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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I'm No Superman

On Aug. 14th, my brother in-law, drug addict and alcoholic, manic, bipolar, ADHD, PTSD, OCD, LMNOP (whatever) suicidal, father of three, came to live with us, to get clean and sober. I told Mr. Lane that I wasn't ready for another live-in, especially one who needed so much attention, and came with so much baggage. Unfortunately, Mr. Lane already told his brother it was okay.

In the three weeks he has been here, he refused to take any of the free help I found for him. He refused to seek social security for his three kids. He could qualify based on his mental status alone. He finally got tired of my suggestions and got a job at a gas station. It wasn't much, but it got him out of the house, and was a few dollars in his pocket.

I wanted more for his kids, but he clearly wasn't ready. I laid off the suggestions, and stopped asking if he was drinking, even though I could smell it oozing from his pours daily. I opted to talk to Mr. Lane. I asked him to talk to him about the drinking. He made an agreement with us and now he wasn't holding up his end of the bargain.

We had five rules when he came to us, No drugs, alcohol, smoking in the house, sleepovers (with his 19 yr. old girlfriend - don't even get me started on that topic, he did try sneaking her into the house twice) and finally, no suicide attempts.

Those of you who know me, have been around a while, already know how I feel about that sort of thing. Bottom line, if you have no respect for your own life, how can I?

I hate to toss baggage at you but I have to get it out of my head. Writing has been a comfort my whole life. And I guess the original blogs were made for doing that type of journaling.

*Flings self onto sofa*

I tried so hard to not fixate on my concerns. But even when I wasn't thinking about them, they were there in the back of my mind. I couldn't shake them for three weeks. I feared that Corky would try to kill himself in our house. Mostly I was terrified that one of our kids would find him. It was a legitimate fear, that I expressed to Mr. Lane. He has attempted some 15 times before. Add that to his decades of abuse involving GHB, acid, LSD and ecstasy...graduating to coke, crack and heroine, all while being an alcoholic. Am I drawing a clear picture for you yet?

It was going to be a great night. As a family, the whole Lane Gang was going out for one last sit down dinner together Friday night before harvest took over Mr. Lane's entire life for the next couple months.

We wanted to go early so Lane 2 could go to a dance at the teen center, which I was chaperoning. As we all got ready in one bathroom, my brother in-law Corky, stood in the doorway, arms crossed over his chest, sort of pouting and said he didn't want to go.

I pulled Mr. Lane aside and said, "Talk him into going. He's been acting really odd today. He needs to get out and have some fun."

Mr. Lane went outside and they talked on the porch for about a half hour. I was starting to worry if we didn't leave soon, we wouldn't be back in time for the dance to begin. Anxiously pacing, I told Lane 2 to walk to the teen center and let the director know we would be there but it may be a little late.

When she arrived, the director asked her to help her plan a birthday party for her grandson. Lane 2 called home and asked if she could just stay at the teen center instead of going out to dinner with us. A little part of me was crushed, realizing that my little girl is now a teenager and would rather plan a party than go out to our annual harvest dinner. I know it sounds ridiculous, but we do this last sit down every year and I look forward to not having to cook, clean and serve.

Our big dinner plans were turning into a table for three, me, Mr. Lane and Lane 1. I guess because I love traditions, the whole thing just didn't feel right to me.

After a few more minutes of trying to get Corky to come with us, Mr. Lane gave up and he and Lane 1 got in the car. I gave him the "be there in a minute" signal. I hobbled around gathering my things. Oh, that's right, I didn't tell you guys that I broke my foot, did I? Well, long story short, I was running for the phone, which was in Corky's shit hole of a messy room and tripped, making a weight fall off of the bench and onto the top of my foot.

Anyhow, on my last hobble toward the front door, I had an impulse to ask Corky one last time to come. Normally when there is a closed door in front of me, I knock. For whatever reason, I opted to just open the door.

I found him covered in his own blood, with three deep, spurting puncture wounds on his wrist. I saw a pool of blood all over my son's bed. He tried to cover it with a pillow but the spot was so big that the pillow wasn't big enough.

Any sense of composure went out the window, and I lost it. I yelled at him, "Suicide, Corky? In my son's fucking bed?!"

"It's not suicide, Lois, I swear! I got hurt when I fell into a tree on my way home from work. I swear to God, Lois!"

"Bull shit! Get the fuck in the bathroom!" I dragged him into the bathroom and called Mr. Lane back into the house. Lane 1 followed. He saw everything. My baby boy turned as white as a ghost, and fear took over that spark in his eyes.

As a parent you try to shield your kids from this kind of crap, and then turn around and bring it right into their home. We should have thought it out more, but we were so happy believing that he really wanted to get clean that was our main focus.

I am so sad for Lane 1. I'm so angry at my brother in-law. I don't know how to make it okay again.

When Mr. Lane heard him say it was an accident, he believed his story. Still unable to contain myself, I said, "Man the fuck up and own up to what you did. You don't value your own life, you don't respect anything or anyone, including yourself. How could you do this to your brother and his family? How could you look us in the eyes and lie? What the fuck is wrong with you?"

Mr. Lane never yells at me. But Friday, all of that changed. "Back the fuck off! And stop saying it was a suicide attempt! He had an accident! Help me clean him up and shut your mouth or get the fuck out of here!"

