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backwaterdogs 06-19-2013 11:16 PM

I lost my brother two days ago and I need some help
Not sure why Im asking this as my brother died and too late to help, so I guess I am trying to reconcile a lot of guilt I have about our relationship over the last 13+ years.

My brother and I were pretty close growing up, but no so much in our teen years and later, seemed we just always fought, so really didn't have a great foundation, but have always at least been on speaking terms.

Anyway, in late 98, my mom was diagnosed with later stage pancreatic cancer and she was given 6 months to live in November of 1998, it was and still is devastating to me, I miss her greatly...she was wonderful.

My dad and brother are/were pretty heavy drinkers, and I have a lot of resentment towards both of them because of this and especially their behavior during the last 6 months of my mom's life. Long story, short...they did care about mom, but not enough to quit drinking and bringing about all the drama. 3 episodes I recall: brother going thru divorce(largely because of drinking) & bankruptcy due to gambling debt, my mother (with only a few months to live) bent over in tears and sobbing because my dad would leave her home alone all day while he sat at the bar, and lastly after disease progressed mom became paralyzed on Mother's and dad showed up late w/ no gift after being out drinking...never forget/forgive that day.

After mom's death, I moved away for about 5 years and maintained a distant relationship: infrequent phone calls, maybe a get together back home during Christmas, but not very close. This was about 2000 and right at that time my brother was diagnosed with a serious lung infection, initially thought to be tuberculosis, turned out to be something called MAI, Mycobacterium avium-intercellulare aka NTM. At that time, I didn't realize the seriousness of the disease as for the most part he was functional.

The disease progressed over the years, he would occasionally wind up with pneumonia, miss some work, etc, but i wasn't too involved. I still harbored some ill feelings from past episodes and invariably, every time we tried to speak, it would usually result in an argument. He was what we called a 'mean drunk' was hard to tell if he'd been drinking, he seemed to mask it so well, but trying to talk with him while drinking was like gas on a fire...and for the most part, I tended to avoid him...and unfortunately his son(my nephew) was the same way, though not a mean drunk, it was easy to tell when he'd been drinking and so, I would avoid talking with him as it would infuriate me to try and talk to a drunk person.

In the last 3 to 5 years, my brothers health declined rapidly, lost all his weight, infection spread to his colon, had several surgeries, a painful hernia, abscesses in his colon, a colostomy for a period of thing after another it seemed. He continued to smoke and drink(i assume quite heavily), but I did try to involve myself more, just to understand his sickness. My dad would go to doctors appointments with him, but wouldn't allow dad to go in...most of the details were kept close by my brother. He finally had to go on disability and was out of work, borrowed a lot of money from my dad. I gave my dad a few thousand as he was on a fixed income. However, really didn't do much directly for my brother at the time and I know it was rough on him for good while until SS disability started to come in(that takes a long while!)

the drama continued...a blocked colon in early 2012 requiring surgery, another episode in late summer requiring hospitalization, a broken hip in late '12...nearly lost him there. Got a little better for a few months, then back in hospital in may, another blockage...until ultimately loosing him here in mid june of 2013.

Sorry for the long intro to my question/issue, but since his death (which I knew was eminent for some time) I have been wracked with guilt about the distance I kept from him...I feel I wasn't a good brother and should have done something different years ago when it could have made a difference. However, we could hardly talk about Christmas party plan w/out an argument...and talking to him or my dad about their drinking always ended in argument.

After his death, his doctor opened up and provided information. As I suspected, alcohol was big factor in his death. I learned he would quit taking antibiotics for long periods to allow for drinking (the meds and alcohol would have killed quite quickly and he understood this). This doctor and several other doctors confronted him about the drinking and smoking and his non-compliance with the scheduled medications, but he continued to drink. The infection turned to what is known as MDRMAI, or multi-drug resistant MAI...the bacteria cultured in a couple of locations, but nothing could be given to treat him...his fate was sealed and he really did suffer the last 2 to 3 years of his life.

Not sure how he stayed for weeks on end in the hospital without a drink, but he had lots of pain and was usually on a fentynall(sp?) or some other heavy narcotic most of the time, im sure that sated his need for a drink to some degree. On his last days (he was in a nursing home, at age 49) he conviced the doc to allow him two beers per day...I heard he had a half a beer or something, but slipped off late morning on 6/17. I did visit him everyday of the last 2 weeks or so he was in the hospital and nursing home and I was able to help him a little here and there.

Im now grief struck...I had a sick brother that I couldn't along with very well, I didn't help much. Im confident any plea I may have made over the years would have resulted in a fight and possibly complete loss of contact, but I still feel so bad. Im again angry at him for what he did to himself, his son, our family, everything.

So, I'm turning to this forum for some help and consoling. I read on all the other stories, that the person has to do it for themselves, which he just would not do....but for some reason, I still feel like I let my brother down.

