when the crippling knowledge shut down their hopes for her, when the years of work they did for her and money they invested in her, when all of it was for nothing at all, how did they get through it? How did they survive the theft, the lies, looking at her and watching their beautiful girl become damaged, her skin lose its glow, her eyes darken, her cheeks sunken. How do you look at that and reconcile what you see with the innocent child in your heart? You do not.
I watched my sister destroy her potential through years of drug and alcohol abuse. Years of that behavior partnered with years of abusive men. I watched my mother through two nervous breakdowns and years of depression because she simply was not equipped to handle this child of hers and she always wondered and sometimes voiced if perhaps, just perhaps, someone else would have adopted my sister instead of my parents, would that have meant a different life for my sister, was it something she had done? That's an impossible thing to wonder and incredible guilt to put on yourself, but my mother did. And she could never get her answer because there is not an answer.
I watched battle after battle between my parents because my father would not give up on my sister and my mother had to do so in order to survive. Literally survive. I overheard them argue often about the protection they worked so hard to provide me, the financial struggles it caused, the barrier they so desperately built to keep me from my sister's actions, her boyfriends, her drugs. But you can't hide everything. I watched the devastation when they would discover missing things, sterling platters, guns, jewelry, precious wedding gifts, that my sister had stolen and taken to pawn shops. I hid behind the door as I watched my sister pull a gun on my father. I wiped plenty of tears and I tried my best to pick up so many broken pieces.
The first time he stole from me was over a year ago. The ring, the watch, the pearls, the diamond and pearl earrings my best friend's parents gave me at her wedding, and more, so much more. It's not the monetary value, it's the sentimental value combined with the shock of someone you love stealing from you. It took me months to crawl out of that sadness, that betrayal. I lived it again a week ago with a missing camera. And the lies. Again. The denial. Again. The anger at me. Again.
His insistence that he is fine, just trying to live his life without the bullshit. Then the tearful phone call, I need help. Then my telling him the stipulations. And his responding, I'd rather live under a bridge.
His mother said that once. And she did it. She lived under a bridge in San Antonio for three years. By choice. A nearby florist contacted us when the man she lived with under that bridge started to abuse her. That kind lady accepted my father's monthly checks to buy food and water for sister. Please take care of my daughter.
It slayed my father's heart. My mother couldn't hear it at all.
And all the while, understand, with all those sad memories of my sister and the brutal truth of her son, I know that he needs help and, like my father, I'm desperate to give it, desperate to save him. How do you help someone who would destroy himself? How do you help what destroys you?` How far does love really go?
I have dreams now where I'm fighting with my mother. I've stolen from her and she knows I have and she is angry, very angry with me. She is looking through her room in our old house and she's finding more and more things missing. And I'm looking her in the eye and yelling at her that I did not do it. She knows better and I know better and yet I still deny it over and over. And the strange thing is that I am angry with her in the dream. It's horrible to wake from because my mother doesn't appear in my dreams very often but when she does, it's more of a reunion, I'm so happy to see her and she me. This dream is not those dreams.
But switch the characters, her to me and me to him, and this is my life.
I never wanted to have this in common with my parents. My sister's son now doing to his life and to me what she did to hers and to them. But here we are nonetheless. I cannot let go but I cannot be pulled under either. The lies, the drugs, the regrets, the tears, the anger, the assistance over and over, the many chances, all gone nowhere. How do I get through to him? How do I accept that I cannot?