The walls were an ugly tan color. The room always smelt like old moldy cleaning supplies. We weren’t allowed to bring in any electronic devices. I liked to play Tetris on my moms flip phone, but I had to learn to entertain myself using only a bag of quarters and trash from my brothers’ candy bars. Everything felt dirty as if I could actually see the germs crawling across the tables. We were allowed one hug when he came in, and one hug when the visit was over. He wasn’t allowed to touch money or walk with me to the vending machine. It was agony.
My brother was a good person who got himself trapped inside a corrupt system. I aim to shed light on a few of the effects that addiction had on my family.
There was a time when my brother and I were children and he would play games with me. We would laugh, have fun. He would teach me all the things big brothers were supposed to, like how to find a good hiding spot in hide and go seek, even if that meant shimming up the wall like Spiderman.
When I was 11, my brother was in a prison that was a two-hour drive for me and my mother each way. I dreaded visiting him every weekend. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t just stay home and enjoy being away from the school I hated so much. It was his fault he was in prison, why did I have to suffer?
The visits were only an hour long, but for a child, that hour stretched on for what seemed like a year. I would beg my mom for a few quarters for the vending machine, just to have something to do. I would sit there quietly, not having anything to say. I wasn’t particularly angry at my brother at the time, and I understood that my mother felt she needed to see her eldest child.
The truth is, once my brother started down the path of hard drugs, we didn’t have anything to talk about anymore. The early mornings of playing Super Mario 64 together were over. Granted, it was more of him playing and me watching. I always have enjoyed watching others play games.
I don’t remember the first time my brother went to prison. To me, he was always gone. He bounced around from rehab to lock-up rehab, jails to prisons for the majority of the time I knew him.
My brother was 8 years older than me. He spent his time outside of prison worrying about mundane teenage things that I like to think he intended to protect me from. Because he was so absent for most of my childhood, we had formed a hollow relationship. It was normal for me when he would get locked up. I was accustomed to watching my mother get her hopes up every single time he was home, and then watching her heart break repeatedly as the cycle of addiction continued.
I loved him, and he was sick. He had OD’d so many times that I became numb to it. Addiction is no joke. I’ve seen the worst of it, and it tore my family apart.
When we found out my dad had cancer, my brother was incarcerated. I remember pushing my dad in his wheelchair through the security screening to visit my brother. They were really close. My dad, like me, stayed silent for most of our visits. His silence stemmed from the exhaustion from how sick he had become. I loved my dad.
My dad died in 2007. I remember watching my dad try to tell my brother that he loved him on his deathbed through the phone. His mouth was trying so hard to form the words. He managed a few moans, but that was it.
I was 12, and in 4 days I would be 13. My dad wasn’t around anymore to be the one who always knew what to say. He wasn’t around to push me to do my best in school. He was my motivation for learning. He was a teacher and a very good man. I didn’t realize it at the time, but a little girl needs her dad. She needs a man to teach her how to stand up for herself and to tell her she’s smart. She needs a father to teach her what true love looks like and how to be a strong person. Luckily, he taught me a lot of things before he became too sick to speak. Watching cancer eat away at someone you love is a punishment of its own. But as they say, trauma builds character.
My mom worked tirelessly to make sure the funeral arrangements were set. She made countless phone calls to the facility that imprisoned my brother, begging for a furlough so he could at least attend the funeral. It was approved. My mother arranged for an officer from our hometown to escort my brother to and from the funeral. But, the prison said no. You see, sometimes the justice system doesn’t do the right thing. Sometimes, the people in power get so in over their head with their own ego that they pull power trips and don’t care who it hurts.
Even though everything was neatly organized and approved, my brother did not get to attend the funeral for his father. I can’t imagine what he must have endured in prison during this time. Unable to lash out, to get angry. Unable to scream, possibly even unable to cry. This experience did everything but help my brother in his recovery. In fact, we believe it drove him down the darker path that resulted in his death.
My mother was the best mother you could ask for when in prison. She made sure my brothers’ commissary account was always filled so he could eat decent meals instead of the state provided salted meat pucks. My brother did his best in prison. Always making the trustee team. Leading prayer groups, even preaching to the prisoners. In fact, out of the repeated lock-up facilities he was in during this time, I believe he always got time off for good behavior. He never got into any trouble, at least none that I was told about. He helped people, over and over again. But each time he would come home, like clockwork, if we were lucky it would take a few months before he was headed back to the penitentiary.
