Out of the Darkness

The greatest challenge I face in keeping a blog is deciding what to share and what to keep to myself.

I am the first to admit that I usually play it safe around here.  Not that what I write is not me, because it is.  It just may not be all of me.  Which I tend to prefer.  I believe that there is an appropriate place for certain information to be shared.  And in regards to personal information about me, my family and my relationships, a public blog doesn't always make the cut.

With that said, I also feel as though an open forum such as this can be a place of refuge.  While I love design, events, and photos as much as the next girl, I am also drawn to blogs that touch my heart and share the raw emotions that happen when you live real life.  I respect individuals who lay it all out there and often times find it refreshing to read about something other than favorite beauty products and families that ooze perfection. 

So this evening, I wanted to share a little more with you about someone who is near and dear to my heart and one who I am so proud of.  My big brother.

With his permission, I wanted to speak a bit about his journey the past several years and his ultimate decision to live a life of sobriety.

I don't feel as though it's my place to tell about his past and what led him to alcohol abuse to begin with, mostly because only he can speak to his own heart.  Rather, I want to share a small glimpse of what it was like to be a family member of an addict and more importantly - one who is no longer so.

In my mind, late 2007 - mid 2008 was the height of my brother's alcoholism.  In fact, scratch that.  It was the time in which it became heightened to ME.  He lives in Maui and so as you can imagine, the distance made it nearly impossible to get a grasp on just how bad the situation had become (and most likely had been for some time).  During this time, it was becoming apparent that there was a severe issue.  Phone calls of desperation, anger, sadness, shame, guilt and everything in between were increasing to myself, my sister, mom and dad all but crying out for help (yet still being so far from being ready to take the next steps).  When the sound of the dial tone would be heard at the other end in the middle of an intoxicated conversation, panic would ensue.  Several calls back with no answer only left more room for possible tragedy and racing thoughts until the next time contact was made with him.  And then it would start all over.  Furthermore, calls from concerned (and frightened) roommates, coworkers and friends only made things worse.  I remember being sick with worry every single minute that he would not make it through another day.

I was also terrified for my parents.  I was literally watching them break.  And rightfully so.  They were physically and emotionally exhausted from the demands of research, prayers, support groups, and emotional turmoil that they put forth in tyring to help him over the course of the months and years.  They were desperate to help their boy.  I distinctly remember one evening where they had to turn off their phones to get a night's rest from it all.  As I can now imagine, a last resort for a parent.

It goes without saying that they were taking turns flying back and forth to Hawaii to be with my brother and help him make some decisions.  The thing is, at 30-something years old, decision are very hard to make for your son.  Ultimately it was only he who could decide to change his life and they were there to support him.  To love him only like parents can.

Although there are more details and events and several more emotions, they are really here nor there at this point because on August 1, 2008 Byron made the choice to enter a 30-day rehabilitation program in California. 

He completed the entire program and has been living a life of sobriety since the day he entered.

I know that the choice to pass up a drink is presented to him daily and he consciously manages his decisions (and personal success) each and every minute.  Watching him live this new life has inspired me.  Sometimes it's hard to imagine the place where such strength comes from.  The word 'addiction' will forever get to my core and I thank God that my brother has another chance.  I hope that his life continues to treat him well and that his incredible fortitude stays true to him.

And to others who are facing similar struggles, my wish is that you and your loved ones may one day know the other side.  It's there.

From my brother:  "August 1st: 3 years out of the Darkness" and as my sister so poignantly replied, "Turn your face to the sun and let the shadows fall behind you."

Love you Byron.


Beth said...

Beautiful, Tiff. I am so happy for him and for your whole family.

leslie said...

So well done, very touching. I wish the best for you all!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing that, Tiff. I too have a brother who has defeated addicition and it is encouraging to see another hopeful story of life after sobriety. My brother may be younger and have a different addiction to battle, but the struggle to be a supportive and prayerful sister is something we have in common (yet again). Thanks again for sharing :)

Lindsay said...

Beautiful, Tiff.