Even a solitary life such as mine brings pain. The world comes in, how could it not with the amount of news we watch? But other things, such as saying no to a younger brother who over the years learned to expect things from me that are out of bounds. Yet with my poor self-esteem, and feelings of duty to care for my younger brother, I hop at his requests, just like I tend to hop at Samuel’s requests.
Stevie was trained early on by Tom to treat me cruelly with no consequences. That I deserved it. Because Tom had a secret- what he did to me, so with it came making me look bad and unworthy. That helped create a scenario with all 6 other brothers. Since the outlook towards me is that I’m more worthless than others, it’s OK to treat me with scorn, and as if I’m invisible. I easily went along with it so you will just love me.
This summer the angst of saying no to little brother Stevie has caused a great deal of pain. Saying yes to my needs overriding his took great strength. It has been a long time coming. At eight years old after Dad died, Mom and I sang Silent Night each night to Stevie, along with the ‘Now I lay me down to sleep’ prayer.
Stevie would ask me, “Is Daddy gone?”
Even at my young age taking care of Stevie came naturally. Mom became absorbed in going out into the work force despite her grief, and also started drinking more.
“He’s not gone, he’s up in heaven looking over us,” I said.
As we grew the older boys were out of the house a lot. It was Stevie and me wandering the neighborhood on our bikes while Mom was at work. Keeping an eye on him became my job.
But also through the years his tendency to treat me differently than others, less than, not worthy of respect, went unnoticed by him, but hurt me sharply. It has only been recently that in my own quiet way I say NO.
Not without angst. Finally having a talk with him yesterday, I did relay that after saying no about visiting so Samuel could do electrical work for him he completely stopped emailing, calling, or videoing.
I repeated it because he didn’t seem to hear me.
“After I said no, I didn’t hear from you,” I said, adding, “I thought you must have been really hurt. It’s not that I don’t want to see you, I cannot sleep elsewhere and must take something every night. It’s a huge challenge. After going to Cory’s, then camping with Shane, I felt I met my two biggest challenges and goals. Adding one more was just too much, plus I’ve been sick for a month with diverticulitis.”
“Oh, well, you think too much, you overthink it,” he said, obviously wanting to move on, unconnected to his own inner workings.
Later while walking the meadow my thoughts bent on what he said that in the past might have hurt me. It was a criticism saying I think too much. Talking aloud to myself I said to him, “You don’t think enough!” Not something I could do in person, not just yet. He is way to sensitive to criticism himself of any kind.
My tears began while trying to explain to him about how hard it is to travel, especially after his slight show of compassion about it.
“Sorry you have such a hard time traveling, but it’s OK,” he said. More tears.
“No, it’s not. I can’t do what I want to do. My body is just tired out after a stress filled life,” I said, not going into childhood issues which I’ve always kept from him, protecting him. Don has recently told both of them the broad issues of my being a survivor, as that’s what dysfunctional families do, tell personal things about someone who is not there.
Not going up to help my little brother bothered me that much, enough to cause tears. My needs came first, and though taking that step was incredibly hard it also came with more understanding, love, and care for myself… and more self-respect.
That is growth, healing and growth, which can often be painful.