“Are you blind, man? You’re life is falling apart around you and you can’t even see it!” Matt yelled.
“I’ve got it under control!” Mike shouted back, knuckles turning white as his grip tightened around the bottle of beer in his hand.
“Yeah, like you had it under control when you almost killed yourself driving drunk or when you hit your wife and broke her jaw—”
“Shut up,” Mike growled in a hoarse whisper.
But he didn’t, “Or like when you almost shoved your daughter down the stairs!”
“Shut up!” Mike screamed, the stringent smell of liquor on his breath.
“No! I won’t shut up because you need to hear the truth!”
Matt hated confronting his brother like this, but he knew he had too. He wasn’t going to let him be destroyed by his addiction; he wasn’t going to let him go on any longer refusing to admit that he had a problem. He hated confronting him, but he loved him too much not to. He was going to force him to see the truth if it was the last thing he did.
“The truth is that I have it under control and you need to butt out of my life!” Mike yelled.
“The truth is that you are an alcoholic and if you don’t stop fooling yourself and get help you are going to destroy your life and your family along with it! Can you not see what you’re doing to them? To Mom and Dad? To all of us? Can you not see what you’ve become?”
Mike couldn’t take it. It felt as if all the demons of his past were dropping like bombs around him and the walls he’d erected around himself were being shot to pieces. If Matt said one more word, he was going to snap.
“Your own wife and child are afraid of you!”
Mike hurled the beer bottle across the room and it smashed through a window, the glass shattering into hundreds of broken shards upon the linoleum.
That was it!
Mike charged at his brother and tackled him, taking him to the floor.
In a rage, he struck out, beating him with his fists, drawing blood.
Matt threw his weight to the side, rolling on top of him. He gave him a right hook to the face and dazed him. Grabbing him by the collar, he yanked him up on his feet and drug him into the bathroom. He shoved him toward the shower and he fell into the bathtub.
Matt turned the shower handle and let cold water douse his brother’s drunken fury. Then he pulled him out of the tub and, grabbing the back of his shirt, shoved him toward the mirror.
“Look at yourself!” he yelled.
Mike looked up at his reflection—half-drunk, soaking wet, water droplets trickling down from his hair and rolling down his face. His face was ashen and gaunt, eyes bloodshot and undercircled by gray crescents, blood on his knuckles from trying to bash in his brother’s face.
He glanced up at Matt, saw the damage he’d done, and the truth hit him like a semi-truck had just plowed straight into his gut.
He crumpled to his knees and sobbed.
He felt Matt kneel at his side and the strong arms pulling him into an embrace.
He wept into the fabric of Matt’s t-shirt.
“Help me,” he cried.
“I will,” Matt murmured, “God will…but you have to take the first step.”
“What?” he asked pulling away and meeting his gaze.
Tears to match his own spilled down his brother’s face, even over the wounds that he’d made with his own hands.
“Admit that you have a problem…and get help.”
Mike looked down at the floor.
That was the hardest part, wasn’t it?
He inhaled a sharp breath, “I’m an alcoholic,” he looked up as the truth manifested itself in words, “I’m an alcoholic.”
The words felt like they’d been ripped from his chest and yet at the same time it somehow felt as if an invisible chain that had bound his heart for far too long was broken.
The thought of the struggle ahead passed through his mind and nearly crushed his fledgling resolve.
How long the road, how hard the reality.
So many had tried to help him see it and failed. Their concern falling on blind eyes, their arguments on deaf ears, and so they’d quit…but Matt hadn’t. Matt refused to quit on him. He’d revealed the dark truth to the light and stuffed his face in it until he opened his eyes and saw it for what it was.
He’d refused to admit the truth for years and he remained trapped inside the walls of his addiction and denial. Yet now that he’d admitted the truth, he could see the light of freedom through the tunnel. He had the hardest battle he’d ever have to fight ahead of him, but now he had the chance and the courage to face it. How painful…and yet how free the truth.
© Whitney L. Schwartz