My brother was a drug dealer. High school I’m guessing just weed–later, he dealt all the drugs. I’m not saying anything about the weapons. But they can go together. He played poker as a cover, like a decoy. So we heard about the ups and downs of his poker career.
I heard a cliche–a mom would hide her son who was on the lam from the law. The mom is at her front door, saying, “No, officer. I haven’t seen him,” so innocently. And it wouldn’t matter what the son did–murder, robbery, whatever. I have a cartoon image of all that, in my head. The son crying in the basement, filled with regret, panicking, not knowing where to run.
The cliche was–a mom could not see the failures of her son, or could see them but would protect him anyway. My mom lived that cliche. How much did she know, about my brother’s true income? My parents were both looking the other way. My brother would do whatever he would do–they couldn’t control him. But there was something complicit, in their avoidance of the whole thing.
My parents had their grandkids to consider–my mom loved those kids more than anything. So when my brother got busted, that was a big deal. He was busted at two locations simultaneously. He had his regular place he lived with his wife and children, and then he had an apartment also.
So he was busted–flash bombs, chaos, fear. The stupid hubris evaporated. He was arrested.
My main response then and now was, “What a dipshit. How long did he think he could get away with that?” Something about–if you play with fire, don’t be surprised when you get burned. The risk is part of the bargain. He gambled with this freedom, but the well-being of his family too.
I remember my dad’s story of visiting my brother in jail. My brother had been arrested wearing only shorts and a thin teeshirt. He was really cold, in his cell. My dad asked the guard if he could give my brother his sweatshirt, and the guard said no.
My dad was mad about that–what an asshole guard. But I looked at my dad, mystified. I was like–all this is because of you. You abused your family with violence, so we got traumatized and crazy. If you had been a decent person, faced your demons, and healed–rather than passing on violence to us–my brother might have been a healthy person. None of this would have happened.
I said none of that; telling the truth to my dad was a no-no. I could think whatever I wanted, but there was an illusion of respect I was supposed to maintain. My dad could think the guard was bad, but I knew who was really bad.
My parents had some thousands they were going to redo part of their house with, reverse mortgage money. But that’s right when my brother got busted, so that money went to pay his lawyer.
My brother said he would pay my parents back, but that never happened. He was owed tons of money from the people he supplied drugs to. It took him a while to realize all the IOUs evaporated. His friends were no longer friends.
I still resent all those thousands of dollars my parents spent on my brother’s lawyer. It was their money and their business, but was I playing poker and dealing drugs? I didn’t want to. But why did I always have to be good?
I think about my own disabilities and my brother’s. For years, I believed he had issues similar to mine, with moods and anxiety that disabled us, so we can’t do paid work consistently. I thought my brother is an addict because of that trauma and genes, and he has “mental illness” like me.
That was something I felt extra compassion for, because it was shared. I think of my brother as my womb-mate. We were both formed in the same sacred mama. Long ago, I tried really hard to be there for him, check in with him, and love him as best I could.
I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. I thought if my brother could work full time, he would. Like me–if I had been capable of worker bee-ing, I would still be a wage earner. I believed the poker and drug dealing were my brother’s way of making money and functioning with a fucked up mind, in an uncaring society.
Now, after so much more has happened, I learned my brother lacks empathy and lacks actual care for other people. He uses people in a cruel way to get whatever he wants, especially using vulnerable women. He’s a common, selfish jerk, and would sidestep legit work anyway! Who likes bosses and playing by the rules? He’s an asshole who thinks everything good belongs to him.
I feel weird about drug dealers. It doesn’t have to be exploitative and yuck, but it is. Guns gross me out. The violence of hierarchy does too. An addict preying on addicts, supplying someone till they die? Pulling people in. Threats and posturing, fear, deceit. I can’t say I really understand it, from far away. But it’s not a healing, helpful, loving project. It’s usually a path of death.
It was for my dad, who died of an overdose. And it was for many of my relatives. But not me.
Well, this story is sad. But thank you for hearing me. I’m not going to play poker.