We received this post as an anonymous submission from one of our readers. The tragic story of her brother’s struggle with addiction really brings to light how one person’s actions can affect an entire family.
For as long as I can remember, my brother, who I’ll call Sam, has been addicted to pretty much every drug he could get his hands on. Heroin, cocaine, acid, marijuana, Adderall – pills of all kinds. You name it, he’s tried it. For as long as I can remember, his drug addiction has also torn my life apart.
To see someone you love voluntarily hurt themselves is one of the worst experiences I’ve ever had to endure.
From the outside looking in, you’d never imagine that someone in my family was fighting an addiction. We are perfect. But behind the façade of our well furnished mansion lies a secret that is not only killing my brother, but is also killing me, my older sister, my mother and my dad.
What follows is a letter I wrote to Sam while he was in a hospital trying to get better. It is a letter that I read to him in front of our entire family, as well as others who were also struggling with addiction. The doctors preferred to call their addiction a “disease.”
The things that you have done have been self-centered, they have slowly ripped our family apart. I think everyone has known what’s been going on for quite some time now, but was just too afraid to admit it, as was I, which I regret greatly.
I never understood why all this was happening. I never understood why, while I was trying so hard to do everything right, you were out there having fun and not giving a shit. I never understood why all this was happening to us, and why I had to miss out on so many things because you had to go see your probation officer or appear in court. I never understood why mom would randomly cry while cooking dinner. I never understood the real effects of you putting that precious white powder of yours in a straight line and quickly snorting it up.
But now I do.
For so long, your dark secrets transformed into my secrets, which soon became a heavy burden upon my shoulders. I was so desperate just to have someone lift that burden off, but was unable to because of the fear that you would no longer trust me.
All I wanted was to have an older brother that I could spend time with and hang out with, but you were never there. You body might have been, but you were never there mentally. I only ever had half of you, only half of what I deserved as your little sister.
Sam, I am sure you can see what our family has become. But, wait, do you really see it? Do you really take it in and realize not what we have done, but what YOU have done? It hurts me so much to just have to sit here and watch you waste your life away. It hurts that I have to pick up the mess that I did not create.
I did not want to write this letter to you or attend this meeting because I knew how much it would hurt and affect you. However, I slowly came to realize that it was more painful to keep these words inside.
Nothing ever seems to be enough for you.
When I went to that first meeting with your counselors, I just sat back and listened but couldn’t help but feel as if all of this was too much work. How did things ever get to this point? Is your life really that terrible that you need to drown out every minute of it?
When people ask me if I am close with you or not, I say “yes” because that’s what I’ve always wanted, and in a way I sort of got it.
I got to be close with you by sitting and watching you smoke in front of me. I got to be close with you by having you show me your new bongs. I got to be close with you by watching your excitement as you poured out all the pills from a tiny orange bottle. That is what our relationship has become, and I have grown to accept it because that is all I have ever known.
Sam, I really hope that you can find your way out of the darkness.
I thought that you would have had enough time to think about things when you went to jail, got kicked out of school, got put on probation, went to boarding school, couldn’t remember what happened last night… but no, that was never enough, either.
When will enough be enough?
I love you and hope that all of this will help you. I hope that you will overcome your addictions and learn that you can live life happily without getting high. Please push through this — you are almost there!
Love your sister, Sasha.
This letter was written over five years ago. Today, Sam is still struggling with his addiction. He has been in and out of more rehabs than I can count, and has been to jail three times. But as a family, we remain united.
We may be a family who is still hiding behind their silk tapestry curtains, but we are all still here.
If you or someone you love is suffering from drug addiction, SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing substance abuse. Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or visit the online treatment locators.