April 7th 2007. Eyes Open. What time is it? What day is it? Lying in bed. Last I remember is walking into a night-club Friday night. It’s now Sunday afternoon.
Amanda is looking down at me, confused, worried, angry. She had moved in with me two weeks before. She knows nothing about my drug and alcohol issues. My two lives had previously coming crashing together in 2005 with my near suicide, and first trip to Green Oaks Psychiatric. I was not ready for recovery then. I went right back out and tried to re-create the buffer zone between the addict Brian and the “respectable Brian”
What I did not realize was that “respectable Brian” was long gone. Everyone who knew me long term, knew I was an addict. She did not know me long enough. She did not know the guy partying and doing blow every night, basically being a douche-bag around Dallas. Being THAT guy. The 30k millionaire pretending he was a big time lawyer. Pretending he was an integral part of the Mark Cuban empire. That is the Brian I showed her.
She was hesitant about moving in. She would later tell me that she knew something was not right. Getting in auto accidents as I drove her around while I was high on black market Xanax was certainly a concern and raised red flags. Showing up to a family function slurring my words. She didn’t know it was Xanax just that I seemed “zonked”. I told her it was my anti-depressants creating that affect. She had no experience with those so she did not question it. I was manipulative and persuasive. I told my brothers the same thing. They both rolled their eyes. They knew the truth. They could no longer be manipulated.
I thought that having Amanda move in with me would stop or at least curb my drug use because I would not do when she was around. That seemed perfectly logical to me. Like entering the United States Marine Corps. Like literally running away from my problems ten and twenty miles at a time. I thought Amanda could fix me. She would relieve me of the stress of having to fix myself. I told myself that every day while at the same time spending exhaustive amounts of energy trying to figure out how to live the life I felt comfortable with without her knowing. The “Insanity of Addiction”.
This Sunday afternoon as she looks down on me, there is cocaine on the dresser table. Alcohol bottles strewn throughout the bedroom. A prophylactic on the floor. Where had those two days gone? Who had I been in my bedroom with? I though Amanda was in Houston! She was. She had come home at the time she said she would be home. I am confused, afraid and my first thought was how I could manipulate myself out of the situation. I am a lawyer. I can come up with something that she will believe. Amanda is also a lawyer.
“There was no one here I was using the rubber as a water balloon”
Yes, I really said that. Yes, I really believed she would buy it. As Elmer Fudd would say:
“That… That’s.. Addiction Folks….
“I think I need to go to Green Oaks. I’ve been there before.
“What is Green Oaks?”
“A psychiatric Facility”
“You’ve been to a psychiatric facility?”
“Yes. I will explain later. Let’s just go.”
Into the car. I am silent. She is crying and angry. The familiar drive. The familiar route of “rock bottom” . Another rock bottom. The familiar parking lot. The familiar walk through the double doors to intake. This time my brothers are not there. They do not know yet. I can not look at Amanda. I look down at the floor in shame and fear as I give my name to the intake nurse. She is kind. Her voice is soft. It calms me a little. She has seen many Brian’s at that window. She is on the phone. I need air.
I walk back into the parking lot. Fixating on the black concrete. Thinking. Still in denial. Insisting there was no other women in my bedroom. I knew there had been. I could not remember her face, name or how she got there but the rubber didn’t lie. There were no water balloons.
In that parking lot waiting for intake, a thought that had never occurred to me before. The only way to save myself was to begin the process of honesty. I don’t know how I knew. I had not yet heard the term “rigorous honestly” as I would in 12-step. Maybe I was just finally laid bare. Broken down. The one time “emperor of Dallas” was finally naked. No where to go but the truth. I was beaten. I would need a power higher than myself. I did not know what that power was but it was over. I did not want to die. I knew there would not be a third trip back to Green Oaks. (Ironically there would be but under different circumstances).
Another thought. I don’t want to lose my family! At that moment I accepted that Amanda would leave me. I would have. There was no reason for her to stay. I had betrayed her trust on every level. I thought of my father. I thought of my two brothers. In the few moments of what seemed like an eternity, I thought of a little boy and his brothers in his father’s arms. Crawling over him on the floor as we tried to pin him down pretending we were wrestlers. Him laughing. The love. The bond. ‘the bond he had instilled in the three of us. He would regularly say to us,
“Mark Brian, Jeff, wives may come and go, girlfriends may come and go, friends may come and go, when push comes to shove as you go through live the one thing that needs to stay constant is your love for each other. Wherever your lives take you, wherever you live, always pick up that phone and call each other. Ask how things are going. Tell each other you love them. Never lose that bond of brothers
I knew in that parking lot that I was on the verge of losing the gift my father instilled in each of us decades before. Families distance. My family was distancing. They had wives. They had children. That did not mean I had lost their love but they had realized they could not fix me. I had to.
In that parking lot, I realized that even ore than the thoughts of the decline of my own life, the thoughts of disappointing my father who knew none of this and losing my family was more than I could bear. I was afraid. Fear was my motivator. It was time for a step. I did not know what that step would be in that parking lot but I had to find that power greater than myself. In the midst of that fear, shame, and humiliation with Amanda at my side, I for the first time felt something that had eluded me for decades. I felt hope.
That bond of brothers instilled by father has carried through to this day. As I write this book, one Thousand Two-Hundred miles away from our childhood home in Pittsburgh, Pa. Decades later. Mark, Jeff, my father and I all live within walking distance from each other. The bond of brothers. The bond of family.