“How are you today?” Shane asked on his usual drive back from dropping off his son at school, a phone call looked forward to every morning.
Dissolving into tears I reply, “Not so good. I can’t be around ‘them’ meaning any of the brothers who keep pressuring me to join in their little group.
Thinking it was good for me, and meeting some kind of obligation to ‘family’, I called Don last week. He was glad I finally accepted his invitation to the city for bagels outdoors in his garden. But then in one breath he also added, ‘I’ll ask Seth too.’
Don picked up on my lack of excitement about adding people to the bagel brunch so stated he’d keep it just us if that would be more comfortable for me. And more people easily overwhelms me. But I said go ahead, ask him. (where did my wisdom go?)
So though it seemed like a normal get-together, that night after over three weeks of pleasant sleep patterns and joyful days of walking the meadow, medication was required to sleep.
Interacting with conspirators that forced silence from me about early repeated traumas awakened memories, taking me right back to age 8 and all the ways I used to be…. doormat, pleasing, invisible. Those that imposed this gag order heaped dirt over the grave of who I really am or could be.
Nothing has changed except me. I then invited Seth to go camping at our most favorite spot in the glen. Don and his wife came too. All this since Friday, the ramifications still clutching my soul, holding me down feeling victimized all over again, their puppet on a string.
My body shut down and didn’t begin to relax till coming home. There’s still a far way to go to resume my peaceful life. Sleep will not yet return. Memories flood my brain especially after Seth sent an email of photos from the trip but also added the eldest, Tom.
Seth has been Tom’s life- long buddy, always choosing to spend time with him and almost no time spent with me in any way except rare emails. Little in the way of actually being together. Seeing his name was a kick in the gut, including Tom who destroyed any semblance of the little girl I was.
Tom, who crept up in the night to suck on my little girl vagina while I slept. I awoke in the middle of the night to see his head down there wondering what was happening. My younger brother and I were given the yearly treat of sleeping end to end on the the couch by the Christmas tree falling asleep watching the Christmas tree lights. Tom was home from college for Christmas break. I was 8 years old. My grand-daughter is that age now.
Tom treated me horribly after that and decades more until cutting off all ties permanently. He would constantly put me down around others to make me look less than human. Then his crime wasn’t so vile if I wasn’t worthy of life. He did it so slyly no one really noticed, or if they did, did nothing to confront him. His campaign of destruction did destroy my self-esteem more than everything else suffered silently, the rape, the endless attacks, too many to count done by other ‘brothers.’
When you touch me like that, you lose the right to be called brother. You are nothing to me. Three others have died leaving me with feelings of relief and safety. But these three- Don, Seth, and Stevie- who did not touch me that way are also NOT SAFE.
My invisibility became solid. Seeing that email with Tom’s name added numbed me and made last night’s sleep impossible as memories stole my peace. I have asked the Stevie, and Don not to add me to their emails that have Tom in the list. So I don’t get any emails because they much prefer Tom.
Those requests are recent. It has taken over 60 years to ask for a scrap of respect. Seth ought to know better. But he denies that I even suffered such tragedies early on. How else could he make one of my attackers his best buddy, just as the others do too.
He also drinks heavily which probably has turned his brain to mush. Another reason to keep my distance. Alcoholism is very much a part of my growing up family, first my father, then my mother.
Seth’s modes operando is denial. When sending a link to my book he wouldn’t answer my emails for months. When I tried to repair that rift, his response was that I shouldn’t be putting our family’s dysfunction out there. (the book is entirely anonymous with made up names for everyone)
That denies my very existence. Around him I don’t feel good, nor can I be myself. I turn into the doormat that never can please, waiting on him, trying not to offend him, being a robot of who he needs me to be.
My son immediately says to his weeping mother over the phone before starting his work day, “I’m proud of you. You reached out and tried to make it work. Everyone’s older, there’s less time, and you tried. Don’t beat yourself over it. You will work through these feelings then know again it cannot work.”
“But I keep doing it, like a moth to flame,” I cried, adding, “I thought I’d regret not trying then one of them dies. But I regret trying.”
“Well, everyone wants family,” he gently added.
“I can’t love them with them. I can only love them afar.” I said, a mantra tossed aside when the need for family pulls thinking this time will be alright.
It isn’t, it won’t be. Love from afar, even if the love is for the idea of a what a loving brother would be…and accept the loneliness that comes with the knowledge that this group is NOT family. I do best as an orphan.