I am so sorry you and Leslie are going through this.
I haven't wanted to say anything either, but wish I had as well. About a week and a half ago my brother died from a heart attack due to complications from alcohol. He was 45. He suffered with extreme alcoholism, and has for about 15 years. I have spent the last 3 months preparing for the day when the police comes to the door. And they did. This has been the hardest days I've ever had to endure, which is why I disappeared from here last week. I'm slowly healing, but this will obviously take some time.
We did everything, as you have. Up until about 6 months ago my entire family had spent our time, money and all our resources helping my brother, giving him places to live in our homes, driving him to and from rehabs every few months, both near and far, cleaning up behind him as he drank, providing for him financially. We got him into a sober house in Boston. He stayed sober the longest in Boston (about 9 months). We were all so grateful that finally something had worked. But he decided he was better, came home, and started drinking again in December of 2010 and things got worse again.
I rarely use let my kids around him. About 9 years ago, he lived here with us
. It was heart wrenching the day I had to comfort my daughters after an incident with my brother and answer their question: "What's happening to Uncle Mike, Mommy?" They were in hysterical crying, and very confused and scared. We told him to leave. After that my girls were only allowed to see him when he was sober. But they just couldn't look him in the eye anymore, or play with him or talk to him like they use to. I was not going to let my children witness that ever again.
We stopped helping him about 6 months ago, and cut off contact. He always knew he could call us
, but we stopped keeping track (as much as we could), cleaning up the messes, and watching him kill himself, and tried to create some kind of life that didn't involve looking after him all the time. It was very painful to do this to him. And he begged us
In alanon, they tell us
, not to give anything, including money, items, or even too much of our time and it took me about a year to realize, that everything I was doing was only making it worse, enabling him and making excuses for him. Seems like the worse thing to do, yes. And it took me a long time to not help. I really wish I could have done more, but I know I couldn't. No one could. There really is nothing you can do once the power of drugs and alcohol take over. And it rips families apart, and causes so much pain all around, even for the young kids.
He stopped asking to live with all of us
and tried so hard to get sober and stay sober on his own. The alcohol has gripped him to point of no return and his rooms that he left in our homes, became storage units while he roamed from town to town and motel to motel working as a traveling car salesman. He was so talented when it came to sales and business.
He never did reach bottom, even though he had lived homeless up until about a month ago when social services got him an apartment after another sobering up period and a week long stay in the hospital, which we thought was to sober up. No, it was his heart and blood pressure.
So I am thankful and very grateful that even though he was alone when he died, he had a roof over his head and was sober.
I wonder, if
we had cut him off sooner, would he have gotten to the point he did? That I will never know. But now I feel guilty that maybe should have listened to the counselors at the rehabs a little more.
I miss my brother so MUCH, and I am trying so hard not to feel guilty, to focus on the good times from so long ago, and to let go of the "where's Mike? Is he ok?" questions that have haunted my mind every day for years. But that is very hard to do.
Like you, I've been carrying this around with me for a LONG time, never really wanting to speak of it, but only to a select few. But now more than ever, I see the importance of educating and sharing my brothers' and my family's story so that hopefully it will help another. If
you ever have any questions, please do not hesitate to post. There are others' that are going through or have gone through the same as you.
But I can tell you this. You should never have to adapt to anyone's addiction. You just need to adapt to pain that is caused from it.