I first heard of the concept “Tough Love” when my brother was a teenager. He had become someone else. He stole from my piggy bank, my grandfather’s coin collection, and my mom’s wallet to buy drugs and alcohol. He would come home when he wanted to. When he came home late at night he was usually bloody from a fight and usually it wasn’t his blood. The police were at our house often. He would physically fight with my father who by that time he was bigger than. I witnessed too much at a young age that stayed with me and still does.
My parents had heard from other people about a group that met to talk about their problem children and what to do about them. Their solution was to kick them out of the house and cut off communication with them. The idea was to not enable their behavior.
I can tell you from experience that this made my brother worse. He became bitter and his view of the world and the people in it changed from then on.
The majority of people with addictions have an underlying Mental Health issue. That is a proven fact. I honestly believe that my brother did and still does based on his behavior and what he endured when he was young.
I have always been against Tough Love and have never believed kicking your child out of the house solves anything. If my parents had taken the same approach with me I would’ve been dead by 25. I’m glad that they realized something more was going on than my alcoholism. None of us knew what or how to deal with it at the time though.
My brother’s oldest daughter began to self-harm and have bursts of rage at a very early age. My brother refused to allow her to see a psychiatrist. I think he didn’t want to be blamed for what was going on. She witnessed her parents constantly fighting, smoking pot and drinking. They would both push and shove each other or his wife would throw things at him and he would punch a wall. It wasn’t a great environment but they hid it well.
She started doing drugs her first year of High School. She graduated quickly from pot to cocaine to heroin and also drank. She could be violent when she thought someone was rude to her or didn’t like her. It would happen fast and be over in an instant. She was like this as a 4 year old. We would be eating dinner and next thing you knew she would throw a fork at your face and smile while doing it.
She was also a good liar and con. I was the only one that ever caught her and she didn’t like it. She had stolen half of my mom’s pain medication one night. I noticed she had stayed up until almost morning and I heard sniffling. When I got up in the morning I went right to her backpack, found her compact for make-up, lifted the bottom and saw about 50 pills in there. I went up to the extra room she was sleeping in and told her to get her ass out of bed because she was going home. She pretended she had no idea what I was talking about. You don’t steal a dying woman’s pain medication and everything she was doing I had already been there and done that so she wasn’t fooling me.
Eventually she was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and was in and out of treatment centers.
She has a younger sister who witnessed her behavior and her parents. She started to self-harm and my brother’s wife was smart enough to get her help but she went overboard smothering the poor kid with a million appointments and doctors. She was divorced from my brother by this time. I asked if I could talk to her or have her spend some time with me and was told no. Year after year she became worse.
Today I talked to my Aunt who told me my brother’s ex kicked my niece out of the house and she’s been living on the streets using heroin.
I felt like someone had punched me in the gut. The girl I had always known was sweet, loved children and animals and always smiled. She could’ve been helped more if the right people had been there. Cutting her off and putting her out on the street solves nothing. She hurts herself because the pain on the inside is too much. She uses heroin to make the pain go away. I know this because the few times I was allowed to talk to her she said so. I know this pain well I live with this pain and I have lived with it most of my life.
I usually don’t feel rage unless it’s about a loved one. I’m pissed my ex sister in law did this. I have no way of finding my niece. She isn’t like her older sister, she doesn’t con or become violent or constantly lie, she’s just in pain.
Now I’m in more pain imagining what she’s going through and the people she’s surrounded herself with. It reminds me of my past and what I would do to change so much of it.