Growing up, Mom always told me stories. Some of my favorite memories of her are her telling me stories and singing to me. A lot of the stories Mom told were motivational.
I have shared my favorite story from my Mom in the post
In Memory of my Brother, Michael Bass; 1955-2008
Remembering the Fun and the Good times – As well as the abuse we suffered.
An Abusive Father
Dad was not a very nice person. He never hit my mom and didn’t drink. He did however have a violent temper towards us kids. I could write a book about all the abuse my siblings and I suffered at his hands.
My brother Mike started drinking at age 14 to try to escape the emotional anguish. I turned to friends and my creative mindset. I wrote stories and daydreamed a lot. Mike and I could actually be the two siblings in “Why are you the way you are?”
Sadly, when you turn to alcohol, it makes it impossible to deal with the emotional anguish and get on with your life.
My brother was a Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Sober he was the nicest person. He had loads of talent. He was a great singer, and could play musical instruments. He handcrafted beautiful wooden clocks, tables, picture frames and pen holders to name a few. He could also draw.
Drunk he was a selfish, loud and obnoxious … From about age 21 to 45 he spent most of his life in prison – for stupid crimes he committed while drunk.
Every time he went to jail or prison he became a trustee within a month because he was sober. He often called me crying, “I don’t deserve to be in here. I don’t remember doing it. I was drunk.”
I would reply, “You do deserve to be in there. You chose to take the first drink.”
A Reason to Stop Drinking?
My brother met the love of his life in 1999 – Linda. This was right after his last prison stint. He became a model parolee that was honored in the local paper. He had finally stopped drinking – not so much for himself but for Linda. I think for the first time in his life he not only felt needed – but felt accepted for who he truly was.
Linda died of cancer in August 2007. Mike went right back to drinking. He drank heavier than he ever had. Sadly, he drank himself to his death in March of 2008. After a two day drinking binge, he tried running across the freeway and got hit by a semi-truck.
Looking back, I see that Mike never took responsibility for his own life. He always justified his actions because “It was the booze”. He justified drinking by blaming the abuse he suffered as a child from Dad.
He stopped drinking for Linda – Not for himself. Linda was his self-worth.
Why do people drink or take drugs?
Usually to stop the pain. Not physical pain, but the pain from all the hurtful things that have ever been done to them. Every single negative emotion they have ever felt keeps repeating in their minds over and over again.
Alcoholism is like a vicious circle. My brother really wanted to do good. He wanted to be loved, respected and understood. He drank to escape the pain he felt from believing he was a failure. He believed he failed my mom as a son. He believed he failed me as he didn’t “take care of his little sister.” He failed his son, that he didn’t get to see grow up.
Because he drowned his sorrows with alcohol, he never dealt with his childhood. He never dealt with his feelings. He never confronted our Dad. He never forgave our dad. Thus he was not able to free himself as the pain.
I myself confronted my Dad. I told my dad what I thought of the horrible things he did, like breaking my ribs when I was 14. Or leaving my brother Mike and I in the middle of Arizona desert because we were arguing in the car. He left us there for about 2 hours. That’s a very long time for an eight and twelve year old.
I also forgave my Dad. I don’t think I was able to totally forgive him until he died in August 2003. Funny thing though, I always knew my Dad loved me, regardless of the horrible things he did and said.
Am I making excuses for Mike?
I sure hope not. I understood him. I understood why he did what he did. I think he even understood why. Just because you understand something doesn’t make it right.
After my brother died, I struggled. I kept wondering if I could have done anything different, if I could have somehow prevented him from turning to the booze after Linda died. I believe this was a part of my grief. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I could do nothing. This helped me to release the guilt I felt. I did not pour the alcohol down him. I never encouraged his drinking – nor did I hide it.
If you have a loved one that is an alcoholic, I suggest you give Al-Anon a try – Even if just for a few meetings. I know that Al-Anon helped my Mom cope.
If you have a drinking problem, check out AA -Alcoholics Anonymous. They understand and can help you gain control of your life.
I began writing this post about making excuses for our actions. My brother was an expert at making excuses, and as I thought of him (maybe it’s because the last time I saw him was Thanksgiving of 2005) … Well, it became what you’ve just read. If my brothers story helps just one person – then I am forever grateful I wrote it.
Be sure to read my next post “Stop Making Excuses and Learn to Live“