A Brother’s Perspective | My Brothers Battle With Addiction
Growing up as siblings just two years apart with similar stature and looks, Connor and I were often mistaken as twins by the joyful Minnesotan checkout attendants at the grocery store. For me, as the older sibling, this was terribly insulting, but throughout our childhood, I was fortunate to have a younger brother with similar interests. At times, as most siblings did, we competed till first blood, but the memories that stick out to me today are the times where we would spend an entire day practicing tricks on our neighbors trampoline, building forts in the woods or in the snow banks at the end of our street, or playing ping pong without keeping score just to see if one of us could make another trick shot. These days were filled with adventure, choreographed dance moves, memorized song lyrics, and laughs.
Eventually, we hit high school and our free time became consumed by sports and activities with our own friends. Even though we were each busy doing our own things, we still found the time to joke around together at family gatherings and events. The humor and wit never left us even as I went off to University.
Over the course of three years starting while Connor was an upper classman in high school, I only briefly came home a couple times per year due to my University schedule. Each time I came home I was expecting the same goofing around and cracking jokes at our family members’ expense, but each time I came home Connor cracked less jokes and began more frequently lashing out at others. The final time I came home from school for Christmas I spent less than four hours with him for the duration of the trip and went multiple days without even seeing him. Rather than spend any time with us he was either sleeping or gone. After three years of us living apart and hardly spending any time together while I was home our relationship was gone, but what I didn’t know at the time was that he too was gone.
Through treatment and his first 3 months in New Life I didn’t know how to feel. I didn’t know much about addiction, I didn’t know much about treatment, and I battled with the thought that I caused or contributed to where he was. It was a strange time for everyone in our family because it was so foreign and we were not even sure what the outcome would be.
My mom and youngest brother went out to see him after three months in New Life and warned me that he was still a bit reserved and somber. It was my turn to go out and visit three months after that and when I got there he had a bit of pep to his step and was in good spirits. I left thinking wow he isn’t doing so bad, maybe this will actually work out.
The next time I saw him was for his 1st birthday. When we walked into the house and saw him he was radiating with energy and instead of slowly walking through the hall he was quite literally bouncing and dancing his way down the hall to us. He gave my mom a nice hug and then me a hug before motioning down with a goofy grin looking at my skinny jeans. At this point I immediately recognized who was in front of me, it was the same younger brother from childhood, the one who was always up for an adventure, the one who danced and sang his way around the house, the one who you could always count on to provide the jokes and entertainment, he was back, Connor was back.
After that moment I was honored to hear him speak about his journey so far while accepting his first cake and since then we have been making up for lost time, rebuilding our relationship and supporting one another as we each are now building our adult lives. I can now always count on a few jokes from Connor to lighten the mood when I’m going through tough times.