Sometimes I would pretend that I had a big Wheel of Misfortune to spin, picking what facility he’d end up in next. It’s not as fun as it sounds.
My mother believes her son was being pushed to take drugs by the people he trusted as his friends growing up. In fact, I believe this too. In case you’re new to earth, let me save you some time. People are shit.
There was a time when my brother lived in San Antonio and seemed to be doing well. He had a job, a nice girlfriend, everything seemed great. Except, of course, he was still using. And I got to hear all about it every single day as my mother and brother fought over the phone. You see, I learned at a young age that getting your hopes up sets you up for disappointment. It was easy to believe with my mother that this was going to be the last time. He was finally freed from addiction, hallelujah! But every single time, he wasn’t.
I’m thankful to have the memory of when my brother came to my high school graduation with his lovely girlfriend. His lovely, pregnant girlfriend. We actually had a good time together. We talked about all sorts of things, but I could tell he was holding back. I needed to have a deeper connection with him. I was still convinced if I could relate to him enough, that I could help him. Foolish little girl.
I opened up to him about a girl at work pressuring me to do cocaine in an effort to lose weight, expecting him to tell me to stay away from the drug and that I’m perfect the way I am. Instead, he told me to let him test the product for me. I was appalled. Soon after, he asked me to be a middleman to get drugs from the girl at work. This served as confirmation that it was all an illusion, all an elaborate lie set up by the junkie pathological narcissist that had everyone fooled. Why were my feelings hurt? Why was I surprised?
I finally moved out of my mother’s house. No more loud, emotion-filled phone conversations. I could officially ignore my brother in peace. I moved in with my boyfriend at the time in a nice apartment near where I worked. Remember the pregnant girlfriend? She gave birth to a gorgeous baby boy who has completely stolen my heart. My brother was a good father to him. Sure, nothing is ever perfect, but I loved watching them play.
My brother and his new family came to visit my then boyfriend and I in our apartment. We went swimming in the community pool. My brother and I sat by the pool and talked about something we both have in common but I was never sure how he would react to my bringing it up. You see, my brother and I are both adopted from separate families. I was on a soul quest of discovery (as young adults tend to do) and had found my biological family on Facebook. I asked him if he ever tried to find his family and he said no. For a long time, he didn’t care about them because they gave him away. But he was beginning to get curious and for once in our lives, we really connected. I was finally getting somewhere. All my hope began to flood back. Maybe, because he is now a father, things will get better.
My brother, his girlfriend, and son later moved in with my mother. Which meant we were in the same city and I got to see my nephew whenever I wanted. But this also meant that my brother was once again in the same city where he graduated high school, and all his old friends were there. He made attempts to distance himself, but, once you let one in its really easy to fall back into nostalgia.
The time came when he had to see his probation officer in San Antonio. He didn’t have a drivers license so, naturally, I was the one for the job. This was one of the maybe 5 times we ever had to really talk together. We walked on the Riverwalk and watched some kind of game at a sports bar. I took his picture in front of a man-made waterfall.
We went back to the hotel, and he started freaking out. He received a message from his girlfriend that she was pregnant once again. He completely lost it. I’d seen him angry, but I’d never seen him this sad. Truly sad. I tried to cheer him up, tell him maybe she’s wrong. But she wasn’t wrong.
A few months later, I receive a call from my mom, telling me they found my brother sleeping in the passenger seat of his car and they found needles next to him. I completely shut down after that. I was angry. I felt betrayed, taken advantage of. Manipulated. Stupid. How could I be so stupid? I really believed that things were going to change. That we could be a normal, happy hallmark family but once again my hopes were crushed. I stonewalled him. Anytime my mom brought him up I would stop listening. He was only in jail for a few days, my mom bailed him out of course. But how could I face him? He was doing so well! Or at least, he was fooling us well…
I focused all of my energy on my trip coming up. My boyfriend and I were planning to go to Disney World. I was on a quest to relive all my childhood joys in an attempt to heal old trauma. We were planning to drive 20 hours both ways to Orlando, and stop in a swamp in Louisiana to sleep. I was excited. I had only been to Disney World once as a kid and it was right before we found out my dad had cancer. We had a good time. And now, I’d get to go back and really enjoy all the sites as an adult.
