So today handed me my first how well can you deal with this new mentality of living in the moment when the moment is shit event. I knew all along that the real test whether I got it with the living here and now and watching the thoughts but not acting on them would be when something really shitty happened. So now something shitty has happened and my brain would really like to revert back to its old tricks of getting depressed and worried that life will be fucked up forever. So I pick up my dog and nuzzle the fur in the back of his neck with my lips and feel its warmth and realize I’m here and right now, this moment I’m okay. So maybe it will work if I don’t worry how long I have to keep doing it, knowing I’m just staving off the thoughts for now. I don’t know, it isn’t tested. But I don’t know what is going to happen the other way either, it just feels worse.
My brother, my baby brother who isn’t a baby anymore, but young enough I remember holding him and carrying him as an infant, I remember my mom’s entire pregnancy, started getting in trouble with drugs when he was a teenager. He would get in trouble then my dad would pay to fix it and he’d be fine for a while then go back to my parent’s house then get in trouble again then dad would pay to fix it and he’d be fine for a while then he’d get in trouble again and on and on and on ad nauseum. He’s been to treatment about five times. He never really gets into it. It started to be obvious that the key to Derek getting into trouble was going back to my parent’s house. He’d get in a fight with my dad who likes keeping Derek the bad guy because that’s the only role he’s comfortable with. Then Derek would use that as an excuse to go find his local idiot druggie friends and go do something stupid and he would get in trouble.
He was so smart as a little boy. He built a robot from scratch when he was like four years old. It walked and had blinking eyes. He made a little motor and hooked it up to the legos and made it move. But he had Tourette’s and the teachers were annoyed by him and he hated school. I think he was genuinely ADHD too, but this was before that was the popular label for any kid who didn’t fit. Luckily the Tourette’s faded by high school.
Anyway, Derek was the kid all the other kids worshiped. They followed him around like he was the Pied Piper or something. He is the sensitive sort, but he doesn’t want anyone to know it. He loves animals like they are babies. And loves babies. But he acted tough around all his friends. They thought he was God. And he had one special friend, one who looked up to him, a friend he adored. They were best buddies. They worked on the farm of this man who was a teacher in Derek’s school, Mr. K. Mr. K was a kind man and good for Derek because he made him act responsibly. By the time Derek was 17, he was a foreman in the summer working on Mr. K’s farm. But Derek had started smoking pot and would get into trouble. Mr. K would try to guide Derek and get him to make better decisions, but Mr. K was too late on the scene. Since Derek came along ten years after the rest of us he was handed anything and everything he ever wanted. This meant that when Derek wrecked a car, he got another one. When he wrecked that one, he got yet another one (I wasn’t even allowed to use my parent’s cars, let alone get my own). Anyway, so this is how it was. Derek dropped out of school and passed the GED. He worked on Mr. K’s farm. And him and his best buddy Brad were the kings of the dipshits who followed them around like they were gods.
Then one morning Derek spent the night at his girlfriend’s house. The clock radio woke him up and he was lying there listening. The DJ told the story of a boy who had been four-wheeling outside town on one of the logging roads. The logging company had put up a cable across the road up the hill to keep four-wheelers out of there, but neglected to put ribbons on the cables. A local boy had been riding up the hill and was killed the day before by one of these cables. Then they said his name and it was Brad, Derek’s best friend in the world. This news destroyed Derek. He was never the same after that. It was like a sadness settled in and became a part of who he was.
Derek told me a story. He went to the funeral home. They were not having an open casket. Brad’s head had been nearly removed by the cable. The funeral director let Derek go in to be with his body after the funeral. He told Derek he could open the end with Brad’s feet if he wanted to. Derek did, but he opened the wrong end of the casket. He said Brad’s eyes were open and he was crudely stitched together. He said the image is a part of his brain. I can’t even imagine.
So after this, Derek kept going to work, but he was darker. He wasn’t the happy kid anymore. He got arrested for a DUI and had meth in his truck. Plead guilty, got his probabtion. Then about 10 months later, Mr. K was going through the drive thru at McDonald’s and had a heart attack, his car hit a tree, and he died. They didn’t know if the heart attack or tree killed him. Derek seemed to quit caring after that. He quit going to work and started always using drugs. Of course, my parents would not admit he was using. He would sleep for days then turn mean then leave. On and on and on and on. Then he’d get caught. Then he’d get ordered treatment. Then he’d be fine. Then back on. In between he married a woman he met online and had a couple of kids. This came with its usual drama. Somewhere in there Derek went to jail for the first time. Then again.
