Ella's story

I wish for my real brother back.

I lie in bed looking up at the ceiling. It’s hot and stuffy in my room but I have to stay in here now. I can’t walk out in the middle of this. I hear mum crying. Putting in headphones I try to block out the heart-breaking sounds, yet at the same time I feel an urge to keep listening. Even blocking out the sound, I still know what’s going on. So what’s the point?

I’m tired and uncomfortable. Is this going to go on any longer? I can’t handle it and I’m now feeling sick to my stomach. I just want this to stop.

I want to go out to get fresh air - it’s too stuffy in here! Maybe I’ll just walk out and they won’t even notice? Time is going so slowly and the colours of the room are starting to fade to dull, lonely colours - not like I don’t have enough of those feelings already. I don’t think I need my mind going even more insane! I feel imprisoned. Can I just get out of this place? I’m suffocating, I’m drowning. Okay I’m going to walk out. I don’t care anymore. I need air.
Lying on the bed, body numb, I’m staring at the door, willing myself to get up to leave, but I don’t. Why do I do that? I imagine myself walking out, not letting any of this phase me…but nope, it’s all just in my head. Of course I can’t bring myself to actually get up and move from this coma- like state my body seems to be in.

“Have you not seen the effects your actions are having on your family!?”, I hear mum cry, little energy left in her shaky voice. I can feel her pain, but I also feel for my brother. Of course we all just want him to stop, but the strength of the addiction has already taken over, and it’s not that simple to take it back. It’s too late, we can’t turn back the clocks.

I wish for my real big brother back. I remember when I was younger, running up to him when he came to visit every now and then. I loved him and it was hard not seeing him all the time. I remember hearing his voice approaching the front porch, outside my bedroom window; sometimes I didn’t even know he was coming! They were the best surprises of all. As he walked up the stairs I’d run to him leaping up into his warm embrace. I loved him because I could always feel how much he loved and cared for me. It was real. I knew he would do anything to protect me. The perfect, ideal big brother any little girl would want.

Being at a young age made it harder to understand the reality of it all, and why he wasn’t living with us like all my other brothers. It didn't make sense to me why my friends and people in the street would look at him funny, why they backed away or hesitated to talk to him. He’s just my humorous, musical big brother, what is so different about him?

I remember the heartache I felt as a kid, hearing the continuous cries from my mumma. Why was she crying? Did she hurt herself? I asked myself all the time. I just wanted to take the pain away, but it came out of nowhere and I didn’t know how to make it stop. All I could bring myself to do is wrap my arms around her, warming her soft hands, making my best attempt at pouring her a sweet cup of tea.

As I’ve grown older I’ve realised as a kid that I never really cried much. Obviously a lot had to be going on around me, but somehow it was like I was never really there. I’d watch it all from a distance, not always fully understanding, but just listening and watching. It’s as if I was so numb to it all. I felt heartache from the pain my mother was feeling, but I guess at the time it didn’t really affect me, somehow.

Gee how I wish it still felt like that, but at the same time, I think not knowing and understanding each and every event was doing my head in. Of course I asked myself questions, there had to be reasoning behind mum leaving dad, why she keeps crying, why my brother kept falling asleep at the dinner table. He couldn’t keep his eyes open.

Yes, of course now I’m filled in on every moment of my life from when I was kid, my questions have been answered, the events I remembered as a child, that I sometimes thought were dreams, I have now discovered were real, that it wasn't just in my head…..the realization that everything I witnessed was actually happening.

Okay that’s enough; I must get myself out of this numb, delusional, headspace. I snap back to reality, only to feel the painful, broken, collapsing emotions that filled the dark apartment.
I get onto to my two feet, no energy left in my body. Feeling heavy and sore I walk to the door, open it, and walk out into the living room. Mum’s outside now on the balcony, on the phone, still crying. She doesn’t notice I’ve come out, probably thought I was sound asleep. I stand in the kitchen looking out into the darkness, watching the shadows of the trees climb up the walls.

Then suddenly things got nasty...
“You’ve got my boy” I overhear mum on the phone.
Now 15 years of age, I know what this means. Caught for something, probably stealing anything from anyone he can to get the drug.
Here we go - another chapter in my life, “my brother in jail”. How long will this one last? Will he be bailed out? Who know? I never do, I just go with what happens. What’s the point? They bail him out, he doesn’t get any better, it just happens again, this endless cycle of pain and destruction.

Why does life do this to people? I know they say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but does it? I just don’t really know anymore, I’m sick and exhausted of getting my hopes up, when it all just crashes down again. I love him and I miss him. I just want my big brother back, I don’t even know who he is anymore.

Funny how a substance can take over the life of what once was an innocent human being.