Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Collateral damage

When I was living with my dad after wasband and I split up, my brother landed there for awhile too, for similar reasons.  His marriage broke up because, as we all learned with varying degrees of surprise, that he was a drug addict - first percocets, and then oxycontin.  My dad was the one who pulled him out of the back of his pickup truck, where he was sleeping on a piece of styrofoam after my sister-in-law pulled a midnight move with her kids to get away from him, and got him into a rehab program.  When he got out of rehab, we were sleeping on opposite ends of the pool table in our dad's games room while we were trying to figure out what we were each going to do next.

He met a girl who was married to an alcoholic.  She had five kids and no life, and fell head over heels in love with my brother, who is gregarious and attentive and has known since he started talking what to say to everyone without meaning a damn thing he said.  The one thing they had in common was that they were both completely into him.  He didn't balk when she started bringing her kids over on the weekends and began telling them that this was going to be their new daddy.  He even bought her a ring for her birthday, and went with her when she got his name tattooed on her ring finger to wear under her wedding band.

If she'd been less into him, she would have seen him slipping back towards addiction, and would have realized the money that started going missing from her wallet wasn't her fifteen year old scoring the occasional twenty, or her husband taking money for gas or smokes without asking her.  My dad and I both recognized the missing money, and tried to tell her, but she refused to listen.  One day she texted me with the words "Ur bro just broke my heart.  Told me bye & not to call him again."  She came by my dad's house later, crying and half in the bag.  I had to call her husband to come and get her, and lie about being a friend of hers from school and how she bombed an exam and we'd gone out for a few drinks and it had hit her hard because she hadn't eaten since breakfast.  I was angry about being put in that position, and told her so.  I felt like collateral damage, because both of them did what they did and they didn't care who got hurt incidentally.

Fortunately for me, I had just started work and was saving for first and last month's rent, and wasn't around too much longer, so we never really came face to face again.  She would send me the occasional text or message over Facebook, but I live more than an hour away and I wasn't going to travel to see her to listen to her talk about how much she loved my brother and how she didn't understand what she'd done wrong.  She never wanted to hear about my life, otherwise it would have been easier to listen.

Last night she sent me a message over Facebook and told me her husband committed suicide, and it was all her fault, and he'd made sure she was the one who found him.  I was all, OMGWTFBBQ  and she asked me if she could talk to me.  I called her, not knowing what to expect on the other end.  Well, maybe that's not quite true.  I expected to hear her tell me she was still in love with my brother.  She did, and added for good measure that her husband had known about her affair, that back in February he'd been drinking and taunted her about it, which turned into her flying at him in a rage, whereby she was charged with assault and lost her three youngest kids to children's aid.  They had a huge fight a couple of weeks ago, where he brought up her affair and told her he knew she'd rather be with her f**k-buddy than with him, and she told him, too right I would.  She was afraid she would attack him again, so called a friend and spent the night on someone's couch to put some distance between them.  She came back to find him hanging from the second floor landing banister.

She's now living in subsidized housing on disability, where she is visited weekly by someone evaluating her mental state, and gets one hour of supervised time with her three youngest on Saturday mornings.  Her fourth oldest is living in a group home, where she is getting care for a mental disability.  Her oldest is living with her, because she's older than sixteen and can choose.

She did most of the talking, but said at the end of the conversation that she felt a lot better for having spoken with someone rational.  I hung up the phone after promising I'd give her a call in a week or so to see how she was doing, and wondered what the hell I could possibly say that would be more than a drop in the bucket compared to the miasma of guilt and sadness and agony her life has become.  And the worst of it is knowing that, after all that, she still talks about how much she loves my brother.

Ugh.  What a train wreck.


  1. No real words for you, but Hugs! You were willing to listen which is more than a lot of people would do.

  2. Wow...that' Are YOU alright?

  3. I'm was a massive overload of negative information about something that was inevitably related to someone I love, and I felt 1) responsible, and like I had to be 2) positive and 3) helpful & useful to make up for bro being bro - suggestions about resources or options for next steps. Totally out of my experience. I realized, writing about it, that all she really wanted was a friend who would listen.