A Letter to my brother, Brian

A Letter to my brother, Brian

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Brian, 

You are a selfish, worthless asshole.  I thought I was to a point of forgiveness.  Guess not.  Howe do you forgive someone who won’t acknowledge they did anything?  I’m going to have to — don’t worry, I’ll spare you the scene.  But forgiveness does more for the one who forgives than for the forgiven.  So I will have to do it at some point.  Right now I am basking in some anger and doing a bit of pain, knocking off some denial and shame.

See, you don’t remember anything worse than fourteen and sixteen year old boys beating up a 10 year old girl.  You were pretty proud of that because you brought it up at Lisa’s too in January, on Dad’s birthday.  Remember when you were drunk and trying to tickle me, and I kept moving and leaving the room?  What the fuck was that all about?  But you were drunk and no doubt you don’t remember that either.  

Yeah, well, you have a pretty good selective memory.  You remember what you want to remember and the rest you drown with alcohol. 

You and Bob, yeah 40, 45 years later I remember and it still bothers me.  It is still affecting my life.  All my life I have struggled with depression, and self-esteem, self confidence, self worth issues.  I let you be because I was certain, I was so sure that you felt guilt and shame for what you did and were suffering.  There was no point in beating you over the head with what you did.  Long before the pond, I mean.  The kind of stuff Bobby started with, hand jobs, blow jobs.  The trust was wore with you because I knew you better, we did stuff together we were all around closer.  

Oh, the damage.  You don’t know.  Your assailant was an older brother of a kid you knew.  Not your own brother.  I am not comparing rapes and rape-damage.  Not really.  I am saying you can’t compare them.  Because it was very different, so you cannot know.  You cannot know how I have turned it all inward, how I blamed myself because blaming you was in some warped way disloyal.  Disloyal to you, disloyal to the family.  So I compounded the damage.  The shame.  

Someone told me I was loveable a few weeks ago.  I said I wanted to believe that so badly.  But I can’t.  It terrifies me.  And it makes me so very sad.  The idea that I withheld any chance of being in a relationship because of how damaged I was/am.  I know it is a lie, but I can only toy with that knowledge.  It is so fragil that a breath of air will snap it. 

This thin that happened between us.  This incest, it is from the devil.  The master of lies.  Look how I phrase that, like it just happened, like we were equally able to make that choice, equally guiltyl  All you had to say was, “I wish that wouldn’t have happened.”  But you did it.  Nothing that I did later negates it.  No, I did not use force, my age, or my strength on you — THAT HAPPENED.    That happened because I was already so damaged, I was trying to fill a void the only way I knew how, the way I had been conditioned to from pre-school.  

But the rape and nearly being drowned — that wasn’t something that happened between us.  You were older and stronger than me.  I didn’t have a prayer.  And I trusted you.  It was a horrible thing.  But I was willing to sacrifice even that — your being accountable for that.  Not now!  At this point, you would have to accept all the blame and apologize , and offer to py for all my therapy because I know what a tight-wad you are.  I can hear you saying, “screw that.”  

And, knowing that, I can now give up any ridiculous idea I may have had about you, and move on.  I will have to forgive you because anger is destructive, but I really don’t have to care about you.  God knows you don’t care about me.  It felt like you died after my birthday.  And when you do die, I will probably feel bad about this, guilty for my harboring such resentment.  I might have to spend a session talking to Karen or Cathy about that when it happens.  I think I will be able to live with it.  

After my birthday, I talked to a lady from the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center.   I talked about you.  I asked something and she talked about their policy of confidentiality.  I stopped her and told her, “I don’t care if you shout it from the mountain tops, I didn’t do anything wrong.”  Well, this is the thing, I’m not spending the rest of my life protecting you.  If it comes out, it comes out.  If your wife and kid hear about it, oh well.  That isn’t my problem.  It isn’t exactly dinner conversation, so I don’t foresee it ever happening.  But it isn’t my job to keep it neatly tucked under the rug anymore.  


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19 comments

  1. Gamato04 Volunteer

    Thank you for sharing this letter with us. I hope writing everything out was as helpful as it seems to have been. Do you have more?Would you be willing to share them?

    1. Solongago

      Yeah, I wrote another to this brother and shared it a while back and one to my mom and shared that further back. I don’t know if I even want to read those again. They were a while back and so much has changed since then. This is really a work in progress and very current. Karen told me to write yesterday. I told her I wrote the letter, and she said, “that was 2 weeks ago wasn’t it?” I countered, the Wednesday before last. She gave me the “Well?” look. I journal a lot, I wrote a lot of letters to my previous therapist that I would never have sent, and the ones to Brian and the one to Mom, but mostly I journal and I share that sometimes.

  2. Zoe Volunteer

    Hi, Solongago.

    I’m glad you were able to express your thoughts here like this. I know it can still be difficult to talk about though, or to picture saying these things to your brother, so this takes a lot of strength. I hope you know that all of your feelings are valid, and they matter. It’s okay to be angry. It’s okay to be resentful. It’s okay that you still can’t forgive him. You don’t have to feel guilty or pressure yourself into feeling a certain way. Just feel what you feel.

