when is enough enough?

Francis king

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hello all...

...my brother is 29, white, and working class... he's currently living on the streets, officially homeless... he's homeless because he refused to pay rent in his last accomodation, and the landlord had to take him to court to evict him.

For the past two years he's been homeless more times than homed. He can't get into a hostel, as he works, and when he has been in hostels he gets thrown out for fighting. A few months ago he managed to get into a hostel run by catholic nuns, but they have a curfew, and because he's dependent on drink he would rather sleep rough than be forced to return to the hostel without a drink inside him.

Two weeks ago he was beaten up badly in town. His whole face was black. His nose is now broken in about three places, and he can't breathe properly, but he won't get it fixed. He was in court last month, and received a large fine of 7 grand and community service. He should have started paying the fine off weekly by now, but hasn't bothered, and last week he failed to attend his community service.

However, he's not physically dependent on drink, and can go a few days without it, and he also works 40 hours a week, so he's not your usual alkie type, begging and drinking cheap cider on the street corner.. the problems arise every friday- he goes out and spends 99% of his money on drink, and doesn't stop until the money runs out... when he's drunk, he's a pain in the ass- he gets argumentative, and occasionally violent. In the past he's beaten me up several times, he's also put my windows in when I wouldn't let him in the house drunk, and he's also broken the windows of one of my friends, and also one of my neighbours.

The reason he was in court last month? He'd been sacked from a job, and went out, got drunk, and decided to go back to the workplace, he broke in and turned all the water pipes on, flooding the place, and he put great big holes in the walls with a fire extinguisher. They caught him on CCTV.

It's got to the stage where his family and close friends will no longer help him out by putting him up, and people are starting to avoid his calls. I have a meditation hut in the garden, and last time he was homeless I put him in there, as my man won't have him in the house drunk, yet I woke up one night to smell burning, and there he was, asleep in my shed, yet on fire. He burnt himself quite badly at the time, too.


our relationship has always been an unequal one- he's just 18 months younger than me, and I have always tried to look out for him- our dad died about 10 years ago, and ever since I've made the effort. I've fed him, bought him clothes, given him money, and generally supported him since then, but it's got to the stage now when I dread friday nights, because then the phone calls start- drunk, he phones me to argue, and call me names while letting me know how bad he feels that I am not as supportive as I have been in the past. Sometimes he threatens to kill himself.

But for me, it's a hard one. The christian in me says- keep going. Keep being supportive. Keep trying. The buddhist in me says- noone can fix him but himself. Let him get on with it. My man, my friends, everyone I speak to about it says- let him go, distance yourself from him, but... well.. I know he doesn't have anybody else. Literally. And so I've tried to be there, thinking that as long as I'm around he has some kind of anchor, some family ties, somebody who cares.

But things have changed over the past few months for me. I've changed. I have a lot of work on at the moment, and I'm mad busy. I am starting to resent him calling at my house. I hate the way me and my man spend hours talking about him. I'm sick of listening to him tell me how he's going to make the changes he needs to and then come friday he's back on the sauce. I'm sick of smelling his BO, sick of running about making phonecalls and trying to sort things out for him, especially when everytime I do he doesn't bother to attend the places which can help him. I'm sick of his lies, and sick of him trying to play me to get what he wants. I feel I have tried to do all I can for him yet... I am finding it hard to cut the ties.

Part of me says.. sheesh... I've been homeless, friendless, family-less. I've sat on top of the cliffs at Beachy Head ready to throw myself over, because I hated my life so much that death seemed like the only way out, but at the same time, I wasn't a violent drinker either. I was mentally ill. But because of my own experience, I feel bad I'm not supporting him, as I know how it feels to be sleeping rough and have no-one to turn to. I know how bad it feels to feel alone, powerless, put upon, to hate yourself, to know things need to change but be powerless to make those changes.. yet...

perhaps part of me is co-dependent? perhaps I am supportive because I derive some benefit from it? Holy roller helps homeless alcoholic? Kudos for me..?

But as well as this.. is he just an alcoholic? Yes, we all know about different types of alcoholics, and I would then put him in the binge drinking group, but maybe it's not the drink which is the problem?

You see, I have had clients like this in the past- drunk, violent, aggressive, but needy and vulnerable all at the same time, and they're usually diagnosed with some kind of personality disorder. I hate the personality disorder label- for me, behaviour is learnt, and I know where he's learnt these behaviours and ways of dealing with people, and they all come from my dad, who was also a binge drinker with a bad temper. My mum has said to me- my brother is a carbon copy of his father, and she doesn't want to know him because of that, but I know that there's more to it than that.

