Urghhh. This stuff runs in families.
Now that I’m on the wagon it’s hard not to get holier than thou… but my brother really needs to sort his shit out.
I’d consider myself as always having been a functional, binge drinker. By the end I was drinking (large amounts) nearly every night of the week but I was sober during the day… although I was hung-over and running at reduced capacity.
My brother’s drug and alcohol usage impacts more strongly on his relationships, work and legal issues. I just found out today that he’s been charged for driving under the influence and has a court date soon. And sadly – that’s only a small part of the story and it could have been much worse. I’m cranky at him – he has a family custody hearings soon. Could he pick a worse time to look dysfunctional? And it’s not the first time he’s had police or legal problems.
At first glance we seem very different: I’m gay, live in a big city, went to university, drive a fuel-efficient small car and have cats. He’s straight, lives in the country, never finished school, drives a truck and has kids from a couple of former relationships. I was always the more academic, ‘goody goody’ older brother who never got into trouble – and he was the run away, problem kid who struggled at school and got into trouble with the cops.
As I’ve got to know him better in our 30s I’ve discovered some similarities like shyness and anxiety. It gets expressed very differently but the feelings and situations are the same. My anxiety makes me work even harder and feeds a perfectionism streak (if only I anticipate everything better and work harder – then I can control it). I think his anxiety makes him avoid situations or act out. And I think that for both of us getting pissed was an escape from anxiety and a way to switch off an overactive brain.
We had a few conversations a few months ago where he revealed situations which make him get anxious to the point of a panic attack. I didn’t expect it from such a rugged guy but it was similar stuff that I experienced when I was younger – speaking in public etc. I couldn’t avoid situations like that because of my work – so over time it’s become less of an issue and now I don’t give it a second thought. My brother has been able to avoid it and has actually passed up promotional opportunities so he didn’t have to do it.
I’m considering having a big talk with him. He might be the first ‘real life’ person that I tell why I’ve quit drinking. I love him – but it’s hard not to transfer my own crap on to him (or to tell him to stop being a dickhead).