    I’m sorry that he’s never acknowledged the things he’s done to you, and all the pain he’s caused. I understand how infuriating that is. But I’m glad you’ve reached a place where you don’t feel like you’re obligated to hide this or protect him anymore, and that you know it wasn’t your fault. That’s definitely an important place to reach.

    Thank you for sharing this with us. <3

    Zoe.

    1. Solongago

      Yes, thank you. Right now, I am feeling pressured to be out of the group by my regular therapist. I have to see her tomorrow. I don’t know. I think I have progressed, but I don’t feel ready to go along alone. I am not where I want to be, not even close. I still have this all or nothing feeling, like if I quit the group thing, and am not fixed, then that will be it, I will be as far along as I ever will be.

      Ah well. Thank you for your comment. Things are really crazy right now, and I don’t want to leave the group. But I can’t afford it.

  3. Solongago

    Thank you all. Writing the letter was helpful, but only in so far as it was read and responded to. Putting the words on paper helps only in organizing the thoughts. Then it dies. It is only when I share the words, either in group or in here, or in therapy, that they live and help me to feel the feelings and validation. I hope too, that someone may read what I struggle with or what worked for me and maybe not feel as alone in what they are going through, or is able to do something about what happened to them, or to do something about what is happening with a child they are responsible for.

    1. Jess Volunteer

      I am so glad that writing and sharing the letter with us here at AVFTI was helpful for you. I can understand the feeling that writing the letter only does so much, that the validation comes from sharing those feelings. It’s amazing that you’re able to share all of these feelings, especially with the hope in mind that what you share will help others. That is simply and completely wonderful. I admire everything about how you’ve shared your healing process, even on the not so great days. You’re incredibly brave and you show that every time that you share with us.

      Stay strong, Solongago! Sending healing thoughts your way. <3
      -Jess

  4. nicolegorman Volunteer

    Solongago,

    This sounds like it was probably extremely hard to write and I’m so sorry that you’ve been going through this pain with your brother for so many years. I hoped writing it was helpful for you and was able to give you some peace. I’m glad that you’re deciding to forgive for yourself, and not for him. It’s important that you do what you have to do for yourself to get better. You are giving yourself a chance at a better life that he tried to take from you. The recovery process is different for everyone so whatever you have to do to get better is valid and you should never feel shame for that or for anything that happened to you. Thank you for sharing this with us. It was inspiring and shows so much strength.

  5. jamie.lynn Volunteer

    Solongago,
    I am so glad that you wrote this. I hope that it was as therapeutic as it appears to be! Sometimes this is exactly what we as survivors need to do in order to get out those bad thoughts and feelings we have. And if you’re not ready to forgive, don’t! Take your time. This is your process, your life, your healing! We are here for you if you need anything else. I admire your strength in writing this!

    -jamie

  6. sfmbelle413

    Hey there Solongago,

    Writing a letter to your brother was an awesome idea. It’s great to put down your feelings on paper about someone, especially if you can’t or don’t want to tell them face to face. I hear that you’re still hurting – and that’s okay. There is no timeline for healing or for forgiveness.

    You’re completely right that it’s not your job to keep everything tucked neatly away. Your job is to take care of yourself and to make sure you get the support you so deserve. I can tell you’re doing everything right – reaching out, writing open letters, and seeking professional help. You are so strong and I admire that about you.

    Sending light your way,
    SFM

  7. CarmenR Volunteer

    Hi there,

    First, I would like to say that I am sorry for what you have been through. It was not your fault, and you are not to blame. Your brother should not have hurt you like he did. He was supposed to protect you, and I’m sorry he didn’t. As Erin said, I hope writing this letter to him helped you. I know it can be very theraputic and healing to write, even if you don’t necessarily send it. Thank you for sharing your story with us. Stay strong, and let us know if there is anything else we can do to help you,

    Carmen

  8. Erin O'Callaghan Day Captain

    i hope this helped writing this. I wrote a letter to my brother at one point at the suggestion of my therapist. I never sent it, but it was cathartic to write it out. Thanks for sharing with us.

    Erin

  9. music2799 Volunteer

    Hi Solongago,
    Thank you for sharing such a personal letter and updating us. What he did was horrible, and he refused to acknowledge it. You should not have had to go through what you did. Your anger is valid and very understandable.
    I think anger is a difficult emotion to feel because we don’t even know what to do with it sometimes. After not acknowledging it for a long time, it can feel scary to experience anger. You’re right – denying it and blaming yourself for feeling this way can make it so much worse. I encourage you to release your anger in healthy ways so that it won’t build up inside you. Repressing the anger can be very unhealthy.
    We’re here for you. Please update us if you need anything. It’s not easy to be going through so much, and it can help to have supportive people around you. You’re strong, and you can make it through this.

