I wasn’t an only child. My mother decided to bring two children into this world to torture.
My brother is seven years older than me. Growing up, we were never that close; that probably has to do with the age and gender difference more than anything. Like me, he was the target of physical and emotional abuse from both parents. For us, it was our “normal”. We grew up being drilled not to talk to anyone about anything, that whatever happens at home stays at home. So how were we supposed to know any different?
I do know my parents treated my brother differently than me. He was allowed to have friends over; that was never an option for me. He was allowed to go outside; I was stuck in home-prison. He had much more freedom than I ever did. With that being said, using the word freedom may be an overreach. That was the extent of his freedom. Even now, as an adult in his mid-30s, he has to report his actions back to General Mom.
My brother has always done the minimum he needed to do to get by…academically, socially, and occupationally. He failed out of college two or three times. He’s worked at a grocery store for more than fifteen years and I guess he’s okay with that. He’s never made attempts to move on or improve. He wastes his money shopping for frivolous things – a habit which he inherited from our mother. He could do better, he just won’t.
On some level, I do relate to my brother. I can see his pain. He has self-injured for at least the last 12 years. I remember the first time I became aware of it. He locked himself in the bathroom and began bashing his head into the wall dozens of times, until he came out swollen, bloodied, and bruised. What did my parents do? They screamed at him and banished him to his room.
After that, I became more aware of his other injuries – the cuts on his arms and legs, the burns on his hands. One morning, he came home from work with his hand all mangled up. He had “accidentally” slipped it in a commercial mixer at work. In my heart, I believe he did it on purpose. His story just didn’t add up. Neither of my parents ever acknowledged his actions, even though it was quite obvious what was going on. He was struggling through the trauma, just like I was.
You would think, in our shared experiences, that my brother and I would be close and able to relate. We couldn’t be farther apart. I stopped talking to my brother about anything significant years ago. Unlike me, he is completely attached to my mother. They share everything about each other. They have nightly “conferences” (that is what my father calls them) in which they meet in my brother’s bedroom with the door closed. I don’t dare assume what goes on – they do not want to be disturbed – and I don’t think I really want to know. All I know is that it is not normal. I have even had outsiders comment to me how it seems like my mother and brother are married; if they only knew what went on at home.
I don’t understand the connection between my brother and my mother, and it angers me. How can you be this way to a person that hurt you so much? It’s sick. Sometimes, I conclude that he must be brainwashed by her. That is the only explanation I can come up with.