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Op-ed: The Possum, or, my brother the addict

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Posted at 6:30 AM, Nov 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-15 14:04:24-05

It's not just the addict who is damaged by heroin. Families, spouses, partners, friends can all get caught in the chaos that addiction creates. When he was 16, Jaxon Emery of Anderson Township scrawled an essay on a small notepad about his older brother who was struggling with heroin addiction. Jaxon compared him to a possum with an uncontrollable appetite.

What do you do with a possum who is a thief?

The possum is a criminal, a beggar, a threat. This possum does not live in your house, but it comes around every once in a while. When this possum comes around, it steals your valuable possessions. When this possum steals, you chase it out of your house.

This possum has nothing left but half of its memory.

When you get the possum to leave, it lingers around your house. When it gives up, it eventually leaves your residence. You feel your ordeal is over, but you know that it has only begun.

Jaxon Emery

It is back at your house. You discover that it has sunk its rigid, yellow, sharp teeth and nails into your family. You figure that it will not let go until it has what it wants, and you know that this possum has never-ending wants -- and "needs."

The possum steals again, but this time the crime was not a physical theft. It stole your pride, part of your humanity and your love.

You plan to end your involvement, considering your multiple losses. But you realize, to end it, you need to end the possum.

You feel you need to exterminate this rodent, and you pursue this thought. Then you realize this is no ordinary rodent. It has escaped from the zoo, and it is valued at a high price. You cannot kill this rodent because of this.

What is left to do?

You call the animal control. They take it away. The rodent is gone, for now. You feel your struggle is over, but a new chapter begins.

The rodent is released from captivity. Knowingly, it returns to the house -- now with anger, loss of judgment and intent to injure.

This time, you are ready for the rodent. When it arrives, you fight. You gain nothing from this fight except additional injuries to your skin and mind.

The rodent leaves. Then comes back. Another fight comes. It falls unconscious.

You take a good hard look at its face. It is familiar. Your mind is racing.

Jaxon’s original essay

You have now realized that this rodent, the one who has stolen your pride and soul, is the possum that you raised in your backyard. You gave it a home, food and a life. Now it is hurting you.When the rodent wakes up, it darts back into your house, taking all it can before it runs away. It has hurt you once again.

So what do you do with a possum that is a thief?

Who the f**k knows.