Having tough skin is TOUGH! Letting NO mean NO and not giving in. Reporting destructive behavior and knowing that consequences will follow.  As mentioned in Because Life Matters Part II, my brother is in rehab. I bring the children once a month to visit him. He is starting on his third month in. I know it will take time before he is better, but O.M.G…. he is EXHAUSTING!!!

A Quick Recap

After 4 years being in and out of jail, losing custody of his children (because I filed for custody), and getting too “deep into the game”, my brother finally agreed to go to rehab. However, looking at almost 5 years of solid jail time probably played a big influential role as well. None the less, he agreed; I established it to be court ordered, and I got him accepted into a Rehab program. You would think all of my hard work would be enough for him, right??? WRONG!!! He still wants more.

“Misinformation feeds into negative behavior”

To quote the admissions coordinator of the program, “misinformation feeds into negative behavior.” Why did she tell me this? Because I reported my brother. I worked diligently with the admissions coordinator while my brother was in jail. I learned of the program, did research, and found it to be worth a shot. (Truth is, I don’t think it matters which program he is in. I believe if he wants to change, he will make the most out of any program. It is up to him) After arriving at the facility and learning about the program, my brother was taken to get settled in. I, on the other hand, continue to meet with the coordinator and pay for his admissions. Before leaving, she tells me that she will not be involved any more with him but that if I ever have any concerns, I can reach out to her.

Program Rules

The program he is in provides everything he needs. Nonetheless, to show a sign a good faith and to reinforce my belief in him, I took him shopping to buy a few items to bring with him, which was allowed. Of the things he can run out of, i.e., deodorant, shampoo, soap, toothpaste, etc., the program provides.  In the midst of packing his belongings, he forgot a few items (he only had a night to pack) He calls requesting the items and asking for a carton of cigarettes. Hesitant to oblige the cigarette request, I call the office to get approval. I am told that I can bring cigarettes but they have to be turned in to the office to be rationed out per program rules.

The First Red Flag

Upon arrival, I am met by a worker who takes his belongings from me. She confirms the cigarettes rule. She will have to lock them up and ration them out to him as the program states. Three packs are given out every Thursday.

Once my brother finishes his orientation program, he is allowed visits from the boys. The second Sunday in September, my mom and I take the boys to go visit him. While we are there, my brother is begging us to buy him cigarettes. I tell him no, and explain to him what I have been told about how they handle cigarettes. He proceeds to tell me that we are allowed to bring him cigarettes because the workers turn their heads the other way. He even goes as far as to stop one of the workers (the same worker I gave his belongings to)  to have her confirm the same. And she DOES!!!

Play by the Rules

This worker of the program literally tells us that no, he is not allowed to have cigarettes, but if they do not know, they cannot stop it. If we give it to him, make sure no one is around or sees. My mom decides to buy him a pack of cigarettes so he would stop hounding us. I am not happy by her decision, but she is the mom.

Let’s fast forward a few weeks. My brother starts a new request; he wants the phone numbers of the people he believes may be in contact with his estranged wife. He says he needs closure and he has to confront her as part of his process. At first, I refuse, but then I decide to give him the phone numbers. He is an adult and he is responsible for his own decisions. He did not have any luck with those people. So, he decides to break the program rules, access the internet, and Facebook messages a friend instead of waiting for me to give him his friend’s phone number.

Consequences for your Actions

I learn about his conversation via Facebook because my mom went through his phone to get his friend’s number. When she did, his messenger popped up and she saw the conversation. Outraged that he goes behind my back, I call his counselor to report him. According to him, he is reprimanded but is upset that I report him. I ever so kindly explain to him that I did not work my butt off to get him there only for him to break the rules. The whole reason he is there in the first place is to learn how to play by the rules again.

Going Above and Beyond

Due to him being in Rehab, he is not able to be at KM’s birthday party. So what do I do?? I arrange to have a party at Rehab on Sunday so he can be part of his son’s second birthday. I buy an extra cake; I buy extra presents; I arrange things with the program; I go the whole nine yards. How does my brother show his appreciation? By hounding me at the end of the visit to buy him cigarettes. I just held TWO parties for his son; provided EVERYTHING for both; and even bought extra presents so he can have something to give to his son, and he STILL had the nerve to ask me for cigarettes. I am blown away at his lack of gratitude. I am at a loss for words.

A Cry for Help

I tell my brother that I am not buying him cigarettes and remind him that it is against the rules. He is ballsy enough to tell me that everyone breaks the cigarette rule; the ones they are given are disgusting. Me, being the smart ass that I am, politely tells him to stop smoking if he doesn’t like what he is given. He continues to hound and harass me about it. Then he has the NERVE to say that he is asking for them the right way. If I choose not to buy him any, he will just do what he needs to in order to get some. My dad tells him that he needs to follow the rules and let the program work for him to which he is brave enough to reply that HE WORKS the PROGRAM.

SAY WHAT??? Did he REALLY, back to back, just tell us that he knowingly  breaks the rules and works the program? He cannot be that stupid. This must be his cry for help. So, I answer it.

Having Tough Skin is Tough

Through all of the hounding and harassment, I stick to my guns and refuse to buy him cigarettes. I also point out that I have done way more than I needed to do to make him a part of his son’s birthday. Needless to say, him and I did not part ways on a good note. On the drive home, I am EXTREMELY bothered by his comments. Doing what he needs to do in order to get some. He works the program. In my opinion, none of that sounds good and productive. So, I look at his words and statements as a cry for help, and I answer it. I report him. First I call his counselor and leave a voicemail; then, I email his admissions coordinator.

I am very happy with the relationship I was able to establish with her. Even on her day off, she emailed me back almost immediately upon receiving my email. I simply explain to her about how the worker allows the rules to bend; how my brother is able to access the internet, and about the comments he passed. I tell her my concerns about him taking short cuts in the program because he is smart enough to figure them out and he also knows how to manipulate people. Are my actions childish and premature? Maybe so, but I will not allow him to get away with breaking the rules. I am not doing him any favors nor am I giving him any justice by willingly turning a blind eye to inappropriate behavior.

Hard feelings

Will he think that I am a bitch? Most likely; he already does. Do I care? Somewhat. Will I stop doing what I think is best because of it? Nope. I pray that one day, once he is past all of this and is on the right track again, he will see that I am not doing all of this to be mean. I am doing it because I care. I know he can be a better person than he once was. I know that he can move forward from his past. I know that he can get back on the right track. I also know that if I don’t put my foot down and stop the destructive behavior, he will never learn.

Someone has to hold him accountable and somehow that someone is me. I think he knows that and I think he tests me. But I am not giving in. I am not sure when I ever became a parent to my brother, but that is definitely what I feel like. And obviously, that is what he needs me to be because he hasn’t written me off yet; he keeps reaching out for more.

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