Have you ever been in the midst of some one’s plight that made any trivial complaint you may have about anything seem utterly ridiculous? Where your issues become insignificant in comparison? This is how I feel today about my friend and her family. Such is also the case when my brother was sent to a residential treatment facility.
After I left the Morgan’s house, my siblings were disrupted and “farmed” out to various state entities. My sister and brother went to Lee County Youth Detention Facility first, as though they had committed some wrong. They didn’t understand and they didn’t deserve it, but that aside, they had now set sail on a new and different journey. My youngest sister remained in Mrs. Morgan’s custody – I’m still unsure exactly why, but it’s irrelevant now. I can’t recall all events but I know that something transpired and my brother was sent to the Bradley Center in Columbus, Georgia. He was 15 years old. The memory of events leading up to it are vague, but I remember how I felt. My brother was my “twin”. He and I shared a soul, a heart, a mind. We had a language that was unspoken. Knowing that his expression was caged and medicated crushed me. I know that the suffering we endured in that home battered him and sent him into an overwhelming state of despair.
The first time I visited, my anger engulfed me. I hated seeing him blunted like that – staring into nothing, speaking like a warped record. I believed that what he was experiencing did not need medication or treatment because it was a normal reaction to an abnormal situation, that his mental outbursts and violent flings were necessary. I had the same feelings that he was feeling, but my intellect battled my psyche and somehow defeated the mania brimming, at least momentarily. I had appearances and expectations to preserve, as if I was “just fine”.
My brother had reached a place where “his” world and “the” world had parted ways. The Thorazine and Tofranil had taken his words, mumbled his intellect – it was a dose of brain chemo, as if it would eradicate the psychosis and put it in remission for a period. I had a seething envy that I was ashamed of and it presented itself as a misguided anger. I secretly wanted this cocktail of no accountability, even if it meant giving up my dissimilarity. I wanted to stare into nothingness and feel void and do absolutely nothing with no obligation to anyone. I was jealous of the attention he was being afforded. I wanted someone to dote on me like they did him – we had the same experience! Why is it that I was expected to be solid and steadfast? And yet when I looked at him, I wanted to steal him away and make it all better. I had this empathetic ache for him that WAS sincere, beyond the resentment, I would have done anything to relieve that pain. No amount of Thorazine or Tofranil could do that. Being in the Bradley Center for a year and a half impacted him negatively. It stunted his growth as a man. It was like he had been in prison. These are the same feelings (codependent) that I have felt in dealing with an addicted husband. The correlation is embarrassing, but an honest deduction. No one likes to admit it.
My brother now works for a ministry called Wings of Life in the streets of Mobile, Alabama, ministering to the people who are sometimes forgotten and lost. He has struggled with mental illness, addiction, and alcoholism and now he uses his suffering and testimony to bring people to Christ. My brother is highly intelligent and intuitive. I am so pleased with his accomplishments. It is indescribable. You have to understand the severity of his downward spiral – at one point not too long ago he was living in a bus behind some one’s house and I was taking him left over food from lunches that pharmaceutical reps brought to my job. He had lived with me off and on for years, but once I got sober, our relationship changed. A counselor once told us we were too close – like a married couple instead of siblings. I jumped at her over her desk and threatened her. She must have hit a nerve with me, but considering the sexual abuse and other traumas we had endured at the hands of our caretakers, I didn’t take kindly to incestuous insinuations. Regardless, she was right. We shared so much and I took care of him and he tried to take care of me, and when all of this came out – he felt like less of a man because he was supposed to be able to protect me. He thought that the emasculation that Mr. Morgan had so intentionally committed was permanent. Well, little brother, you have come full circle, sir. Real men pray on their knees. YOU are not ashamed to humble yourself and do God’s work and that is the most CoURAGEOUS thing a man can do. YOU, my dear brother, are and always have been an inspiration to me. I love you.