Enabling is the sin of the weak – that’s what the anger wants to say right now.
In actuality, emotion is secondary to the logic required of the situation.
Here’s the situation. My brother has been dealing with a mental illness for almost three years. After the initial acute psychotic episode, his illness has been managed through medication quite successfully. However, between tolerance build-up, his mixing of this medication with weed and only taking two-thirds of the prescribed dosage, something was bound to happen. About two months ago, the mania returned, albeit slowly. It was not slow the last two weeks though. He has been manic, belligerent, abusive and threatening.
My parents and I agreed that we would work together as a team, as a support system for each other to combat this. We all spent too many years thinking we could deal with these types of things on our own, but in fact, we just made it about ourselves, failed in the process and ended up alone in failure. Together, even in failure, we would be together. Today, they broke that deal.
I thought that they were ready; they were so close to being ready. After two weeks with no turning around, I thought that they would be strong enough to bring in the police and have my brother committed – the only way he could get the help he needs. I spoke to the school psychologist and a local police lieutenant, who both believe that the steps to take to get my brother that help started with involving the police. Instead, they gave in. They gave in to his demands (that had become specific of the abusive belligerence of the last two days) for money to “get his life started again.” As I wrote a couple of days ago, I understand that this monster we are experiencing is his blackness and not him. But now it has power. Now, his blackness knows that with enough bile and blood and black-and-blue, it will get what it wants. They have enabled the behaviour. And by doing so, they have not just delayed the inevitable, they have strengthened his blackness and next time (because there will very likely be a next time), it will take us all for an even more intense roller coaster ride of death and destruction. And I do mean all of us, because even though they got the worst of it, they are not the only ones affected, not by a fucking long shot.
It is true that my brother (after receiving Family Doctor’s feedback about the low medicine levels in his blood tests) went back up to the full prescribed dosage and that it may take this delay for them to kick back in, but Family Doctor also said that full dosage wouldn’t be enough to undo the damage my brother did by filling out his own prescription form for the last while. It is also true that my parents took the brunt of his abuse for the two weeks, since I was clearly a stressor for my brother and therefore had to stay away, but I was still there to give them strength. I gave them books, I gave them strategies, I gave them hotlines, I gave them my love. These weren’t enough. They aren’t ready. There is no logic to my parents giving in, there is no logic to them enabling him, there is just emotion. My brother doesn’t need our irrationality though, he needs our strength; he needs our resolve to defeat his blackness.
Why don’t I call the police? Why am I not the anonymous neighbour who heard screaming? Why am I not the brother who is concerned for his parents’ safety due to the threats of punching someone’s teeth in? Because of the deal. Because I made a promise that we would work together, that we would be a team, that we would be there for each other and not alone. Even though they broke that, I still feel committed to my word. Fuck me for that.
The worst thing is that my parents believe they have done the right thing, that by supporting by brother financially, this will give him purpose and allow him to start fresh. However, I just got a text message from my brother (apparently he hasn’t disowned me completely) accusing my mother of cheating on my father, although he has no evidence of this. There is no evidence for this strategy of dealing with my brother either. They have done this for years. This is just easier. This is just to avoid the pain. This is my father’s alcoholism – avoid, avoid, avoid.
I need to tip the scales and I fucking hate that. They need to know that their decisions affect all of us and by making them on their own, they are proving that they aren’t ready. My brother will get the help that he needs when he hits “rock bottom,” but my parents will also be prepared to do what is necessary to get him the help that he needs when they hit “rock bottom.” My concern is that will my reaction be enough, will it be the thing that tips the scales in everyone’s favour. It wasn’t when Dad’s alcoholism scraped the joy from my youth, when it caused me to escape to my Aunt and Uncle’s house for weeks at a time, when it silenced me and my soul for endless days. What if I do what is necessary, and it doesn’t work. What if I am not enough again? On the other hand, if I don’t and my brother suffers, if I tell them I love them and that I understand they needed to put a stop to their pain and that they thought they were doing the right thing by doing the easy thing and that this happens again in six months or a year or next week, I will forever hate myself for that. I cannot enable them.
Enabling is the sin of the unready – that’s the truth. They are not ready to do what is necessary to get my brother the help that he needs. I need to be. I am not sure, but part of this recovery is learning to trust myself, trusting that have the wisdom to know what I can and cannot change and the courage to do what is necessary. For my brother’s sake, I think this is necessary.