The Ugly Face of Drug Addiction

Five months pregnant, retrenched, unexpectedly single and living with my brother, an unstable drug addict and “runner”.

My pregnancy was divine. I created a save space in our home, reading my pregnancy magazines, writing funding proposals and reports as part of my freelance work for a NPO and listening to Cafe Del Mar while brushing my dog and gently stroking my now big belly (not that it’s any less bigger today!).

I was however, always on guard, not knowing what to expect next. This was by far the most terrifying time of my life!

I lived under “lock-down” just in case my brother flipped; I had to keep my little family, my dog and baby safe!

Often I worried that my parents would not survive the verbal and physical onslaught of my brother. My mother was always in tears while trying to put on a brave face, my dad lost weight and looked like the “walking dead”. My brother would throw his plate of food against the walls, verbally abuse my parents and threaten to kill himself…it was horrific!

At night I would sometimes move my bed in front of my door – just in case he went insane. Anxiety gripped me whenever I heard raised voices and glass breaking…

One day it got so bad, my brother threatened my father with a knife, he threatened to stab him to death. My mother was hysterical. I was locked in my room with my dog. Fear gripped me as I urgently requested for the police to send a van to our house. It felt like an eternity!

It took FIVE police officers to physically get my brother out of the house, FIVE! The drugs just made him stronger, fearless in the worst possible way.

He was locked up that night. For some reason I can’t remember if my parents laid charges, it is a bit of a blank to me.

After the birth of my son, my parents put their house on the market. We had no plan; all we knew was that we had to get out.

In February 2008 we moved to Fish Hoek. We never told my brother. He arrived home one afternoon only to find us loading our furniture onto a bakkie. My dad told him that we were moving. The decision was made. We weren’t taking a violent, manipulative and unstable drug addict with us. The enabling needed to stop!

My brother lived on the streets; he was a homeless drug addict. He would ring our doorbell without end during the early hours of the morning. There were times when my mother would let him in and then we’d have trouble…I had call the cops a few times to remove him from the property. It was a vicious cycle.

My dad eventually helped my brother to find a place to live and he was employed with a building contractor.

My regular sessions with the Psychologist who volunteered her services to the staff at the NPO where I worked helped me to accept my brother’s addiction, my parents’ ignorance and enabling behaviour (at the time)… She helped me to focus my energies, choose my battles, control my reaction and preserve myself long before the situation became so deranged. For this I am eternally grateful.  I survived, my family survived.

After my retrenchment and seperation from my boyfriend, I realised that I had very few friends, only colleagues. My long time school friend, Chantel, bless her soul, stood by me, she stood by my family. She supported me emotionally, was there when my son was born and at times even supported him financially when we had nothing, but a roof over our heads…

Today my brother is a responsible and hard working father and husband. He has been DRUG FREE and clean for more than THREE YEARS. Our relationship will never be the same again. I resented my parents for being so consumed with their church but appreciate that this kept them sane; their faith perhaps was their only source of strength.

I admire my brother for the father that he is and believe that he has the potential to be a great man. He is a wonderful uncle to my son even though he irritates the living daylights out of me most times.

To this day he has no memory of his horrific actions, verbal abuse and physical abuse towards my parents.

Illegal drugs will never be your friend! I’ve seen it destroy families, I’ve seen it take communities hostage…changing the course of history in the worst possible way….

My son knows that his uncle was a “badie”, and that he had to work very hard to be the “good” person that he is today.

Whenever I hear loud angry voices in the middle of the night, I am filled with anxiety, my heartbeat quickens and I listen attentively to be sure that the noise is outside and there is no immediate danger…this perhaps is the residue of the most fearful period of my life…