I'm hopeful for some help and perspective from others..thanks!

julie48 06-20-2013 12:32 AM

Guilt is something that so many of us live with. You must tell yourself you had good reasons for keeping your distance. Your brother knew in his heart he was self-destructive...he is at peace now. Talk to him, tell him although you always loved him, you had to keep your distance. Please don't be so hard on yourself. Like I said, just talk to him, he hears you. You did not force him to drink, you did not make him sick, and all you were able to do was love him from a distance. You have been through so much loss and grief. I just lost my father a week before this past Christmas, he was my best friend. I empathize with you. You must take care of yourself and remember u r a good person, you must care as you wouldn't have bothered with this forum, and I am glad u did. We are all here for you. Keep posting, we care. Bless You. Julie

Tryntryagain 06-20-2013 03:42 AM

Hello my friend. I am a recovering alcoholic and having read your heart breaking journey i wish to put my arms around.

Firstly thank you so much for sharing your journey with us. There will be 1000's of people that will share your journey and many will have the same questions, grief and suffering.

Many years ago i was married and drinking to oblivion everyday. I had many friends, most heavy drinkers, but none as heavy as me. Over years my drinking was causing so much harm, so much pain around me that many came forward to put to me this must stop or i would kill myself. During these years i never once asked how another was. Those that loved me i could barely recognise let alone liten to their advice and words. It got worse and worse. My poor wife beside herself not knowing how to help but desperately wanted her husband back. Eventually all the wheels came off, i do not remember how but i found myself in a rehab. I was extremely ill. It was touch and go for awhile but soon i was getting better.

My friend i need you to hear this bit, it hurts but it may give you just a perspective that hopefully will allow you to feel not so alone with this.

6 weeks into my rehab my wife was allowed to come and visit me. After all i had done, after all the chaos and pain my alcoholism had caused, with tears rolling down her face, she looked up to me and said, "Darling where did i go wrong? What did i do wrong?"......i will never forget that for the rest of my life.

The fact was that there was absolutely nothing my poor wife could have done. To this day i carry that guilt that i had not the faintest clue what effect i was having on others. The ones that it effected the most was those that loved me the most. I had managed to transfer all my guilt onto my wife and to the ones that loved me,

So i have a question for you. Hand on heart, do you think my wife had anything to be guilty for?

I think, put like that, the answer is clear. She did what she could to show me her love and support. I was the one rejecting it. I was the one where the fault lay. I was the one not listening. My friend i was the selfish and guilty party, not those who loved me.

I want to pass on some loveness to you. I am so terribly sorry for your loss. May i also suggest that your brother was very, very lucky to have had a brother in his life that loved and cared for him in the way you did, and still do.

You are an extremely kind, compassionate and thoughtful man. Thank you for sharing your pain with us. As i say these days about us here, there is always someone in the office. Anytime you need to vent or just want to share with us all, we will be here.

Take care of yourself.

Be peaceful, be healty and be strong. Loveness to you my friend.

backwaterdogs 06-20-2013 08:23 AM

Thank you very much for posting, this is helpful to me. Today is my brother's funeral, I am in and out of fits of sobbing..having to look at the pictures of his younger/healthier days, reminding me of the person I really miss...or times that I miss. I know the pictures don't tell the whole story though, they keep making me think that I could / should have done something more, but my rationalization is that any attempt to discuss would have ended in argument, if not worse and possibly complete loss of contact.

I mentioned in my first post about speaking with the doc soon after his death and what the doc said made sense. For all the years he was sick, when we did talk, the info about his sickness always seemed incomplete and sister and I experience the same thing...we seemed to never understand what was going on with and any time you would question him to clarify something or get better detail, he would berate and become angry. I guess in my own defense, he was a very difficult person to communicate with...especially to any depth of meaning...I always stayed high level...I avoided asking detailed questions about money, his sickness to avoid a fight. Im not the most even tempered person in the world and I would allow his derisive nature get to me quite easily.

That is essentially the relationship we had, occasional get togethers, holidays, bdays, fathers day. Mostly cordial, but never really addressing the root issues that were tearing our family apart. My sister and I would become so livid as they would either show up having been drinking or would leave early to head to the bar. I would get angry at something like this and then would go weeks or more not talking to them, but never confronting their behavior. I know how any confrontation would have ended, so I tell myself, but now, after my brother is dead, I'm really questioning the kind of person I am.

I feel just as bad for my nephew, he has lost his dad and though I have been with him a lot lately and I think our relationship will be great going forward, I'm beating myself up for not being there for him. His parents (my brother and wife) divorced when he was 3 or so. Alcohol was a factor as was a big gambling debt my brother accrued at the time. Their relationship was stormy at best and often at the infrequent get togethers with my brother, my nephew would not be able to come because 'it is his mom's wknd or mom's turn for the particular holiday'...there just seemed to be lots reasons. I learned of a couple drinking episodes from my nephew these couple of days: my brother was 'fired' from coaching coach pitch baseball because he showed up drunk(nephew was 8), my brother stabbed is hand pretty severely while drunk at home with son.