I was working at a cellphone store at the time. It was my last day of work before we were off to Orlando. My mom calls me from her house phone and tells me she was in the attic and dropped her cell phone from the ceiling to the floor. It was totally destroyed. I told her to come up to the store and we’d get it replaced. My brother was with her. He looked ashamed. I was very rude to him, ignoring him mostly. My mom told me that my brother cleaned her whole house, mopped and everything. I rolled my eyes, another manipulation tactic. I got her phone set up, gave my brother a half-assed hug, and they left.
The minute I got home, my boyfriend and I packed the car with all of our stuff. We started our million mile journey to the place where dreams come true. We stopped to sleep in a literal swamp in Louisiana, and then we continued until we made it to Florida. We went out to eat, went to the beach, even visited a surf shop. I slept eager that night, excited for our vacation to start.
I woke up to a call from my mother very early in the morning. I rolled my eyes and answered, knowing it was my brother, and knowing he was dead. I knew it before I heard her broken-hearted voice scream it through the phone. But it wasn’t real until she said it. “He’s dead! Sterling, he’s dead.” I was shocked and admittedly embarrassed at myself for knowing he was dead before she said anything. What kind of a sister assumes her siblings are dead? I was angry. I was so angry at him for leaving me on this earth to clean up his mess. My mom was all alone in Texas and we might as well had been across the world. For once I let myself be selfish and feel all the things that needed to be processed. I screamed into my pillow for what must have been hours. I didn’t know what to do, or what to say. There was a part of me that always knew this is how it would end.
I wasn’t going to Disney World, and once again, I had let my hopes get up really high only to have them ultimately crushed the finest of dust I could fathom.
The police officer who came to inform my mom just left her there without any remorse at all. The entire police department in my hometown knew our family because of how many times they dealt with my brother. To them, he was just another druggie and they were probably glad to be done with him. I screamed. I was so upset. I was so angry. The details of what happened to my brother that night are still being investigated, but the official story being told is that he had a heart attack.
Every person who dies goes into cardiac arrest, so it’s not technically wrong.
We got back in the car, and I demanded to go to the beach and eat something before we flip back around after driving for 20 hours to immediately drive for another 20 hours. We made it to the beach. I went up to the water, my toes in the sand. I wanted to scream, wanted to curse, wanted to cry. But I couldn’t. Florida beaches are really crowded. I didn’t want to scare anyone.
That’s me, always being considerate even when a good scream would have done me a lot of good right then. I don’t remember what we ate. All I remember is driving straight home, only stopping for gas. I zoned out the entire time. I drove most of the way. I was determined to get back to my weeping mother.
We finally got back. I began my damage control protocol and made sure my mom was taken care of. I was faced with the belief that addiction only ever ends in death. As I sat in the front row of the church, staring at my brothers immobile, waxy body, listening to his son exclaiming from the hip of his pregnant mother saying “dad” over and over again, confused why he wasn’t holding him, crying out for his dad who would never touch him again, hearing the ignorant priest call out my brothers wrong age and my mother yelling to him from the front row, “He’s 28!”, I realized that through the trauma of his death, he had freed us all from his cycle of addiction.
I like to believe that if the prison had granted my brother furlough as they promised, and he was able to say goodbye to my dad, that my brother would have never ended up in the ground next to him. It’s easy to point the finger at others and blame them for when things go wrong. The harsh truth is that my brother would have ended up dead anyway. The amount of OD’s he had experienced was a miracle in and of themselves. At this point, his heart could have given out at any moment without the aid of any drug.
As blatantly screwed up as this story is, it does have a happy ending. I now have a wonderful sister in law with 2 beautiful nephews, the youngest named after his dad. My nephews are the most wonderful children I know. Children give us hope. Without them, it would have all been for nothing.
Thank you for reading.
About The Author
Sterling Nicole Bennett is a millennial on a mission to bridge the gap between mainstream entertainment and the disclosure community. Sterling has spent her life thus far studying and experiencing all things paranormal and metaphysical. Sterling is dedicated to sharing her awakening journey with the world, always learning and constantly growing. Her mission on this planet is to serve others by teaching them how to serve themselves.
“It’s not about where you go, it’s how you get there.”
Some of Sterling’s recent projects include: Youtube Channel Sterling Nicole Bennett, Appearances on Jimmy Church Radio Fade to Black, Interview about Psychic Connection and Astral Projection on Stillness in the Storm Show, working as a Conscious Agent for Stillness in the Storm, and Exclusive Interview about Blue Sphere Beings with Secret Space Program Insider Corey Goode.
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