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From All American to All Addict—Family Shouldn't Treat Addicts

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He was the All-American boy and everyone loved him. Heck he even loved himself. But that being in the past tense it’s hard to say that he’s a little bit different now. I remember when he was the king of the football field in high school. He was someone that everyone wanted to be around and won the coach a new record for playoff wins at his school. There was a time that I remember he’d constantly have a smile on his face, but there’d be no reason for it. Heck that’s a great thing! But, today it’s a little bit different. He’s not like he used to be, because today, he doesn’t even like himself. He looks in the mirror to ask himself, “Why am I still around if this is the way I feel? The way my life has turned? Why?” He tells his brother that he hates himself and can’t utter the words “I love you” to his mother whom we know would do anything for. Today, he is a different man. He’s different because he can’t play football anymore; he cries from the pain. The migraines from concussions are the worst, and his back pain from getting in scuffles is irreparable. I’m not sure the emotional torment will let him rest…

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There were days he would wake up and go straight to the gym, I remember how ripped he was. This kid was in great health and damn I know he would never cause any trouble unless it was for a joke that everyone would respect him for. He was even the best with the ladies as he could be at that age. But today he’s a different man. Today he isn’t even the best with his one woman, and I’m not sure if he even cares about her or the others that care about him anymore. I’m sure he does somewhere, somehow care, but today he’s a different man. Today he can’t even pick up a telephone to say he’s sorry for the blackout the night before, let alone pick up a weight to flex. I remember when the six pack of abs turned into the six pack of mini-coolers, drunken all by himself, to drown the pain away. I remember him back then, but it starts to fade, because today he is a different man.

We would go on trips and he wouldn’t have a worry in the world. He would always say, “Dad! Can I buy this for mom?” I remember that those were the good days. He was always buying stuff for mom. He wouldn’t worry about whether he could get a bag, a pill, or a bottle. The only thing he worried about is if the color of earring matched mom’s dress, who was so joyfully waiting back at home from our weekend trips to Chicago. We would even visit his favorite restaurant whom we paid to be rude to us… it was the theme. But today, he pays the world only in rudeness of his attitude, or lack thereof, because today he is not that little boy anymore. Today he is not an All American, but he’s all addicted. And today he buys things only for himself, without his money. It’s a little bit of a different something that he buys, too. It comes with sadness and misery, with each and every puff, swallow, or drink. Today he feels all too much sorrow for himself, instead what it’s doing to his mother whom he used to show so much passion for. Today he is a different man…

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Rightfully so, I know this man because I used to be that man. I see the patterns running the same through his life as they did mine with addiction, mental illness, and misery. But the problem is, and key to this story is, I may know a lot about recovery with 5.5 years practicing it… but I don’t know how to fix family. I may try and I may give good reason, but it’s so much harder when the person you once loved so much—and still do—is a different man because of a fearful amount of misery, drug abuse, and personal neglect. As you see in my writing, I’m almost teared up from the emotion he shines through me in our past stories. Wondering if I’m doing him more harm than good by being someone he loves, and that loves him, by trying to help? And I must say, the emotion in it’s exactly why family shouldn’t treat other family. That’s why it’s a conflict of interest when doctors get family cases. I just can’t do it. I break down, I get mad, I get depressed too, and I simply cannot think straight! Why? Because maybe today I’m a different man too. Maybe we were once the same, we were at different spots in our life, but today we are both turning heads for all different reasons. I’m different than I was in addiction, and he is different because of addiction. But, my love will never be different from him and that’s why I can’t relate our stories, tell him how to heal, or offer anything other than a hug and a listening ear. Because today we are different men…

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