Full disclosure: My older sister and brother have endured homelessness and addiction issues since I ws really young.
Homelessness and addiction are more complex issues than most want to believe and they’re intertwined. Usually for long-term addicts, their brains are irreversably damaged. Many develop a form of dementia or psychosis. That is true of my brother who says he likes living on the streets.
Each case is different of course, but what bothers me about politicians all over the world is that they never address these complex realities and behave as though they’re somehow going to ‘fix’ or remedy the problem. And it is a problem. The truth is they have no clue what to do about addiction or homlessness.
I have been around addicts my whole life and I truly appreciate how families get sick of dealing with them. They’re typically selfish, entitled, lack empathy for others, are sociopathic and so much more. They’re lifetime burdens and I see why so many parents wash their hands of their kids.
Or vice versa. You never really know what it’s about unless you’re in it observing all the chaos. On top of all the other traits I mentioned, addicts tend to be pathological liars and manipulate anyone to get what they want: essentially, drugs.
This hollywood-like notion that they’ll one day snap out of it or be cured is delusional and myopic. My parents used to think that if my brother had kids that would set the course right. Well, it didn’t and the pain those children endured is real and devastating.
As the story was told to me, years ago, after my brother and his addict girlfriend — the mother of his children — lost custody of their kids, child protective services came to my parents and said if they don’t adopt them, the kids would have to go to foster parents and they couldn’t gurantee it would be the same foster house for each. My parents chose foster care.
I remember at the time believing they were cruel, but I got it. They were old and tired. They did what they could, but there was nothing more they could physically or emotionally give. Life’s a bitch. But these are the true realities of addiction.
I’ve always wondered why my siblings became addicts and I didn’t. I’ve attempted to figure this out. My sister is 10 years older than me and my brother is 3 years older. I think I simply observed the insantity of that house and knew I wanted to get out. When I was not yet 10 I sat up in bed one night and told myself I would leave home at 18. What 10 year old thinks like this?
I believe my siblings’ addiction is masking the pain they experienced as kids. Yet, there’s no healing from it. They will likely die as a result of it.
Sometimes I wonder if that makes me sad. I’m sad that I never had a real, normal, well-adjusted, functional family. That I can’t call my brother and sister up the way others can and have a nice conversation.
But then I know it’s all for the best. They’re not really there anymore.