He was shoving me out of my bathroom. Yelling at me, when I had no doubt in my mind what really was happening. He must have taken his fear and shifted it to anger toward me because that is a hell of a lot easier than admitting your brother tried to take his own life in your home.

My anger sent me back to the bedroom. On my way, I begged Lane 1 to go outside and wait for the EMTs. I grabbed the phone, called 911 and told them his story and my thoughts. Before I hung up with the dispatcher, I had another impulse to shove the bed up against the wall.

"Get in here! What the fuck is this?!" I asked while pointing to my best kitchen knife covered in blood laying where the bed had been.

Mr. Lane looked so sad. He threw his arms up in the air as if asking God why.

From the carpet, clear down to the floor boards, and two bath towels, both of which were wringing wet, all were saturated in blood. Glancing back from the pool on the bed, to the puddle on the floor, I finally looked at my brother in-law. I mean, really looked him in the eyes. At that moment, realizing we would have found him dead upon our return. I couldn't bare to think about what that would have done emotionally to any of us. His face was so pale, his lips were trembling as he attempted to lie his way out of the reality.

Expecting an ambulance to pull up to the house, I told Mr. Lane to sit his brother on the chair outside. He had already dripped blood through the entire house. So I wrapped his arm tighter and headed out the door with him.

Lane 1 asked if he was going to be okay, he was so afraid. I was honest and said, I didn't know.

The next bomb came when they had the gall to be mad at me for calling for help. I was beyond flabbergasted. I tried to chalk Mr. Lane's anger up to a shift in blame again, but inside, I was really hurt and confused.

Instead of an ambulance, five police cars showed up. You gotta love small towns, right?! The two of them thought they could get the bleeding to stop. And in their delusional state, they agreed Corky should just go back to his apartment and everything would be fine. They were so angry that I made that phone call. They were fuming mad at me, but I was caring less and less, because, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Lane 2 walking down the street coming toward the house.

Thank God my son is so smart and caring. He had the sense to run down to her, stopping her from seeing anything. He gave her the shortest version of the story, leaving out all of the details. And then he pulled out his wallet, handed her ten bucks as a bribe to just go back to the teen center. She took the money from her brother, waved and made an I love you signal in sign language to me. It was crushing to not run up and hug her, and tell her everything was going to be okay.

The poor kid was only coming back to the house to get a CD. Had we left, she would have been the one to find him.

Can you even imagine what must have been going on inside of her little mind as she saw all of those police cars pull up to the house? I can't. But I know it must have been a terrifying moment. I'm just thankful Lane 1 had the presence of mind to get to her before she got to us.

For decades, Corky has displayed this repeat behavior. Someone always saves him. Does that mean he really doesn't want to die? Does that mean we are all stupid for coming to his aid? Does that mean that we need to step back and let him sink or swim on his own? I think so.

When Mr. Lane and Lane 1 left behind the police car, heading to the hospital, I started cleaning the room. I had to make it right. I had to fix things. I was frantic to make it all go away. I stripped the bed and my heart was racing. I thought, what if he has AIDS? What if he has hepatitis? And then I felt like striking a match and setting the whole house up in smoke. I was losing my mind and had to shake it off.

I washed up and I went up to the teen center. I told the director what was going on, and then I grabbed my daughter. I held her so tight and she held me back. I thanked God for a minute as I breathed her in. Hoping she wouldn't want to come home, I left the choice up to her. She wanted to stay there. I kissed and hugged her one more time and headed back home, stopping at the store to buy every bottle of peroxide off of their shelf.

I scrubbed, wiped, cried, and just begged for it all to be a bad dream for two hours. I felt so alone.

I had to make a few phone calls. I had to find someone who could tell me it was going to be okay. I found out that my friend Mary is true blue. She was able to not only come over armed with every kind of bleach and cleaning supply you have ever seen, but she was there to joke, take me off the edge of crazy, and just be there...just so I wasn't alone. It felt good.

Corky is alive, in the hospital now, where he should have been long ago.

I packed all of his things, put them into the garage. I bagged up and threw out all of the bedding after wasting hours of trying to get the blood out. The same bedding we bought for our son for Christmas. I used six bottles of peroxide on the carpet, and a shop-vac. It still isn't right. It needs to be ripped out.

I know eventually the materialistic things can be replaced, and I know it probably means I'm an awful person just thinking about that stuff. But Mr. Lane and I have struggled and busted our asses for 18 years to have what little we do, and right now, there is no money for replacing anything. You can't decorate memories away, I understand that, but I sure as hell wish I could.

Maybe it makes me a bad person. Maybe I'm just fed up. I don't know. But when Corky called my house yesterday, like nothing happened, sounding almost chipper, and asked me to give him a ride back to his apartment, without ever acknowledging anything he did, I said, "As far as I'm concerned, you died in my son's bed. I'm over it. I'm over you. I'm not going to be fooled or enable you any longer. You are a grown man and you are just going to have to find your own way. We thought you really wanted to get clean and sober. You used us so you could be closer to your girlfriend, and we were stupid enough to fall for your lies. But I promise you, it won't happen again."

I wanted to throw in a thick Italian accent and scream, "You're fuckin' dead ta me!" I wanted to say, when he asked me to give him a ride, "Mother fucker, if you were on fire, I wouldn't waste my piss to put you out!"

Sure, it was abrasive no matter how it was said, or thought, but those words healed a tiny part of me, and this whole thing really broke the part of Lois that I love. She died in that bed too. Now I've got to find my cape, get it back on, and save her too.