The episode that really put me over the edge that I think cemented my relationship brother and dad since 2004 was right after we moved back to home area after living out of state for nearly 5 years. We moved to a nearby small going to a very small small school (less than 50 kids in a graduating class). My son was on the basketball team...this was his 5th grade year. I reached out to my dad and brother to come to his games. I do remember at that time wanting to reconcile with them both...wanting to have a functional normal. They showed up after the game started (dad, brother, nephew(8 or 9 yo)...clearly they had been drinking (and driving w/ my nephew in the car!). I was pretty livid just at that, but, there in the gym, on the bleachers with lots of people crowed on the benches, I see in my dad's shirt pocket, a flask of whiskey. I was pretty enraged, I was so scared that he would fall, people would notice he's drunk, that flask would fall out and slide across the gym floor in front of everyone. I would have been mortified. Nothing embarrassing happened thankfully, not sure if anyone in the crowed noticed them or not. But, afterwards, I chewed them both out at their car and I dont think I ever asked to come to another game since. If you can imagine, a grandfather not dieing to come to every single ball game or event. I couldn't risk it...I and my kids would have been so embarrassed to have a drunk relative show up to a SCHOOL function. I think I pretty much wrote them both off at that point...from then on, our encounters were fairly infrequent/distant, trying to remain cordial, i guess.

So it went, a lot of the time when calling my dad he was drunk and could barely speak...I would get mad and not call for a long while. I would talk with my brother and more often than not, he would berate me, I would get mad and not call for weeks or more. we' have them out at holidays, but would never intermingle with my wife's family, always had two small Chistmas', etc. I would have loved for my kids to be have to have both sets of grandparents, aunts/uncles...but I was always afraid for a drunken debacle of some sort, so avoid that.

Sorry, this is turning into a novel...I'll share more later. It is helpful to write this down. In just telling the above stories, I'm remember more of my feelings over the years and why I was so distant with my dad and brother. I still feel like I let my nephew down though.

thanks again for all your input!

R. Lee 06-20-2013 10:26 AM

backwater dogs, I'm a recovering alcoholic who did many of the things your father & brother did when I drank.

Your brother drank himself to death. Along with your father they chose alcohol over everything else.

Your brother just passed. You did not have a close relationship. His alcoholism hindered your relationsship.

I can only imagine what condition your father will show up in at the funeral.

Don't beat yourself up over this realtionship with your brother. He gave away a relationship so he could continue his drinking. You were there for you brother & father. They chose to drink rather that have a relationship with you.

Try seeking out a support group such as Alanon. They can help you see that it was not your fault. Their alcoholism kept them from you.

You have not let your nephew down. Lets hop that he does not follow his father & grandfather's past behavior.

We can not carry the alcoholic. All we can do is explain what the disease of alcoholism can do to the alcoholic.

You & your sister are the good part of this story. You did all you could.

jenm 06-20-2013 12:22 PM

Hi BD-

I am also in recovery and I am so sad to hear of your brother's passing. R Lee is right - he drank himself to death and it was his choice. When I was drinking, although I might pretend that other people's feelings mattered, they didn't. The sole purpose of my living was to drink because the disease of alcoholism had me in it's grip.

I have a brother who came dangerously close to dying more than once. In his young 40's, he was diagnosed with alcoholic liver disease. He stopped drinking then and went through hell with hospitalizations, body swelling, weight loss, emergency surgery, the list goes on. He was given a new life with a liver transplant but he chose to drink after that liver transplant. It doesn't matter what I said, what I did, who I yelled at (because I sure did that), he didn't stop. As far as I know now, he isn't drinking, but I can't say for sure. I haven't seen him in over 6 months although we live in the same city.

I know exactly what you mean by wanting, needing a "normal" family. What I have learned through this process is that I can only control my own behavior. Believe me, way easier said than done! Today, thank God that I'm sober, I do the very best I can to be loving, patient, kind, and accepting. I can't change anyone in my family. What I can do is be a living example of God's love for my sons, my family, and anyone else with whom I come in contact.

Please continue to vent as you need to. R Lee's suggestion of al anon is a great idea. There are simply things that we can't, or don't have to, do alone. Please know that we are here for you and feel free to post all you want! My thoughts are with you today. Take care! Jenm

R. Lee 06-20-2013 04:58 PM

jenm, Sorry to hear about your brother. With some of us we can be given every chance to get better & some of us choose to through it away.

I feel for your brother & the person who was next on the list for the liver transplant.

Tryntryagain 06-21-2013 05:49 AM

Hello there.

I just want to pop in to send you all my thoughts and wishes of well being for you. These are difficult and tough times for you. Personally i think the courage you are showing is truly humbling. The advice being given is so worth thinking about. I urge you if you can to contact Al anon. There you will find others like yourself, struggling to understand the insanity of alcoholism, its repurcussions and it's consequences. There you will feel amongst others who will be able to relate and understand your emotions, confusion and anger. On this side of the fence as a recovering alcoholic, i simply could not contemplate my journey without support, i am sure for those that suffer at the behaviour of the drinking alcoholic i can only imagine others support is just as vital.

I wish you loveness, peace and strength.

Please use this forum as a support to vent and untangle some of those incredibly challanging places you are experiencing.

My very best wishes to you.

backwaterdogs 06-21-2013 08:45 AM

thanks again for all the replies, this is indeed helping me cope.

