Pulling Together This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   When I was eleven years old I found out that my big brother, the brother I had always looked up to, was an alcoholic. At first I didn't even understand what it meant. Everyone had always liked him because he was so much fun to be around, making people laugh with his teasing ways. Thinking that something was wrong with my funny, popular brother, confused and crushed me. Sometimes he would stay out most of the night; no one seemed to know where he was.

One night he got arrested. My parents had to pick him up at the police station at 1: 30 a.m. Then a few weeks later be was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon. I'm not sure what the details were because my parents were protecting me from all this. Had he been drinking? Now it seems that was always the question on everyone's mind, although no one ever came out and asked. Just like most families, mine tried to deny the fact that his problem indeed had to do with his alcoholism.

I remember his accidents. Once he got hit by a car. He said that he was hit by a car in front of Dairy Mart. Still, to this day, his girlfriend believes everything he says about it. He is a very convincing person, and always gets people to believe his stories no matter how stupid they seem. What really happened was that he got in a fight with some guy and the guy got in the car and hit him. Another time he got in a car accident with one of his good friends. They were really drunk that night and they were driving somewhere. I guess they hit a ditch and lost control of the car. Neither would say who was driving. Now we know that he, the one without a license, was driving, not his friend. One time he left for a week and no one knew where he was. When be came back, everyone was so glad that not much was said about his leaving.

I remember clearly all the alcohol programs he has been through during the last four years. Everyone always thought, "This time he will change." But he never did. Sure, he always did really well for a while, but before long he was back in trouble again. Oddly enough, I never knew exactly how to feel about him. I hated my mother and stepfather more and more every time they "sent him away." I didn't think that it was right for them to do that. Now I know that it was the only option and a good one. I know a lot about alcoholism now - that the person has to want to get the help, but I feel that without them, he might have been seriously injured by this time or maybe even dead for that matter. I never believed his problem was his fault for everything that was happening to him; I kept blaming other people for turning him into what he was.

After thinking through all of this family history, the memory that stands out most is an incident that happened about a year after we found out about his disease. He had been drinking and my stepfather went to get him at his mother's house because he was really drunk and she didn't want him there. When he came home he was in the bathroom most of the night throwing up. After he got home, he came into my room and said, "Don't ever do this to yourself. It's really not worth it and as you can see, it only hurts everyone. Please, for me?" I told him I loved him and he said he loved me too. To this day he won't admit that he said that. I know he remembers it, but he has always liked that "tough guy" attitude. That night I cried myself to sleep, not only for me but for him and the hope that one day he would not be an alcoholic, but a recovering alcoholic.

This last time he remained sober for nearly a year. Then in one month's time, everything went wrong for him. He started hanging out with his friends, getting into trouble and drinking. It's really too bad, and I really do care a lot about him. He recently told me that he hated me and was going to kill me. I don't think he meant it, but it sure did scare me and most of all it hurt. A lot. I know that he is a different person when he is drinking. Even though he is my stepbrother, I still love him as I would my real brother. I hope that someday he will succeed, which alone is all I can really wish for him. Tbat, and that he take it one day at a time, like be always tells me. "Never is a long time not to do something Just say I won't today," he once said to me. All I have to say to him is, "Jeff, I love you." I hope one day be hears me.






This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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