My youngest brother turned twenty a couple of days ago [side note: fuck, I am so old] and one of my other brothers my sister and I all went out for dinner tonight. Last year when we went out for dinner for his birthday it culminated in my sister coming to my house to tell me how I’m a condescending bitch who doesn’t deserve love. I was patient about her being angry, but the love part crossed a threshold of abuse that I refuse to tolerate anymore. I told her to go fuck herself. It ended poorly.
My older bother is perhaps nervous around me. He’s recently tried reconnecting with me after a lull in our relationship that had been preceded by tenuous circumstances [and a lifetime of built up resentments], and I haven’t been against it but I haven’t been excited either. I don’t mean that sarcastically. I simply don’t have a lot of time, and he can be stressful to spend time with, so it’s difficult for me to be stoked about spending my little bits of free time around him very often.
My sister was very clearly having some sort of relational problem. She didn’t come into the restaurant for the first twenty minutes, then proceeded to vaguely remark about her problem throughout the entire dinner. When asked about it by my older brother she made it a point to inform him that not everyone at the table was safe and she didn’t want to get into it right then. Later she made a similar comment about how only 90% of the table was made of safe people. I don’t know how that equates mathematically, but each time she motioned very distinctly to me. I thought about confronting her then, about her passive aggression toward me. My mouth was literally open for thirty seconds straight before I decided not to. It’s okay for her to not feel safe around me, I realized, and I wasn’t going to get anywhere by confronting her so I’m not really sure what my goal would be. Before we left I told her I could clearly tell something was going on and I hope she’s okay, she said thanks and told me there was something going on but she doesn’t feel safe talking to me about it. At least she was direct that time. I can respect directness and boundaries.
My newly twenty year old brother and I had some time together alone when my oldest brother went to check on my sister in the car. It worked out perfectly, since I was going to pull him aside later if we didn’t get that chance organically. I gave him a check for $150 and told him he could spend it on whatever he wanted, but that I thought he might want to use it to get his license. Then I gave him an impassioned, unexpectedly tearful speech about how I wanted to encourage him to do whatever he needed to do, short of dealing drugs and prostitution, to get out of our parents house. That if he stayed Mom and Dad are just going to keep on killing him more and more each day. He’s such an intelligent, perceptive, kind, passionate, mature, resilient, awesome kid and he can do anything he wants. The world Mom and Dad created is a lie. It’s not a place a fear, it’s a place to LIVE.
After a while a part of me was talking to my eighteen year old self, and maybe that’s why I started to cry. For the pain I felt then, and the amplification of it after I left and started really feeling my feelings. For my little brother, who for much of his young life I was responsible for on a parental level and who is still continuing to be hurt. I see myself in him. I have to be careful not to fall into a savior complex, but I hope my words tonight gave him new options.
I felt like how I imagine my best friend talking to me six or seven years ago might have felt: passionate and loving and sad and concerned. He didn’t know what to say afterward, and neither did I when I got this kind of speech back then. His face was blank, like I remember mine being, but I swear there were glimmers and pangs and I hope to God he got something out of it. Even if it was just the knowledge that I believe in him.
I feel a little desperate to get him out, to hop into little mommy mode again, but he’s an adult now and he’s totally capable. He needs belief. He needs hope. He needs the ability to accept positivity. We all do. I really hope my siblings are okay in the end, even if it’s without me, I’d get that. I just want us all to make it out. To able to live on the outside.