We had my brother's visitation last night and things went pretty well, he had a lot of friends and many of them showed, it was a real nice turn out for him I thought. Fortunately too, my dad was in good shape, but I know my sister was pretty worried about him showing up having been drinking.

I am experiencing a lot of guilt about not having a better relationship with my brother. As I talk with my wife and write on this forum, I start to remember better how during the times we did talk/get together, it was always difficult. I've always thought my brother was very derisive, any sort of question into the details of his sickness or life always seemed to be met with negative, berating comments. Even just casual conversation was difficult...we could hardly discuss anything w/out a negative comment from him....this goes back years, he seemed to always be hard on me, he would tease/make fun of me. Before my mom died, she told me he was very jealous of me, I can kind of see it now and often think he was putting me down to make himself feel better. Over the years, I was genuniely worried about him and I think I cared about him, but I really didn't understand what was going on...I just let things go by...I watched him decline in health year after year...and now I feel like I somehow let this happen, that had I not been so distant, that I could have changed something.

In talking about his sickness with him, he would always seem to provide info piecemeal, never seemed to give the whole story. Often, when trying to clarify something that the doctor said or connect various stories and timelines, he would jump down my throat. So, I guess I tended to not ask any questions, just listen and stay high level. And, that's how things went...for years. I knew he was sick(physically and emotionally), I knew his life was not fulfilling (esp the last few years), I knew these things. But, I just never got very deep into his issues. This is the crux of my problems/pain/guilt now....I am suppose to be my brother's am going to answer for this when I face Jesus? I can't help feeling that I failed and let him down

How could I have not gotten closer? I was always busy at work, coaching my son's baseball, built a house over those years, maintained our acreage, and just generally immersed in my own business. I can remember going for long periods w/out talking to brother (sometimes dad), just letting my busy life go along. Conversely though, they seldom would reach out to me either. So, often by time we did get around to talking, information about my brother was stale and clouded and each time I would try to clarify something, it would be met with a negative or derisive comment. I would immediately let myself get mad, become quiet, finish the phone call with some polite comments or something, then a 'talk to ya later' and 'love ya, brother'.....then the cycle would repeat.

I think back now, and I think he was intentional, he did not want me to know the details (just like he wouldn't let dad go in for doc visits), esp that he was going off of medication to drink and still smoking.

My wife thinks brother was very adept at manipulating me and I think she may be write. Interestly, a doc during his last days in hospital that really didnt know ed very long at was discussing his release with me. He told how he was challenge to treat and his ability to be released was borderline because he was "very smart and able to manipulate"

Can anyone help me with this? maybe Im just looking for a good excuse as to why I did what I did...but looking at things now, I feel I should have been able to get thru all his B.S. and been more assertive...but I tell myself that for sure, it would have just been a bigger fight, followed by a longer interval of loss of contact.

Is this common for addicted people? Could I have really inserted myself in his situation/medical condition to a point that it would have made a difference?

thanks for all the help!

Tryntryagain 06-21-2013 12:47 PM

Hello Backwaterdogs.

This may sound weird, but follow me if you will?

Imagine this. Imagine you had something that you wanted more than anything else. Rightly or wrongly, imagine that. It could be the love of your wife, your children, your pets, even what food you like. By identifying in your soul what "does it for you", you would do "anything" to facilitate aquiring what is was you wanted. Any tactic that enabled you, you would persue. It is the same for the alcoholic. They will use any means at their disposal to get "what they want".

Alcoholism has not a shred of respect, not for the user, or for those that love the user, or those trying to love the user. Once in its grip, the addict will "fall in love with it". Imagine when you have been in "love", you would do anything to promote it.

A long time ago i went to an open air theatre. It had a stage with stage curtains that drew back with each performance. There were about 300 people at this particular performance and at the start of the next act the curtains failed to open fully. To the audiences surprise a drunken man stumbled onto the stage. People where looking around for security as if to say "the man is drunk, he shouldn't be here, get him off". However, people somehow recognised something else was going on.

The man was shouting at someone behind the curtain, as if he was rowing. He said things like, "you promised me........i gave you my said you would never leave made me believe i meant everything to made me think you would always be here for me. OK....i will give you one last chance"

Well for all our lives we thought he was screaming at his partner behind the unopened curtain.

After 20 minutes of sheer hell, where people in the audience were becoming incredibly uncomfortable, we felt for the lady he was talking to.

The curtains finally opened to reveal a stool with a bottle of rum on it.

My friend, once an alcoholic is gripped by this fatal disease, our minds our not our own, and we will do anything, absolutely anything, just for that drink. I suggest the more love that is profiteered to a drinking alcoholic, the more manipulative we become.

You made no mistakes, you did nothing wrong. You did your best. As an alcoholic who pain, being manipulative comes with the territory. No i am not proud of my own manipulative behaviour, but it is the truth. I would have sold my Grandmother at one time, just for a drink.

I did not care what that made my Grandmother feel. I am sorry to be so blunt, but as families and loved ones of this evil disease, you deserve the truth.

Whilst in the grip of alcoholism, it is not so much "we don't care", we just couldn't. We had been "taken over".

Backwaterdogs, please stop chasing answers you will not find. It will hurt you. You have been hurt enough.

