Living with Someone Else’s Disability

Today is just one of those days when everything pisses me off. I am quite sure I know why everything under the sun is annoying me, but I won’t discuss that here.

What I will discuss is the fact that I live with someone who has a disability. My younger brother is mentally handicapped. There is no name for it, as far as I know, other than a generic “learning disability” which means that although he is physically 36 years old, mentally he’s 10-12. He is able to hold a job, for which I am glad, but over the years he’s lost various positions due to people not understanding that his brain doesn’t work like everyone else’s. The worst one, by far, was the first job he ever held at what was once a local chain of stores similar to CVS and Walgreens called K&B. It was a New Orleans icon for many many years until it was bought out by Rite Aid. Unlike most buy-outs, people who worked for K&B kept their jobs, including my brother. When he worked for K&B, he was a stocker and also did some basic janitorial tasks for them. When Rite Aid took over, the manager of his store didn’t bother looking through the employee files or he/she might’ve known of my brother’s disability. Alas, that was too sensible so they decided to put him behind a cash register and, if that wasn’t bad enough, they got him certified to sell alcohol to people as well. It seemed to go well enough for a time, but then one day he got conned out of some money – an asswipe told my brother he had paid with a $100 bill rather than the $10 my brother was giving him change for – so the fuckers at Rite Aid fired him. Never mind that it was their fault for puting him on the register in the first place. I rarely shop at Rite Aid now, going only when it is absolutely without a doubt necessary.

For the most part, my brother’s disability has never really bothered me. He likes to talk a lot, which occasionally annoys me, but he gets that from my mother. When I was younger, my mother loved nothing more than making me feel horribly guilty about how I would take care of my brother when my parents die. Her favourite mantra was, “What would you do if your father and I die tomorrow?” She was convinced that I’d do nothing because I’m not smart enough to do so. I moved clear across country to get away from that shit, but that’s a different story.

I moved back and while things are different, I have noticed a lot of things that may or may not have been present before I moved away. I have noticed that my mother uses my brother’s disability as an excuse. He has ballooned up to an extremely unhealthy weight and she does nothing to restrict his diet, allowing him to make the choices for himself. Most of his paycheque is put into a bank account, but she withdraws a bit each week and gives it to him to spend on food. His current job is at an AMC theatre near our house and it’s in a mall. I know he eats at the food court everyday he works. He’s been overweight for many years and the best years of his life were when he was in the Boyscouts and he went on the week-long summer adventure camping trips where he actually exercised and ate small portions.

These days he doesn’t do anything he doesn’t want to do. As of today it’s been two weeks since our backyard has been mowed. It’s been rainy everyday and the grass has grown to a considerable height. Today was the first sunny day, so I pointed out that because he didn’t have to be to work until 3 PM, he could mow the grass. Nope. Apparently he could not mow the grass because he had to go into work. Never mind that it wasn’t until 3 in the afternoon. My mother refused to insist that he do it, so it doesn’t get done. She told me this morning that she would see that it gets done tomorrow because she’s off work tomorrow for a repairman’s visit and it would get done even if she had to do it herself. But that is the problem. If he doesn’t want to do it, then she does it for him.

I see now that both of my parents are on opposite sides of this whole situation. My father wants my brother to actually do stuff, but if my brother does it, it’s always half-assed. He points out how overweight my brother is all the time, but it does no good.

I don’t know what to do and right now, I don’t want to do anything but leave.


One thought on “Living with Someone Else’s Disability

  1. I know my son would be completely sympathetic with you because he believes (and I tend to agree) that my daughter does know how to use her disability to get out of doing things. And for a while, I was letting her, just for the peace and quiet. However, I have learned that it is unfair to my son to expect him to follow rules that she is also capable of following. Sometimes, out of guilt, we as parents have let things like that out of our grasp. I know it is probably too late for things to change much..but definitely encourage Brett to do things for himself. I am sorry to say it may cause some upset with Mom if you do that..but I think your dad will back you up.

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