The following blog post is written by a SAFE Project volunteer. Though some sections have been lightly edited, it is otherwise presented in their own words. Please consider sharing your story with us.
By Amanda Paris
My brother was born on June 10, 1993, seven minutes before me. Yep, we’re twins. We were born into a family of addicts who also had mental health issues. Our home life was often chaotic and violent. Despite our troubled childhood, my brother was outgoing, popular, funny, and kind. In 2012 our stepmom passed unexpectedly from a heart attack. She was only 42 years old and had raised us pretty much our whole lives. It was a shock and hard on both of us, our little sister, and especially our dad. About a year later our dad got really sick and had to be hospitalized. He was later taken to an assisted living center where he would eventually pass away a week before Christmas in 2013. Our lives as we knew it were over, and we split apart as we became adults.
Busy with motherhood and living in a different city, I didn’t see the signs at first. We both drank as teenagers so sometimes when we’d speak and he’d be intoxicated. I didn’t think too much about it. I could tell losing our dad had changed him because it had changed me as well, and I brushed his sometimes strange behavior off as he was struggling and didn’t want to talk about it. I wish I would’ve tried harder.
I finally admitted to myself that he had a drinking problem but I didn’t understand the severity of it until April 2022. It was the first time I had seen him in quite some time. I’m ashamed to admit that I don’t know how long it had been since I’d seen him. We had several arguments over the phone, mostly because of his drinking problem, and he was intoxicated during many if not all of those conversations. I had been avoiding him for my own sanity. I called my brother over to our mother’s house for her birthday and he actually came, but the person I saw was not my brother. His physical appearance had changed drastically. My slender brother was so swollen he was almost unrecognizable. He was driven over by his girlfriend and could barely keep his balance standing up. I was horrified. Over the next few months I struggled with going back and forth with my brother and trying to get him help. I was so lost and wished I had more power to get him the help he needed.
Finally in May 2022 he went to a rehab in California. I felt a sense of relief for the first time in so long. Over the month that he was there we talked on the phone almost daily and it felt like I was getting my brother back. I was so happy. Towards the end of his stay I had already begun to worry that he was going to relapse because his attitude had changed since he first got there. While he was in rehab he was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He told me he didn’t believe it, but I think it honestly scared him. He relapsed immediately upon leaving rehab. I was devastated and I avoided him even more. I’ll always regret that. Four short months after I really reconnected with my brother, he died.
My brother was an alcoholic and he lost his battle with addiction on August 2, 2022. He was only 29 years old. He had so much potential and life to live, but his legacy lives on.
“There are some who bring a light so great to the world that even after they have gone the light remains.”