This disease kills. Do not let it allow it to make you feel it was some wrong doing, or not doing, on your behalf that contributed to this. It didn't. Please, do not berate yourself. What has befallen you is something i could not comprehend, you have my love and my thoughts, but you will not find any blame at your door. Sadness, confusion, pain and anger, but my friend, there was no more you could have done.

Rest Backwaterdogs, rest from this.

Be peaceful, be healthy and be strong. Loveness to you.

1418 06-21-2013 08:09 PM

I am very sorry for your loss. It sounds as though your mind may be playing tricks on you. When a girlfriend/boyfriend break up - usually one person can only remember the "good times." There is a reason a couples break up.

With the loss of your brother - it almost sounds as though your mind is trying to only remember "good times" and put you into a guilt mode - although you seem to be waging a good battle against that. Checking in with your wife, posting on this board - I think it is all good. It will force your mind to acknowledge the not so good times with your brother.

I also think that you are smart. You can only contribute to 1/2 of the relationship. Your brother didn't hold up his half - in many ways. You were smart. You didn't keep going back to him over and over thinking he would change.

My guess is that if your brother called you, said he was in rehab, and that he cared about you and wnated to make amends... you would have been right there to be supportive of him.

Please don't let your mind play tricks on you. I've posted this before, but it wouldn't have mattered if you would have called him daily and begged him not to drink... NOTHING you do/could have done matters. The only person that can stop a drunk from drinking - is the drunk.

You sound like a supportive brother who had enough respect for himself to not allow himself to be abused by his brother. I think you are mourning what "could have been" and not necessarily what was. I don't know why our minds do that to us - but I have observed it happening with many people when a relationship ends.

You valued him for his good parts. You refused to be abused by him.. and even though I don't know you - I"m willing to be a great deal of money that you would have been right by his side walking him into rehab if he would have called you and asked your for help.

Please be kind to yourself.

R. Lee 06-21-2013 10:41 PM

Backwaterdogs, From the sounds of it you lived a responsible life unlike your brother or your father. You had the right to make the decision to keep your distance when your brother behaved like he did. As I suggest to other relatives of active alcoholics "you don't have to live like this"

My life was all about me, me & more me. I was a crappy husband, fatherson, brother & friend. If I did something for someone else I expected something in return. I was a drunk for 42 years. I roared through peoples lives.

In the support group that I use in recovering from alcoholism we learn that we can carry the message but not the alcoholic.

You wife hit the nail on the head. She read your brother right. So did your mother.

I thought your dad would show up drunk. I'm so glad that he did not. Maybe your brother's passing will open his eyes.

You are beating yourself up for something you had no control over. You were a good brother & that is why your heart aches & you feel guilt that you did not do enough.

Let him go by loving him & knowing he is at rest.

backwaterdogs 06-22-2013 12:41 AM

Thank you all so much, I can't tell you how much your words are helping me. It is amazing how your experiences are so aligned with mine and my brothers.

I wonder if you guys realize the service you are really doing by telling the stories you have told.

Tryntryagain...what you say resonates so much about my brother, I think:

"our minds our not our own, and we will do anything, absolutely anything, just for that drink. I suggest the more love that is profiteered to a drinking alcoholic, the more manipulative we become"

In addition to my brothers drinking, which in itself cost a pretty penny, my brother was a gambler, so I have learned going thru papers. I knew he amassed a bunch of debt in late 90s and filed bakruptcy while married, but I have also learned he gambled after that...continually borrowing from my dad, burning thru his savings. Dad bought him a house, car, paid utilities, etc. All the while I thought he was helping brother...and I was feeling bad that I wasn't. Come to find out he was burning thru at least 500 to 1000/month drinking and I can't tell how much gambling...He indeed manipulated my dad...and dad was his codependent. are right and that is what my wife has said...I don't so much miss my brother, but I miss what could have been...a normal family with lots of great memories instead of distant relationship. My brother ruined a marriage, his finances and most importantly, his health. He traded his life for a drink!

You are all so right...doctors, many doctors I understand now, all told him to quit drinking and comply with the prescribed medication or die...I can't fathom how someone faced with that information and decision could choose what he did. But I'm starting to understand with help of all your perspective...he didn't care, he'd do anything for that drink I guess.

R. Lee, thanks for you comments, too...I know I had to choose to keep my distance...that is how I seemed to feel all along, not sure why I felt so differently after his demise....other than the thought of missing of what might have been.

This forum has proven so helpful...after these last few posts, I feel better than I have all week. Thanks! I'm very grateful for your time, effort and insight.

I still have to reconcile with my nephew, I could have and should have done more for him. I feel so bad for him. As we have been going thru his dad's belongings and paperwork, he saw a paper related to his dad's bankruptcy that happened when he was only 3 or so. He had no idea what his dad was doing financially...all he knew was that his dad was broke and drunk much of the time.

We started to discuss, but I didn't feel was the proper time/place, so we agreed to discuss later. I will soon have to discuss with him what was really going on with his dad. He was too aware of the drinking, but I don't think he knew about the gambling...I certainly did not (other than I knew of an issue in 1998). I wasn't aware of the gambling he was doing after that...I have more debt and loan slips from gambling boats well into the 2000s that I had no idea about.

