The most significant personal risk I ever had to take was essentially “whistle blowing” (also called tattle tailing by adults) after weeks of watching a close family member suffer from a drug addiction. Day after day, I noticed symptoms and the increasing disconnection with a decent quality life that put my brother in a chokehold. He had no meaning or consistency in his life, he was dishonest with himself and others, he didn’t respect his own values or others’, and just overall had dug himself into a very deep crater. He could steal something and be completely blind to the fact that it could be valuable to someone else, or hurt someone with words without even knowing. It finally reached the point where I was in the best position to come out and say something to my parents, as he was able to conceal many of the symptoms and wasn’t around a whole lot. As I knew the most about the situation, I was put in a risky situation where if I came forward and presented the factual truth, I would potentially face consequences from my brother and our relationship may be damaged. As I deeply value the relationship I have with him, I started to notice how his belief that he was invulnerable to reality was causing more and more disconnect between he and I, the rest of his family and his other relationships. I saw firsthand that when someone thinks that they are invulnerable to the real struggles and obstacles in life, they are prone to shame themselves and use methods to alter those negative feelings and this leads to seemingly every weakness being brought out.
What I Learned
I learned throughout a brutal process of trying to remodel the horrid lifestyle of a loved one and beginning to replace it with a more real, productive, and fully satisfactory lifestyle, that the process all begins with “being vulnerable”, which is holding yourself accountable for your own actions, and being reasonable with yourself when something goes awry. When people struggle facing reality, I think that Brene Brown’s concept of making yourself vulnerable and facing your weaknesses/fears is obviously very effective in overcoming these struggles. If my brother was never forced to face those struggles head on, then the shame of knowing that he was digging himself deeper and deeper, along with the building fear of changing habit, would have engulfed him and he could have eventually been without a home or worse. After watching Brown talk about vulnerability, I realize that without knowing your fears and weaknesses and actively trying to acknowledge them and improve, you will be uncomfortable and unsuccessful in reaching your goals.
My brother is currently living in Carbondale, Colorado and is an outdoor adventure guide for a local rehabilitation center, as well as manager of the pro shop at the local mountain course, Iron Bridge. His lifestyle has drastically changed since I stepped in a few months into his downturn and made a decision to alert my parents about this problem instead of letting it continue t0 go under the radar. The biggest difference in my brother’s lifestyle before and after, is that he is now accepting of his downfall, and now has a much greater sense of respect for himself, his future, and his interests – fashion, sports, and the outdoors. This leads to more honesty and accountability in everyday decision making – and good decisions are ultimately rewarded with satisfaction and happiness. Overall, being more vulnerable will lead to stronger and more enjoyable relationships as life goes on, as loving and interacting with a full and honest heart is second to none!