It occurs to me that I should spend some time talking about my relationship with one of my abusers. My first boyfriend is not a part of my life and hasn’t been for a long time, but since the other abuser was my brother, obviously he is still a part of my life. Since I’m talking about my relationship with my brother, I might as well also talk about my relationship with my parents.
My feelings toward my brother are… complicated. Humans, as social animals, are hard wired to love members of their family group, but it’s also perfectly natural to hate those who harm us. In me, the love and the hate I have for my brother cancel each other out and I wind up feeling nothing. I don’t really interact with my brother any more than I absolutely have to and give him little more thought than you probably give to The Thing That Makes The Trash Go Away in your monkey sphere way of thought.
In a way, this makes me sad. I see others who have close relationships with their siblings and it makes me jealous. They have someone around their own age who was there for them for more or less their whole life and I don’t. Because of the way we moved around when I was little, I don’t even have any childhood friends. I am never going to know what it’s like to have the kind of relationship with someone that you can only have when you and your best friend grew up together and you both know that you’ll each fight for the other. I know that I have very good reasons why I don’t have that kind of relationship with my brother, but I still wish I could have it with someone.
I never told my parents what was happened to me while it was happening and I don’t really know why. It wasn’t out of fear; I never thought that things would get worse if I said anything. My best guess is that it never occurred to me to ask for help because my independent streak made me feel like I should handle my problems myself. And when it was over, I made the conscious decision not to tell my parents what happened because their relationship with my brother was strained for many years and I didn’t want to make it worse.
Then, on day after my dad’s sister had just left from a week-long visit, I was in the car with my mom and she was telling me about things she’d learned from my aunt about my dad’s childhood during the visit. Apparently, a lot of horrible things happened to my dad when he was little that he still can’t talk about and as I sat there listening to the things that had happened to him and his sisters, I finally gave in to the urge to confess what had happened to me. My mother shut down for half the day after that.
When she was able to talk to me about it again, she said she didn’t know how to process the information and blamed herself for not noticing it even though she was a stay-at-home mom. I told her that I don’t blame her for not noticing what was happening because I never said anything. I know that it’s very easy to miss problems like that, especially when you’re too close to them; it’s like looking at an pointillist painting, if you stand too close, all you can see is a bunch of little dots, you have to stand back to see the whole picture. That’s actually one of my greatest fears for the future. I’m afraid that when I have children, history will repeat itself and I won’t see it happening either. On the other hand, I’m also afraid that my experience will make me overprotective of my children and I’ll wind up smothering them.
Anyway, my mom and I discussed it and we decided not to tell my father what happened to me. We both feel that he would not be able to handle the knowledge. I’m not particularly close with my father in part due to the fact that he was frequently away because of his job in the military. But he also has a terrible temper that makes it hard to get close to him. Unfortunately, I inherited his temper, but luckily, it takes a lot more to set me off than it does my father.