He ruined his health! his finances! his relationship with his son! our family!

My God, what a sickness.

Thank you again, so much!

theswan 06-22-2013 01:01 AM

Hello Backwater

I am a brother a son and an alcoholic. I am by the Grace of God, sober and just by staying alive, I've been able to be free of alcohol for going on 26 years. AA gets much credit. The twelve steps of course were a great help but the main part for me anyway, was the "fellowship" of AA. Hanging out with sober alcoholics allowed me to fill the void left by no longer having to drink.

As suggested Alanon may be something to think about. The fact is while Alanon may benefit you, you have a history that is sure to help a fellow sufferer. You are able to bring to the table a story that all will relate to one way or another. So try Alanon and see.
My oldest brother was a genius, very very bright and very attuned to things way above my head. He was a heroin user as was my other older brother (the second brother is sober for decades and is a psychairatric nurse with 3 daughters and 5 grandkids and a swell brother) The oldest brother was killed at age 21 walking down an interstate highway in 1970. Why was here there? We will never know as he was last known to be in California. Suicide? I cringe at the thought and pray it was not but it is one of those "questions" such as your's that can not be answered.
Why did this genius with a full life ahead of him destroy his life with drugs and behavior? Why did my other brother and myself make decent lives for ourselves? Again, answers we may never know. So what to do? We live our lives with as much Grace as we can muster and sally forth! We use what nearly killed us to offer hope and inspiration to others who suffer as we did. We also accept this simple fact; Your brother, dad and mom had the same higher power as you. Chasing the "whys" and "what if's" will result in heartache. This "syndrome" we as recovering alcoholics and family of alcoholics, can be likened to the PTSD symptom of the survivor, they "why me and not them" issue.
This issue can not be answered with any surety. So as said, live your life well and be of service to others. It seems to me that service in Alanon may be just the ticket.

God bless

Glen AKA Da' swan (nuthing swan like about me lol)

jenm 06-22-2013 01:55 PM

"I am suppose to be my brother's am going to answer for this when I face Jesus? I can't help feeling that I failed and let him down."

Hi BD - You WERE your brother's keeper in many ways. You showed him what life could be like without addiction. You showed him responsibility and love. You did everything that you can. We know what it is like to tornado through others' lives, and thank God that we are in recovery and can help other people now. You were a living example of what life could have been like had your brother gotten the help that he needed. That is huge. He chose not to get this help for whatever reason. Please don't continue to beat yourself up for something that was not your fault. Take care, and know that we are here for you! Jenm

backwaterdogs 06-24-2013 11:01 PM

Thanks again everyone, this forum has truly been incredibly helpful.

I am in the process of seeking out some al anon meetings and have some questions.

I'm concerned about my nephew, having grown up with an alcoholic father and grandfather. Fortunately, he doesn't resemble his dad much in personality, he seems to have a very good head on his shoulders. He's 17 and to the best of my knowledge, he does not currently drink.

He has suffered some losses recently, his dad, a school friend and an uncle who was a capt in the marines and died in a helicopter crash.

There are some things he doesn't know about his dad. Certainly he knows about his dad's drinking, but doesn't know about his dad ruined his finances and the finances of my dad from drinking and gambling.

There looks to be some pretty good books for adult children of alcoholics, was considering reading a couple of these before asking my nephew to read..considered asking if he would attend some al anon meetings with me, but just not sure of the best approach.

I would hate to seem him acquire this terrible there any advice you folks have on this do I help prevent my nephew from going down the wrong path?


backwaterdogs 06-24-2013 11:19 PM

Just some examples of the extremes that I want to explain to my nephew:

My brother for the last 12 years or so lived in mobile home. It was actually very nice, large, in a decent area, nothing really wrong with it. However, he never maintained it...same carpet in it since it was new in 1974, at one point there was a small leak and several interior ceiling panels were damage with water that remained un repaired, not a good housekeeper at all, really couldn't afford his own car, my dad always bought him used cars and I think my dad was paying his cell phone bill.

Come to find out, my dad was buying him lots of things, dad bought the trailer he was living in, I know of at least 1 loan dad co-signed on, I'm pretty sure my dad covered $35K of outstanding unsecured debt after my brothers bankruptcy in 1998, etc.

While going thru papers, my brother never thru anything out, I have hundreds of check books with the carbons from all years. In glancing at many of them, during the years my brother was supposedly destitute because of 'excessive child support' he was paying, he was getting money from my dad on regular basis.

However, I saw check after check written to local looked like in the years 02 to 06 he was averaging at least $800 per month in checks written to bars, this is not counting what was spent on alcohol and consumed at home. In addition, I found receipts from the casino one day in 2002, my brother cashed vouchers/checks from the casino that amounted to $1500. The casino receipts were timestamp...starting at about 4:00pm to about 3:30am...The real kicker was this was on my birthday! 3-24-02.

There were also tons of letters from collection agencies, massive credit card statements, at least 6 different loan agreements for un-collateralized loans where he borrowed money at 13% and higher...all in the time frame of dropping 800/mo in a bar, gambling and borrowing money from my dad.

