You’re in Recovery and Your Brother is in Rehab…What Do You Do?
By: Tim Myers
Nothing. You do nothing. Nothing special. Nothing out of the ordinary. You do nothing. Well, maybe make a sign that says Do Nothing, and hang it next to your bed.
I’m in recovery. I’ve been sober for almost four years. My brother’s in treatment and is scheduled to get out in just a few days. I’m not handling it very well.
First of all I’m like, “WHY WASN’T I A BETTER BROTHER!!??” That’s just me being a drama king. I know how I’ve lived my life for the past three years has showed him that we can recover. I know that, but still the feeling that I could’ve done more to prevent his addiction pops up.
Having those thoughts is arrogant as all hell. I’m not more powerful than addiction. If I were, I probably wouldn’t have pretended I was superman, tied a bath towel to my neck, and jumped from my horrible ex-girlfriend’s second story bedroom window…twice.
After I call my sponsor, I know it’s not my fault, but now I think I’m Superman again. “I CAN HELP, I CAN HELP, LOOK I’M SOBER!” Good for me, I should be sober! I shouldn’t get special attention now that my brother is hurting. Lord knows I’ve had my family’s attention for far to long anyway.
Helping Myself…Helps My Brother
My brother, the one in treatment, used to call me the “golden child.” He didn’t call me this because I was really fantastic, but because when I messed up my parents would say, “OH TIMMY!” and when I would do great things, like stay sober for a few moths, they’d say, “OH TIMMY!”
So, enough of Timmy. I’m not needed to help my brother right now. I’m not qualified and I’m still a newcomer. If my family could’ve gotten me sober, I wouldn’t have ended up in nine rehabs in five different sates in a ten-year period. My brother needs his space. He needs his own path, his own story, and his own life. I know this, so I’ll unpack my bags.
I’m sitting here racking my brain, trying to figure out what I can do. I realize anything I do to try and help my brother could possibly hurt him. I also realize that anything I do to help myself might help my brother.
This is the time I need to hit more meetings. This is the time I need to check out Al-Anon. This is the time to connect with fellow recovering friends who’ve been through the same struggles.
I could raise my hand at a meeting. I could buy a drunk I’m not related to a cup of coffee. I could pray and mediate. The best thing I can do for my brother is take care of myself. The worst thing I can do is get so caught up in his stuff that I let my own program fall into the pit.
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Attraction Rather Than Promotion
I look back to when I had five months sober. I looked at my sponsor like an older brother. If he had relapsed, it would have been a major blow to the idea that recovery is real and possible. It would have been a major blow to the idea that God is real and he loves me. If I go down, if I drink, there may not be too many other role models for my brother to look towards.
It wasn’t my fault. Thank God. I shouldn’t put the cape on and save the day (because it can’t be saved by anyone other than God).
I need to do nothing for my brother. I need to remain where I am. I need to take car of myself in all the ways I want to take care of him. I need to do nothing for my brother. I need to do everything for myself and the others who ask for my help.
I can do nothing for my brother right now, but by doing nothing, I may be helping him get everything.