The last couple of years Derek has really seemed to want to stay off drugs. He took himself to Central City Concern, a treatment program here in Portland, and was doing well, got a job, then went back to my parent’s (there is a whole dynamic there too where my dad asks Derek to “come work for him” that helps keep this going on), then he used drugs again.
Finally, after the last episode, his PO told him he couldn’t go to Marion County. That was the only place Derek had ever gotten into trouble, and that’s where my parent’s house is. I allowed Derek to move into my basement until he found his own place, something he planned to do this weekend. He got a job. He did not go anywhere near my parent’s house. The DA wanted to throw him in prison for six months. The judge gave him probation with a zero tolerance order. This meant he could not touch any intoxicant. He could not go where intoxicants were served. He had to stay in treatment. He had to keep a job. Derek was doing all of these things. He was doing remarkably well. He would help me with my house and play Clue with my daughter. His girlfriend annoyed me, but not in any major dysfunctional way, she just isn’t very bright and gets on my nerves sometimes. He worked graveyard and would come home in the middle of the night and sleep until he had to go to work again.
Then this morning, I woke up and was in the kitchen making tea and noticed the light blinking on my house phone indicating a message. I did not have my glasses on or contacts in so I could not see the caller id to find out who had left the message, so I just dialed in. It was a recorded message trying to get me to choose whether or not to accept a collect call. I felt the flutter in my stomach. I got my glasses and looked at my phone. It said Inmate Phone. I went to the front window and looked out. Both Derek’s cars were parked there. I walked down to the basement. Derek was not in bed. I called my Dad. What is going on? Oh, I just got up. Not much. No. What is going on with Derek? Nothing I know of. Well there is a call on my phone that says Inmate Phone. Shit. No. My dad told me to call Sarah, so I did.
Man, she’s dumb. That is the thing about her that annoys me more than anything is how damn dumb she is. I’m trying to practice compassion, to accept each person as they are. To love everyone, even if I don’t want to. She is my biggest practice case. I just can’t stand it because I don’t think she’s really that stupid, I think she is just used to people doing everything for her when she acts like she can’t do anything, and I don’t think she’s as dumb as she pretends to be. So when she acts like she’s stupid, it drives me crazy. And it’s not fair to her. She can’t help it if she’s been treated like a baby her whole life so she doesn’t do much herself. And I wouldn’t dislike a dog because it was dumb. Hell, my dog Edna is dumber than a fence post, but I love her to death. So anyway, this morning Sarah was as blase’ as ever, Oh Derek got arrested. Why? Drinking. Why was he drinking? Well we went to Gabe’s after he got off work and he had a beer. Well the police wouldn’t just come up and arrest Derek for drinking a beer. They would need some reason to know he had drank a beer. It wouldn’t just come out of nowhere. Oh well I was driving us home and I got a ticket and they smelled the beer and arrested him. Fuck.
So I called my parents back and told them and the rest I guess will be whatever it is. I don’t even know. I’m trying not to be angry with Sarah for driving like she’s blind because she does and it’s annoying. Hell, she totaled her car the day before while driving alone in the middle of the night. More than likely she was sending Derek a text message. I’ve seen her text while driving on too many occasions. I won’t let her hold her phone when she’s driving with me in the car. But the truth is it doesn’t damn matter how Sarah was driving because if Derek hadn’t been drinking, he wouldn’t have gotten arrested. I told my dad this. He wanted to be irritated at Sarah for how she drives and irritated at Gabe for drinking. I told him none of their actions would have mattered if Derek hadn’t been drinking. My parents would love for all this to be someone else’s fault, like laying blame will alleviate any of the pain. It won’t.
I’m trying not to wonder how Derek could be so hopeless to get himself in this mess. I keep reminding myself that he knew his limits, but he really has this “It won’t happen to me” mentality. I know that in the journey that is Derek’s life there are many, many choices he could have made differently that would likely have resulted in something else. I have known for a very long time that I cannot control this and that he is ultimately responsible for what happens to him. And at the same time it breaks my heart. I’m so sad that this is his path. I wish he would choose something different. It hurts to watch someone you love make choices that hurt them.
Two days ago Derek was sleeping. I went down and gave him a big hug. He asked me if everything was okay. I said everything was fine, I just love him. I’m so glad I did that.
This is really amazing that you remember so much. Its been alot of shit Ive tried so hard to forget. Its really very damn close to exactly my life story. I love my sister so damn much as I do the rest of the fucked up family. We really are a bunch of hard core people. The best at what we do.