My nephew wil be heartbroken...he was short changed in toys and other material things...when he realizes what his dad did with his money, I'm afraid it will hurt him more than his death.

As strange as it may sound though, has acutally helped helps me realized just how sick my brother was. It is very sad indeed.

Any thoughts on this? How do I tell my 17 yo nephew the kind of person his dad really was?

R. Lee 06-25-2013 07:47 PM

backwaterdogs, Be truthfull with your nephew if & when you want to address his behavior. The apple does not fall far from the tree.

If he starts to have the same traits & he is willing to listen lay it all out to him in the kind way I knoe you would. Do not sugar coat anything.

backwaterdogs 06-30-2013 09:07 AM

Thanks R. Lee!

I would like to lay all this out to him before he ever starts to drink. I want to show him how his dad ruined his health, finances, relationship, etc. from drinking. I guess I'm hopeful that if my nephew sees that, it would be a good deterrent.

Any other thoughts or ideas on how to help explain things to my nephew and how to perhaps help this probelm? Everything Im reading would seem to indicate a genetic component to alcoholism.

julie48 06-30-2013 01:19 PM

I agree u should share with ur nephew the consequences his father paid due to his drinking, but be careful. Too much disclosure can brew terrible repercussions. This was still his father and he needs to know inspite of his father's alcoholism, he still loved him very much. Too much disclosure could hurt ur nephew more than help. He is only 17, and at this age kids think nothing can touch them Use caution. Good luck. Julie

R. Lee 06-30-2013 05:53 PM

backwaterdogs, I agree with what Julie suggest.

backwaterdogs 06-30-2013 10:40 PM

that it is what i was kind of afraid of. Obviously, he (nephew) was aware of his dad's drinking. However, he only suspects that his health and financial situation was a result of drinking.

I want to explain(not disrespect his dad) to my nephew what the addiction did, explain about the higher incidence of alcoholism for children of alcoholism, etc. There seem to be some really good books intended for adult children of alcoholics, thought they might be helpful.

am looking into some al anon meetings for myself, perhaps will get some insight there and perhaps seek some prof. guidance as well. Certainly don't want to do any harm, but do feel strongly he (nephew) needs to know what happened. I will tread lightly though, thanks!

julie48 06-30-2013 10:57 PM

That's good to hear. Your nephew needs to know alcoholism is a disease and that is has no prejudice. Meaning it is an equal opportunity destroyer. If possible, ask your nephew if he would be willing to go to Alanon with you. It may be good for him to hear stories from others who's family member, etc., are in the throws of alcoholism. As u know, his father was not alone, and it is important for your nephew to also know that his father was a sick man, not a bad man. :) God bless and please let us know how it goes. Also, while talking with ur nephew, it would be nice to tell him of the happy, funnier moments with his father, and all the good qualities his father possessed. Peace. Julie :p

R. Lee 07-01-2013 09:11 PM

bwd, I think Al anon would be good for both you & you nephew.

backwaterdogs 07-10-2013 10:58 PM

I agree! We are starting to get closure on the bigger estate related issues: items removed from home, big ticket things sold, most everything was just given away, sold his car and hopefully will have his trailer sold this weekend.

Im hopeful that we will some time now and can arrange some visits to alanon meetings.

thanks everyone!

RIX 08-24-2013 12:52 PM

Hello backwater: I have read through your entire thread here and noticed it has been quite a while since you last posted... how are you doing? Did you ever find an alanon meeting?

In a lot of ways I relate to your story, if you read my thread (Intro and Thanks). I have a bro who is in the middle of his story right now. And hearing your story is very eye opening. I can see similar traits in my relationship with my brother happening now. Distance created, never talking about anything with any substance, large amounts of time between communication. And finally that I am slowly just going on about my life without him in it. A lot of things are like what you said.

It seems that you naturally ended up at the place where I find myself now trying to be... detached from my brother. In some of your descriptions of how you and your brother drifted apart you spoke as though you had some choice in the matter... I am learning from my interaction with my bro that I don't have a choice... our relationship is distant because he wants it that way. I have tried all of the things that you mentioned wishing you had tried... it has not mattered one little bit. We are just as distant (and maybe more so).

I really empathize with you backwater... praying you are able to see the truth and that your nephew will see it as well.

Best Regards!


backwaterdogs 09-17-2014 08:22 AM

long time since posting
Hello RIX and everyone,

Yes, it has been a long time since posting and unfortunately, I am returning to this thread to review as I am again reminded about my brother's death and issues.

I mentioned above that both my dad and brother were drinkers and very much co-dependents that last several years of my brother's life.

On Saturday 9/13, my dad passed away and now I'm filled with all the same feelings of guilt, resentment and loss that I had with my brother. I was able to get over my brother for the most part and the past year has been relatively sane and quiet, but now it's all come back to me.

I'll post more, but did want to let you know that this forum on all the replies have been so helpful...thank you all so much.

R. Lee 09-17-2014 05:31 PM

dwd, You were not the problem. You could have done no more than remove yourself from the situation for your own sake.

