Finding My Resilience & Courage For the Sake of My Brother's Safety
by Ryan R.
I remember the call at work—my Nan told me what you had done. I thought it was all an elaborate lie to make me come and visit you. To mend our broken relationship.
When I understood that you had finally taken it too far, I felt unstable in an otherwise balanced world.
I was out of the house, it was just you and my younger brother; a boy who had experienced enough heartache and torn relationships to last a lifetime. A boy who worshipped the ground you walked on, and who (just like me) stood by your side and pardoned your behaviour because of his profound love for you.
You abused his vulnerability, you laid hands on a child who had learned to close his door at night because he was afraid of how you'd act. He learned to avoid you at all costs when you acted unpredictably. It was out of pure curiosity and concern for you that, on that night, he decided to check to make sure you were okay.
For that altruistic act, he was punished unjustifiably.
I believed in you and always stayed loyal. Despite your antics, your insatiable appetite for self-sabotage and your complete disregard for your children's well being: I stood by your fucking side.
I couldn't do it anymore. I had finally gave up on you.
Do you know how incapacitating it is to lose the love for the woman who birthed you? Do you know how it feels to endure gruelling days of uphill struggles to only fall face first into a bear trap?
The day my love changed for you was the day I lost a part of me that I don't think I'll ever get back—the part of me that believed in turning the other cheek to help you disappear.
For years I suffered because you couldn't control your addiction. I spent 13 years hiding under the blanket because I was still afraid of you. Up until last year I thought I finally escaped the claws of your alcohol-induced mania.
I was out of the house, and you had focused your sights on another victim; another weak, lonely child whom you could prey on.
It was only you who couldn't see the distinct and obvious correlation between your drinking your sadistic nature.
I wasn’t about to stand back and let this happen again. I needed to do what was right for my brother and not fear the repercussions.
I called the people who deal with this type of thing: the police and the social services, much to my family's displeasure. I stood up for what was right instead of ignoring the dysfunctional “adult” who refused to listen to anybody's logical advice.
Social Service asked me, "Do you want this phone call to remain anonymous?" and, for a moment I paused... "No, I want her to know. Please make sure she does."
I endured hordes of abuse because of my actions and the very person who I was trying to help refused to speak to me. Your puppet was dancing to your every command; your strings were so deep in him that he could not think or act for himself.
In the space of two days I lost my mother, my younger brother and I had shamed my family. At least that’s what they had me believe.
The glaringly obvious question which surfaces after all of this is . . .
Do I regret my decision?
No, I don't. I did what I believed in, and I did not falter during an incredibly scary time in my brother’s life.
Despite becoming the scapegoat in my family, I was confident in my decision to call the authorities. I did not want to see my brother suffer as I suffered. I didn’t want him to feel like I felt: I did not want him to feel alone. It led me to a conviction . . .
Have the courage to do what is right even if it feels wrong.
Don't let anybody change what you feel is right: even if it's family. Pursue what you believe to be the right choice. Only two things can happen: you will learn and grow as a human being. Toxic behaviour stunts progression and the only way you will become a better person is to do what is just and right. Restrict any circulating negativity which may make you or others suffer.
You might be afraid to step in and alert the authorities, but you can do it. Substitute the feeling you have for your loved one for courage to do the right thing. It's that simple.
Your love, feelings and emotions should come second when faced with doing the right thing or not: especially if it's to protect someone who needs it.
Protect those weaker than you at all costs. You cannot be punished for how they react and you should never feel regret for doing the right thing. When I reflect upon my experience, I know that I did what I needed to do to keep my brother safe.
Regardless of the consequences of my actions, I did what needed to be done, and you can do that too.
Ryan R. takes a candid approach when faced with the stigma around mental health. His experiences with alcohol abuse, family trauma, and anxiety disorders helped him understand what it takes to heal even the deepest of wounds, which inspires others to believe recovery is possible. He believes that all people have the strength to take the right steps towards their own recovery and he's devoted to being present every step of the way through his writing, public speaking, and advocacy.