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Living Amongst Addiction
I don’t remember asking about him, I guess I knew the answer wouldn’t be one I’d like. But what I do remember is the day he left, handcuffed. I remember what I was thinking, I remember wondering if the handcuffs would fall off of his shrunken wrists; it surprised me when they didn’t. The officer wasn’t friendly, his tone was almost intimidating. That’s what I remember, until the day came when I visited my brother in rehab.
The center smelt like depression and burnt cookies. Chris was dressed in all blue, and not the pretty blue like in the sky; it was a dark, depressing blue. He wasn’t skinny anymore; I could no longer see the bones in his cheeks, or the definition of his ribs, through his saddening shirt. His skin was no longer a grayish green, it was almost peach. Although, his improved appearance no longer mattered, seeing as his smile was absent.
Chris didn’t say much, something so unusual. He only continued telling us that he wanted to leave, that he wanted to come home. And just a month later, my brother did return, but he wasn’t complete. He didn’t smile as large, or hug me the way he once did. He didn’t sing me that silly song about cleaning my belly button, and he didn’t make me laugh anymore. I remember my mom filling Chris with guilt one night, as she sat across from him at the kitchen table, thinking it was only the two of them in hearing distance, “Monica has lost her best friend.” she told Chris.
My brother didn’t stay home more than a month, he didn’t return to rehab quite then either. He disappeared for times, and he would return malnourished, pacing, slurring his exaggerated speech; his words were harmful, they cut so deeply into my mother’s heart, and rubbed my dad the wrong way. So again, Chris was handcuffed and led to rehab, this time, for an extended stay. “It’s where he belongs for now,” dad told me. And although Chris was no longer at home, no longer capable of stealing my mother’s prescriptions, stealing money from my father’s wallet, or getting high in the secrecy of his bedroom, my sister was.
She lied, hid, and stole. I soon learned how to judge my sister’s words, and my parents followed. Quickly, alcohol was missing, disappearing in the breeze, cough medicine was never present, and my mom’s prescriptions were dwindling. The day that my parents had to install a pad lock on their bedroom door was the day that I realized I didn’t have normal siblings; this life I was living wasn’t normal, and it wasn’t right.
And then I was alone, alone upstairs in one bedroom of three, seeing as Kirsten left often, and would return looking as Chris had, with her skin a grayish green, her ribs distinct, violence in her touch. I can remember my mom trying her best to mask her black eye before work. And I can remember the tears she so desperately tried hiding from me, ones that washed her makeup away. It was then that I knew I would never be like Kirsten, I would never be Chris. I would never use drugs.
As the years passed, the incidents increased, passing slowly, like a rehearsal for a play. I grew, older and older, and as I did, I matured, learning from my siblings’ mistakes, making it unnecessary for me to make them as well. In and out of rehab, in and out of jail, at home and not, life continued in a repetitive motion, and the improvements lasted, only for a hopeless time.
I can remember the day that one of my classmates asked me where my brother was, and as I always had; I told her that he was on a trip. And then that girl, who was merely my age, and an inch or so taller, looked me in the eyes and told me, “You’re lying, he’s taking drugs.” It was then that my life changed. I no longer had my sanctuary. School became a trap of mess and lies. I was no longer Monica Paar, I was simply just a Paar. I was then the third child, the final straw of the two siblings who were addicted to drugs, violent, and going nowhere. I never thought that the rumors could be worse. I never believed that there could be something more to break me down, or cast a worsening spell upon my reputation, one which I had not made for myself. That is until the day my sister was held captive, held captive and raped.
The worst part was knowing that the two men were so close to home, that Kirsten was within reach the entire time. The second were the rumors that fled the school; the accusations; the lies; the whispers. I was then, not only the sister of the boy who was addicted to meth, or the sister of the girl who was violent and an alcoholic, I was then the sister of the boy who was addicted to meth, and the girl who was violent, violent and an alcoholic, and the girl who was raped; traded, traded sex for meth.
For many months I walked into the school with my head low, I watched the floor for many days at a time. I could tell you each and every smudge and crack that the middle school laid home to. And to this day, I cannot find the words to explain the pain and hatred I felt towards two of the people in this world, who had the blood closest to my own. For so long I looked at my life as a tragedy, as an experiment went wrong. I felt sorry for myself, so sorry that I laid harm to myself.
But then there came a day, a day when I picked up a simple pen and began scribbling down my thoughts, my emotions, and my worries. And on that day, I surprised myself with the conclusion I had made of the life that I had categorized as once a mess. My life was not a tragedy, yes, my life laid home to misfortunes, pain, and weakness, but I was still standing. I was still pushing my way through, climbing every mountain. I learned that I was strong, strong from being weak. And then I realized the greatest fact of all, that because of my siblings, because of their mistakes, I was who I was. I was Monica Paar, a smart girl who had straight A’s, horses, a smile, and a life of her own. And because of their choices, I never once made a choice that could change my life for the worse. Never.
I learned, I patched myself up, and I stood tall. And on the day that I entered the high school, the same school in which my sister laid her fist to others, my brother skipping classes, I walked in not looking at the ground, but looking at a man who smiled at me, and said, “Welcome, Ms. Paar.” That man held a smile on his face, a smile that he held because he knew of my struggles, he knew my siblings, and loved them even though they made mistakes. And he loved me, not for the mistakes my siblings had made, but for the life I chose for myself. My life is not a tragedy; for a tragedy is simply a story that is misunderstood.