Or do I? Am I desperate to find a reason, a cause, to better understand him, or am I looking for a reason so I can pretend that he isn't just an asshole, like his dad? Am I looking for an excuse? I don't know...

my question then is... when is enough enough?
Namaste Francis,

You and yours are in my prayers.

my question then is... when is enough enough?

It is one we will always ask. I'm thinking that al-anon or something similar is everywhere. Despite me being in the middle of my own issues of denial, I know it helped me when I was dealing with an alcoholic family member...this comes from someone who followed suite and became the alcoholic family member.

There is some tough love involved, no longer deciding to be an enabler and that varies how that actually looks.

I'm already obnoxious, opinionated, and argumentative, I've always been told I get louder and worse when drinking...however I've always denied that.

For my vantage point, folks never gave up on me, and I absolutely appreciate that (I didn't at the time, but do now). But their were boundaries laid as to what they would do to assist me and what I had to do to deserve that assistance....ground rules.

He'll always need your love, in my current paradigm that is what all people are crying out for...love. It is misplaced, displaced and replaced, by anger, alcohol, sex, violence, terrorism...whatever...but what they need is love and understanding and they don't know how to ask or how to receive....

Big hug Francis, please seek some local help, some meetings for yourself.

peace and blessings...
What kind of professional help has been looked into?

I know what you mean that the Christian in you says to keep going, but there is a point to where you have to realize that he is the one making these bad choices. There's a reason he is homeless. And I don't think it's just bad luck. And you are right, behavior is learnt. Like wil says, sometimes you have to exert tough love. He can't think he can get away with it and hope you'll forgive him all the time. That just encourages him to continue. It's a vicious cycle that needs to stop.

Was there ever a time when he was doing decently? Or has he always had problems like this? Was there an event in his life that turned him?

The hope is that he would go back to being normal. That is not easy when he's gotten so used to being in the fray. That's why he definitely needs professional help. Get him dried out, get him some perpective of what he's doing to his life and his family, friends, and work. You get like that and you are afraid to change, but unless that change comes, it's all a downward spiral.

FWIW, I'll pray for your brother, but he needs serious help, or he's going to get into serious trouble and dire straits.
Hello Francis...Having been where you are and have been before in some ways, I can only echo what others have suggested, with one exception. It is part of your loving responsibility to him to set him totally free and allow him to hit the bottom. If he has it in him, it is only then that he will begin to start relying upon himself and begin to rise again.

Before doing that however, and since drink is the root problem here that keeps putting him in a bad place, outside intervention by an alchohol abusers support group should perhaps be approached as wil suggested. And remember that tendencies towards drink problems are an inherited personality trait in some families.

Your relations with your man , I think, should take precedence here. Love of self has to come before reaching out to love others has the ability to work. You've got to try and be a little more selfish here I believe.

Based upon my life experiences, that's the best advice I can offer...and oh...pray on it all a lot more.

Hi Francis--

For what this may be worth to you, I had to intervene in one of my children's lives a few years back. I won't go into detail, but it involved heavy drugs and all that goes along with that. Very life-threatening, not only for my daughter and the dear man who is now my son-in-law, but for their children, too. It was the hardest thing I ever did to seemingly turn my back on these two. And I've done some pretty difficult things in this life.

And it felt almost like a gamble. I did not know if a decision to step in (and step out, in a way) would lead to a worse situation. But then, after much soul-searching, I realized that the situation they were in was only worsening by the minute, and they were apparently at the point where they could not help themselves. I worried whether they would survive my intervention, and if they did, I wondered what would happen to their little family, including my grandchidren.

Today they both tell me that what I did was the best thing I could have ever done. I am so happy for them--they are doing so well, and the three babies who wound up scattered all over the country for a while, are back in a healthy, happy home together.

I can't really give you advice, because I know the situation I am telling you about is not exactly the same as yours. On the other hand, maybe what I've said can help in some way. As others here have indicated, you need to care for yourself during all of this, because how can you help your brother if you get down? I do know that the hardest part is worrying whether he will end his life as a result of your actions. It sounds to me as if he is in danger of losing his life already at this point. And it sounds to me as if he puts you in danger as well. But only you can decide what you need to do or not do. Investigate your options, Francis, and pray and medititate. I feel certain that you earnestly seek the best for your brother, and all you can do is all you can do.

I lift you and yours up to the light of Love and I wish you well. If you decide to intervene in some way, some very difficult times may follow. If this happens, and you ever need to talk, you can call on me. If not me, or if for some reason I'm not here, please do find someone to communicate with regarding it all.