Sunday, June 07, 2009

Wounded Soul

My Dear Anon and I were talking today about the wear and tear that can be inflicted on our souls. Coincidentally, right after I got off the phone with her from that conversation - my soul got a major tear in it in the form of a call from my brother.

My brother and I get along pretty well. To the point where we even are willing to spend time together voluntarily. Once I hit the ripe old age of 18, suddenly the 12 year age difference between us became less- as at that point (and possibly beforehand) I became more mature than him anyways.

Our mother had a spending habit. I remember a childhood filled with her buying marble tables, and fur jackets for herself and her lavishing little diamond and opal and emerald rings on me. I'm not married, but I already have two sets of china and an antique china cabinet to store it all in. My father had taken on a second job, and our bills were essentially paid by him- leaving her to spend her money freely. I imagine things got much easier financially when she passed away.

My brother inherited some of this. But what makes it worse, is that you can't even see the tangible evidence of what he spends his money on. I don't see fur jackets and marble coffee tables. What I see is a 3 bedroom condo with two empty rooms. A kitchen that is only half finished because he ran out of money prior to completion.

My father sold the house I grew up in to my brother. He was left with a house with a small mortgage, a finished basement, and many of my mother's antiques and dishes. By the time he sold that house, the basement was gutted, the antiques were sold or simply gone somehow.

And now? I get calls. And lies. Lies that are so transparent to me, it's like they come across the phone line in bright lights and flashing colours. Screaming at me. Blinding me. Bruising me.

So when he tells me that he has to borrow my computer because his is acting funny? I know that means that his TV/internet has been cut off. When he starts asking me to call his cell all the time? His phone is cut off too.

Sometimes he admits it to me. He told me recently about how his wages are being garnisheed because of owing money for taxes. He can only use limited hydro because, while it's not legal to cut him off completely, they can minimize his usage.

When he's not lying to me, he's demanding that I don't tell our father about any of this. He frequently borrows money from our father, and while my Dad doesn't like to talk about it - I always know when it happens because I end up with a gift at the same time. (My Father is determined to be fair).

But it hurts. Somewhere in the area of my heart I feel a tightness. I struggle to hold back the tears when I think about my brother. I think about the fact that he's alone and living in a half renovated condo. The fact that this must be humiliating for him. The fact that he can't seem to pull himself out of it.

And I get angry. I want to shake him and demand to know why it has to be this way. You don't get utilities cut off for being a month late. It takes time, and warnings for it to get that far. I don't make any more money than him- yet I've never missed a bill payment. Why can't he do the same?

And then my heart hurts more. At the thought of the futility of that lecture. That it wouldn't change anything. At the fact that I want so much to be kept in the dark like my father. I don't want to hear about this. But how can I deny him the ability to unburden himself onto me? I'm the only person that he can share with. That's the difference between friends and family.

But the tightness and weight won't go away. As much as I try to shut it out, it's constantly a shadow looming over me. The fact that he is the beneficiary on my meagre insurance policy. The fact that when asked what I would do if I won the lottery, my internal response is that it would go to him. All of it if necessary. Followed by doubts that anything I do would ever be enough - or that it would only be a temporary fix.

How do you turn away the pain of your own flesh and blood? The tiny remnants of my family that remains? I want to protect my father from the knowledge, and make it alright for my brother.

But it hurts so much. It's crushing and debilitating to have this information. To have this love for a person whose attitudes and behaviours are so completely alien to my own. I don't understand...anything. Why he can't seem to catch up. What his priorities are. Why he seems to always be in a position that in his mind forces him to lie.

Are the lies his version of protecting us from pain? Or to save his own pride?

My soul? Is torn. And aching right now.


Sherri said...

Wow, you could be describing my brother. I would be blogging about him all the time except he'll start reading my blog when/if he gets his internet turned on. He's started his life over so many times I can't count them all, and I doubt he can either. I do what I can to keep him from freezing to death and sleeping on the floor, but I can't be responsible for him, you know? I have kids to feed and clothe. You're right, it hurts. It hurts a lot to know I can't fix whatever is broken in there.

peau said...

people have their own paths and a lot of times their paths seem a lot more treacherous than our own. but it's their path. they are entitled to it. you can't shoulder anybody's pain, nor should you have to. he's put himself into situations, i believe, in order to figure out a way to get out of them. perhaps that's where you come in; you talk to him, maybe you even guide him.

but you can't control him. you can only control yourself and your actions. when it gets to the point when he's asking you to do something that goes against your grain, say no. because that's YOUR path.

you shouldn't have to shoulder all of this. you're not responsible for your grown brother. your dad knows that, believe me. he probably also knows precisely the kind of shenanigans your brother has gotten himself into. maybe he's out of it because that's the way he likes it.

i struggled with a messianic complex for years because of the nature of my childhood. now i realize that i can't actually fix anybody; i can sure as hell love them and offer what is mine to give --- but that's all. and if i won the lottery? sure, i'd pay off my brother's debts but guess what? i'd also buy a house in Hawaii and have a ball.

Amber said...

My heart is aching for you and your brother, right along with yours.

I have a sister... that lies and manipulates. That almost seems to believe her own lies and it's happened so many times that... if she told me it was raining outside, I would peek outside to double-check before grabbing my coat.

Because it's about the mundane things, too.

I wish I had answers for you... but I don't.

All I can say is that I "get" where you're at right now... and I wish it wasn't a place any of us ever had to visit. Or camp at.

But just know that you're not there alone. I love you, my sweet friend! Please don't hesitate to holla at one of ya girls if you need anything!!!


Faiqa said...

I know that the "right" thing to say is that you shouldn't take so much responsibility for the state of your brother's affairs, but I find your love and devotion very touching. Everyone should be as lucky as he is to have someone love them and worry for them as you are doing right now.

I'm sorry that you're hurting, but I think it's because you're a good and compassionate person. Which in the cosmic scale of things is in the "good" column. (Not to imply if you stopped worrying tomorrow you wouldn't be... did I mention it was late?)

Chief Rock Chef said...

Sadly I think that all the time he can rely on being bailed out he has no real need to change.

It is a tough one. I guess the options are to either get involved and try to get him to sort his life out, or to shrug and think "hey, it's his life, his problem". Maybe you could try the first and then move to the second if it fails?

Nat said...

Peau makes a great point. It's one of the hardest things to let go... I know there are days when I still just want to fix it. But I can't...

Kyla Roma said...

I'm so sorry, this is one of those things that's just up and down hard. Knowing you have to let go is hard - but you're right, these things don't happen over night, they're part of habitual decisions that become pattern.

Loving someone sometimes means saying no. It can mean understanding where they're coming from and knowing that while you can be there to love them, you can't offer financial help but maybe you can offer to go through his books to see what's happening, and help him make a plan.

Your responsibility as a sister is to be there for him to listen and to care - and for the record, it sounds like you're being a wonderful sister.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry. Its got to be such a hard situation, one i've luckily never had to deal with. I don't have any advice or words of wisdom but I know that its not right for him to ask his family members, the ones he loves, to take on his problems. I think Peau said it best.

I hope everything works out. Hang in there, you're an amazing sister to deal with this and I hope he learns to appreciate this once he (hopefully) gets past all this.

Becky said...

I'm so sorry. It hurts when you a loved one spiral down a dark path. I hope things get better.


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