My two oldest brothers are the prodigal sons–the boys who left home too early, squandered their fortunes, and returned home after everything was lost. And just like in the biblical story, my parents had many celebratory feasts welcoming them back, believing as they were told, that this time would be different.
The story of the prodigal son is one I learned while growing up Catholic. And although these days my religious ethnicity is somewhere around the equation of 80% atheist/15% agnostic/4% believer/1 % Satanist, I still think the Holy Bible has some good points. Hey, our influences are our influences.
Donnie and David are big influences in my life. Bigger than religion. They’re real-life examples of what not to do. What paths not to take. In them, I see two adult men with broken families of their own and a lack of personal pride and responsibility. They also both suffer from drug and alcohol addictions. And I hate them for it. They just can’t get their shit together and I resent them for it. They’re supposed to be older, wiser and supportive, but I’m the one who’s smarter, wiser, and better than. I’m the good son (technically, daughter) dammit!
My brothers and I did not exactly have the same upbringing. First of all, we’re half-siblings. They’re my father’s sons from his first marriage. And they’re more than 10 years older than me. My dad divorced their mom. My dad also suffered from addictions. Their mother also suffers from addiction. And even though my dad has done more than his best to raise the kind of men he’d be proud to call his sons, these boys are in a vacuum of pain that no one can get them out of.
Pain is the culprit, right? I just don’t know how else to rationalize my brothers’ behavior. What makes a person so unable to take care of their own life? I hate them for being the kind of siblings I don’t brag about and I also wonder how they broke beyond repair.
The problem is that every time I pass judgment on my two oldest brothers, cast those stones, I realize I am no different. I know the restorative power of drinking and doing drugs. God the escape. You just don’t know unless you’ve felt its deliverance. Deliverance. ‘I do declare that this drink has lifted my spirits’ even though I’m crying…I feel goood! And what compelled me to take more than one? Pain! That fierce enemy! So it might just be true that pain is what leads a person to drink too much, to eat too much, to do too many drugs. Because I can attest from my own minor dalliances that this shit makes you feel good. No need to be poetic about it. Even when you’re feeling bad, this shit makes you feel great. Tony the Tiger grrrreat. Invincible. Incapable of feeling pain or sadness or disappointment. You feel powerful. Strong. Mighty. No matter what will you feel like the next morning.
Some days I feel like I could do it all the time. Consume to oblivion. Drink. The. Magical. Elixir. And yet I hate my brothers for making this their habit. The basis of their lives. Of our lives. And I understand the appeal the entire time.
“I tell my love to wreck it all/Cut out all the ropes and let me fall/My, my, my, my, my, my, my, my/Right in the moment this order’s tall/Who will love you?/Who will fight?/Who will fall far behind?”