Starting Over: AA on Christmas Day

December 25, 2020

I text my brother who is quarantining in my spare bedroom, “Time to wake up.”

It’s 8:30AM on Christmas Day.

Not a stir through the floorboards.

I call and let it ring that ridiculous, shrill tune of his until his broken voice breaks through. I don’t understand the word he mutters.

“There’s a zoom AA meeting called “Starting Over” at 9:30AM and you have to be on it or you can go home and try to do this alone.”

More garbled sounds.

“This is the only thing you have to do today,” I threaten “to earn today. Then you can sleep and eat and piss and shit and sleep. It couldn’t be easier.”

Finally some audible sense emerges: “On Christmas Day?”

“I won’t even listen in and you can lie to them all you want, but if you want to live here today, you have 30 minutes to earn it.”

After more threats, he reluctantly agrees.

I hear him stir.

I hear the sounds of life.

A wasted life.

I’m so angry with him, I can barely breathe. I don’t want to help him. It’d been a peaceful year without a word from, or about him before last week when his neighbor and a separate friend started messaging me their worries. I don’t mind admitting that I did not want to respond. I’m not a savior or a hero or even a particularly nice person when I’ve lost all respect for a human.

But my dead mother loved him beyond the comprehension of this childless woman, and I loved her, so I picked him up Sunday to let him dry out a bit at my house. Perhaps watching old movies and eating hot food would get him lucid and eager to live a normal life again, for a little while.

I’m no savior but I am a fool.

His first seizure hit at 6pm on Monday.

I knew nothing of alcohol withdrawal seizures save for what I’ve seen depicted on tv or in movies. I always recoiled at the weakness of the alcoholic and the foolishness of the person watching in horror.

I now know it’s the worst thing I will ever see.

I held him like I loved him again, and wiped the blood dripping down his chin from the tongue gash. His dental partials had come loose and he almost swallowed one. He emerged slowly to become a baby, fists curled into his chest and open eyes seeing nothing at all. He made sounds so gutteral, and shook so violently, I screamed.

And then he was calm. And normal again.

He didn’t remember anything, and he willingly took some water in. I asked him if he wanted to go to the ER but he begged me not to worry. He felt better.

His second, and much worse, seizure happened at 11pm and I called 911. You can imagine all the rest.

I felt free when they took him away, but it was only the beginning. Now I am trapped, as he enjoys my house and its warmth, my food, my soap, and my time. I’ve never resented anyone more in my life. It gives me no pride to write this but I have to, or else I’m as guilty of lying to myself as I admonish him for being.

I can hear the sounds of a zoom chat going on upstairs, and I feel pride in my threat for motivating him. Maybe this time, he will try to get better.

Or maybe I’m just counting the seconds until I can take him home and feel satisfied that I did everything I can, and I can be free of him forever.

I resent him for his disease and his weakness, and I’m so proud of my strength and willingness to let him die.

I don’t know which of us is worse.

One Response to “Starting Over: AA on Christmas Day”

  1. mitch Says:

    Deep. Sorry to hear you’re going through this.

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