Alcoholics are very selfish people. How they treated your mother on her death bed was inexcusable. Your father & brother were caught up in their alcoholism. You could not get them help because as much as we want to fix them it wont work unless they want help.

It is natural to grieve, so do so & try & let go so your quality of life will improve. Try a support group for familys of alcoholics like Al Anoon.

My best friend died a few years ago of alcoholism. I had known him since 1961 in high school. We joined the Marine Corps together went to Vietnam together got drunk together every time we were together. I quit drinking in 2004. I was lucky enough to get sober. I was blessed with sobriety. John my friend drank himself to death in a maggot infested house.

Johns X wife his sons mother was so bad of a drunk she would leave & be gone for months on end living as a street person. She was murdered while on the streets. Johns son would call me as I live in another state & talk to me about how fed up he was about his dads drinking. This was just 3 years ago. Guess what Johns son is now a heavy drinker. He was shot in a bar & lived not too long ago. Johns son will no longer answer my calls. I have to let him go. I can do nothing for him. I use them as an example that being I will end up like them if I go back to drinking.

I hope that time will heal your pain. You deserve a good life so go after life with a positive outlook & let them be an example & pray that your brothers son sees the light.

backwaterdogs 09-23-2014 03:14 AM

thank you for this, R. Lee!

Yes, I do see how alcoholics are very selfish and though I am not alcoholic, I do think there was an element of selfishness in myself as well.

Now, we have to deal with Dad's estate, a small house, a few mutual funds and small parcel of rural property.

My brother pulled at least $100k from my dad over the years, claiming all sort of issues, mostly that his ex-wife was taking everythiing from him in child support. The problem is that brother was writing on avg., $1k per month in checks to bars...he literally flushed $100k down the toilet, all the while my dad doing a couple of points along the way, I had to loan my dad $5k to get thru - will see if i get that back!

I can't help but now getting angry at my brother, he really did ruin his life, health finances, impacted his son, his exwife, my dad, me, my sister.

How can anyone do that?!? All the while too, he would act like he was just a poor, generous soul that is getting taken adavantage of by his ex-wife and world and didn't have anything to his name.

Im certain this was all just a form of manipulation!

Dad, really was much better, later years seemed to have more control...not sure exactly how much he drank, but went to the bar everyday.

I'm sorry, I did'nt have a better relationship, esp later when his drinking did seem to lessen.

My only rationalization is that for decades, dad also chose not to spend much time with myself, sister or our kids.

years ago when he was drinking, I'd get so angry when calling and he'd be drunk, I wouldn't call for weeks or longer. I'm sure that contributed...but why...why wouldn't a grandfather be beating down the door to see their grandkids?

IDK...i go from being so angry to feeling guilty.

R. Lee 09-23-2014 11:02 AM

backwaterdogs, Please get on with your life. You deserve it. Time will heal.

Sam Bailey 09-23-2014 02:02 PM

Hello BackWaterDogs,

You have some real issues. I mean genuine, for real, short end of the stick issues that would incite any of us to a whole lot of anger and bitterness. Plus (duh!) you have plenty of reasons to be both pissed off and, at the same time, brokenhearted.

But see, those two emotions, both of which have enormous power, can be terribly confusing. And really BWD, you need to address them. All of them. Soon. Including your role in that entire lousy drama.

Not suggesting your role is anywhere as obvious as, for example, your brothers, but in all dramas, all players do play a role. Yet it is, as I see it, the crappy way you were treated that tops the dark list.

All the above to pose THIS one question: HOW to do this?

In my opinion, you ought to, ASAP, get your bad self into an ALANON Meeting. Yes, ALANON is a 12-Step Support Program, but it's for the family of the addict. In these support meetings, you will find men and women who have experienced the same kind of bullshyte as you have. You will meet people who have suffered, or ARE suffering, the same kinds of heartache that you're feeling, that you have/are experiencing.

And based on my experience, there's nothing better than having other people to lean on who really 'n truly understand what you've gone through...or what you GOING through, emotional and legal

Thing is, there's nothing magical about it...except for the very real magic of Group Consciousness...the power of a Group of like-minded people. Really friend, there can be enormous power in such a thing.

I'm sorry your brother suffered so terribly, sorry that your family continues to suffer. Hell, sorry, of course, that you're hurting now.

So? So please consider joining up with ALANON. It is possible, it really is, that the Group can help you heal at least some of the terrible hurt you're experiencing.

Besides the emotional support, you will likely find some folks who might have a pocketful of practical suggestions, legal and otherwise, that might help you negotiate the legal complications of your situation.

Anyway. Just something to think about.

Good luck to you, BWD.


sam b

backwaterdogs 09-24-2014 08:05 AM

thank you all!

I will pursue this...I know I should let this all go, but just can't.

On one hand I feel guilty as I wasn't close to dad and brother and on the other hand I am so f%^#$% angry at them both for what they(esp. brother) have taken.

How normal would things be if they hand't drank? Could we be have fun and large family gatherings that everyone could look forward to and remember? could we have taken large family vacations together? could my kids actually had a granddad? many more questions like this.

What my brother took goes far beyond the money and impacted everyone around them.

thanks for all the advice!

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