My Brother, The Alcoholic

May 21, 2010
It is commonly believed that God works in mysterious ways. I am a firm upholder of this notion. Throughout my life, I have sought the deeper meaning in everyday situations and searched for the truth. I assumed my revelation had not yet arrived, but I would quickly discover I was blind to my own blessing. My half-brother Patrick, whom I always thought of as a deadbeat, would surprisingly reveal to me his true self. With this blessing, I examined who my true self was and how I can empower my inner being.

Growing up, I seldom saw my half-brother Patrick. He is 18 years my senior and not exactly classified as a positive role model. Patrick is the miracle of my father’s first marriage. With a family that loved him unconditionally and a strong Catholic background, Patrick’s life blossomed potential. Our father married my mother when Patrick was seven. Unfortunately, our father had to work excessively in order to support both of his families. My father solely put his children first and spent as much time with us as he could. He even coached Patrick’s basketball teams. But sports and other nurturing activities would soon take the back burner. Patrick began drinking alcohol in his teen years. His partying habits escalated into a full on addiction to alcohol sometime during his mid-20's. Patrick’s growing potential as a child of God would soon come to a halt. Addiction took control of his life. He lost touch of who he was and what he could of been. Addicts are unable to see beyond themselves. Addicts grow selfish and do not sense the hurt they cause their loved ones.

Patrick made many senseless decisions because of his addiction. He neglected God’s love and disregarded his family. Although I rarely saw him, I could not stand Patrick’s presence. I was disgusted by his existence. How could someone with a caring, loving family waste the life God blessed them with for a 24 pack of Keystone Ice? Numerous members of our family offered Patrick personal and professional help. I was appalled by Patrick’s selfishness and was unable to recognize any of his goodness. Patrick and I bickered often and I avoided him at all possible costs. Alcoholism is highly heredity in our family and I understood that. What I could not comprehend was why Patrick never seemed to want to get help. He could no longer sustain a normal lifestyle or hardly hold a decent job. My father continually saved Patrick from whatever bizarre crisis he got himself into. I never pitied Patrick. I questioned my quality of person, because I was a caring Catholic girl who always had hope for others no matter what their struggle was. I never had hope for Patrick. All I saw was a selfish alcoholic loser, not a brother of mine or a child of God. I once read,

“Whoever does not care for his own relatives, especially his own family members, has turned against the faith and is worse than someone who does not believe in God.”-1 Timothy 5:8 It was then I realized my bitterness towards Patrick was wrong. My ignorance to his goodness and my rejection of him as my brother were sins. This verse provoked me to look inside of myself and reevaluate my relationship with Patrick. My views of Patrick would soon transform.

Over this past summer, my moment of revelation came very unexpectedly. My full brother, Dustin, consistently made the effort to spend time with Patrick. He called Patrick frequently, sincerely cared about him, had deep conversations with him, and truly treated Patrick as a full brother. I was completely puzzled by Dustin’s kind, selfless actions. He persistently demanded that I addressed Patrick as a brother instead of a half brother. I began to understand Dustin’s advice. I could easily lend a helping hand to any troubled stranger, but I found it extremely difficult to cooperate with Patrick. I slowly opened my mind to accepting Patrick in my life. Dustin’s inspirational words gave me new insight. God works in mysterious ways and I felt He had a purpose for Patrick being in my life. I initiated considerate conversations with Patrick and started to see him as my brother. I called Patrick often and began to deeply care for his well-being. Patrick proved himself to me as a child of God who desperately needed love. He displayed his compassion towards me by reminding me he loves me and constantly checking up on me. Patrick is always in my prayers. He may not seem like he wants help with his addiction, but when he does I will be there for him. I believe with my whole heart that God loves Patrick and has a special plan for him.

Never would it have been imagined that my revelation would be delivered through Patrick. Once thought of as a complete disaster in my eyes, Patrick demonstrated sincerity and love when I finally saw him as a person. Society is quick to judge the homeless, addicts, and others who are suffering. What people forget is that there is much more underneath the outside layer. I believe those less fortunate and the ones sometimes deemed as losers are here to test our strength and courage. My relationship with my brother Patrick allowed me to become a better person and see a whole new side of myself, a tender and benevolent side. Patrick and I learned from each other. All it can take to help others is just to be there, just letting them know you care can mean the world to them. Author Sue Patton Thoele said, “ Deep listening is miraculous for both listener and speaker. When someone receives us with open-hearted, non-judging, intensely interested listening, our spirits expand.” I hope Patrick feels a similar impact to this quote and knows he always has a sister who loves him. My experience with Patrick has molded me into a more affectionate and empathetic person. I am incredibly thankful to have been blessed with not only one, but two outstanding brothers.

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