Thursday, February 26, 2004

Toby's choice

Some of you may remember my brother, Toby (The Other Brother), from postings in the fall. Toby stayed with me for a short time after a bout of extreme drinking that led to a hospital stay to detox and get over the DTs. He moved out of my house to avoid going into a residential treatment program, for the agreement for him staying here was that he would go as soon as an opening came up.

Toby was back in the hospital last week, suffering from health complications from damage to his liver. He hadn't been drinking as much this time as before, but his landlady had kicked him out due to his drinking. Toby was now talking about residential treatment again.

He hinted about coming to stay with me again. I prayed about this and talked to a friend who has experience as a mental health counselor dealing in substance abuse. I talked to my priest. I prayed some more and told Toby it would be better to find somewhere else to stay.

I kept worrying about it though. It's hard to know the right thing to do. He is my brother and I don't want to abandon him. On the other hand, I don't want to get into a repetitive cycle of manipulative behavior that's bad for everyone involved -- I didn't want to start a pattern, and I was seeing one forming.

Tuesday night, I was weakening when Toby called to say he was at the house of someone he'd met when he was going to AA, who would let him stay there until he found a place.

I called yesterday to see how things were going (I had the phone number from caller ID -- Toby hadn't given it to me). Toby wasn't there, but the AA buddy was, and we talked.

This man sounded very tough (no wonder he was not at the top of Toby's call list). He is a recovered alcoholic. He said he had been through and done pretty much everything Toby has been doing. He almost lost his wife and family. He said the best thing his own mother did for him was quit trying to help him quit drinking and just pray for him -- this way, he wasn't able to try to make his behavior his mother's fault.

He said he told Toby that Toby had to choose what he wants. He can't try to make me or anyone else responsible. Toby has to decide whether he wants to go to AA or treatment, find friends or be alone. It is his decision alone. He gave Toby a schedule of all the AA meetings in the area and suggested that Toby find a place where he can easily get back and forth to work and to AA meetings -- but it's Toby's choice.

He had Toby call me when he came in. I don't think Toby was thrilled that his friend and I had talked, but that's OK. I told him I love him, but I am staying out of his decisions entirely -- again, it's his decision and his only whether he gets sober or continues to drink and die. (His health is already seriously compromised.) We agreed to stay in contact and get together for dinner and visits. I hope he will stay in contact.

I have been thanking God since I had the conversation with Toby's AA buddy. I prayed for the Holy Spirit to take charge, and I think He has. This is another chance for Toby to have life. This man knows all the cons, deceits and tricks of someone in the throes of this addiction and will stand firm and tell Toby objectively what his options are.

Sadly, last night Toby wasn't talking any more about seeking a treatment program. I think my impression was correct -- he was using it as a hook. He friend invited him to go to AA to hear a witness he would be giving today. I'm just praying for Toby. That he will take advantage of this and whatever chances for healing God brings his way.

I'm going to just keep praying and thanking God.

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