    1. Solongago

      Thank you Music2799. I am feeling helpless. I hate feeling helpless. I think it is one of the worse feelings. When I was a child, I was helpless. But by blaming myself, by making cognitive distortions about what I might have done differently, well that made me feel less helpless. If you are helpless things can happen again and again, but if you can pull your left ear and twitch your right nostril at the same time, and that will make the ogre go to sleep, then you are no longer helpless. That it is totally freaking out there (and this is just a silly example) doesn’t matter. I had to be to blame so I was able to go home with my assailant and live in the house with him for 5 more years. But now I know that I was helpless, and helplessness will bring me to anger faster than anything else I think. I was helpless when it came to my insurance company not paying. Anger. I am helpless in fixing this oral cancer in my young bitch, I am angry, and turning that inward, so I am depressed. I am helpless when it comes to my brother’s response, and I am furious about that. It won’t last forever. But right now the anger is there, and I need to work on it. I think Cathy gets this, but I am not sure Karen does. So while I can graduate from the group, I would be turning my back on the connection that I have there and leaving myself with Karen, who really wasn’t hearing me at all yesterday. So, now I have to make a choice, and that is to wait until Saturday and then try to talk to her about it, or to bring it up in group tomorrow.

  10. Marissa Volunteer

    Hey Solongago,

    Thanks for keeping us updated. I’m glad you are able to come to us and let things out, and I really hope it has been helping you. We are your army. We are standing behind you – never forget that. Don’t hesitate to keep coming back, we are here to listen.

    Marissa

    1. Solongago

      Thank you Marissa. Things are really tough right now. My three-year-old German Shepherd dog that I whelped out of critters that I bred and raised, has oral cancer and they gave her 180 days to live a little more than a month ago. The tumor has returned, and her health is actually really, really good. She is playing and jumps up and down to see me when I come home. She is eating good, gaining weight and they tell me the tumor will end up suffocating her, and it will be kinder to put her down before then. It feels monstrous. I want to lay down and die next to her when she goes. I am really irrational about this. I am thinking thoughts that are not good. I talked to Karen today, but not about wanting to be dead. I talked about Quinnie, and I read the letter. She asked me when I was going to graduate from the group. I told her I didn’t want to. She started pushing really hard. I told her she was. She said that is how we grow. Cathy said to trust me, and that I have done a ton of work, and she has not pressed on my leaving the group because of what happened on my birthday. But she did my treatment plan on Thursday. Karen said it is a good thing to graduate and I can go on on my own. I’m panicking. Ah well. I will survive this. It just seems to be so much all together, and Christmas is coming which had me so down last year, I made the decision to go back into therapy.

  11. Northlane1991 Volunteer

    Hey there Solongago

    My heart just dropped while reading this but i hope you feel proud of yourself for opening up to us all. The pain he caused is unacceptable and i am truly sorry this happened to you. please let us know if you need any type of support or just someone to talk with we are here for you. We are always here.

    1. Solongago

      Thank you, Northlane1991. I am sorry it was kind of ugly. Yeah, some ugly things happened. And I am finally admitting to myself that they were horrible, that it wasn’t my fault, and that they really do affect my life and have affected my life all along. Ok, I have played with those ideas for months and months, but I am finally getting there I think. This anger that I have right now is actually healthy. We should have an Anger Party. Because all the time that I spend denying the anger and burying the anger and abusing myself for being angry is compounding the damage. Letting the anger out, and aiming it at the right party means (I hope) that I can feel it and let it go. As I told Alex below anger is really hard for me, so this idea of embracing the anger, sitting with the anger, expressing the anger, is kind of foreign. I’ve been angry before, but it is usually experienced with such guilt and shame, that it seems not worth it. Anyhow, thank you. I appreciate it.

  12. alexcostello Volunteer

    Hi there Solongago,

    My heart felt heavy ready all of the terrible things that have been done to you. But I hope that you feel proud of yourself for opening up to all of us and sharing what has happened to you and the pain it has caused. I hope that sharing with us and writing these things out has brought you some catharsis and has healed you in some way. I can’t tell you how sorry I am that this happened to you, and that you were treated this way by people that anyone, let alone people you should be able to trust. Please let us know if there’s anything we can do for you, and please feel free to talk to us whenever you need to. We are always here.

    1. Solongago

      Thank you Alex. I’m sorry. I am getting in touch with a part of me that I totally shut down, and the anger is there. I have trouble reading other people’s angry posts. I know that anger isn’t in itself bad, but it is uncomfortable and it frightens me, any anger, my own as much as anyone else’s. The point was not to make folks feel bad. This has been difficult. I’ve blamed everyone but my brothers. I’ve blamed my mom. I’ve blamed myself. I’ve blamed the way the world is. But I have been staying away from blaming my brothers for some reason. Like my mom is safe, I will always love her. But my brothers, maybe I am afraid that the family will fall apart. Maybe I am afraid that the wrong response will extinguish me. Maybe I was still afraid of the violence my brother is capable of. I really don’t know. I am formulating this as I type, and I just had a pretty grueling therapy session. But thank you for your response. It does help to get the words down and out, and to be heard.