Happy Birthday, Golden Child

Yesterday was my brother’s 37th birthday.

I thought for sure I was going to be emotional about it; birthdays have been a reminder of the family I lost when I ran away. But I really didn’t feel anything at all. I wasn’t sad. I wasn’t angry. I wasn’t anything. I just said today is my brother’s birthday and then I went on with my day.

I used to feel sorry for my brother. I used to feel guilty for leaving him behind. But all of that changed last month when I finally saw my brother for who he really was: my mother’s son.

I know it isn’t all my brother’s fault. I think he drank a little too much of our mother’s Kool-Aid throughout his life and he continues to see the world through the distorted lenses that she prescribed to him. He lives in my mother’s version of reality, a reality devoid of truth and decency, a reality full of lies and artificiality.

But that’s not an excuse for all of my brother’s actions. He’s had choices, yet he has continued to make the wrong ones time and time again. He’s chosen to be a follower instead of a leader. He’s chosen to be a user instead of a helper. He’s chosen to be a boy instead of a man. He’s chosen to be a husband instead of a son. He’s chosen to be greedy instead of fair. He’s chosen to hurt instead of heal.

My brother didn’t have to be that way. He made those choices on his own, and he will have to live with them. I no longer carry any guilt. I no longer feel sorry for him. I only feel sorry for the little girl who lost her brother. Her brother, the only person who was there with her through some of the pain, and the one person who should have understood more than anyone what they went through. That brother is gone, though I’m not sure he ever really existed.

I wanted my brother to be someone who I now know he will never be. I wanted him to choose good over evil. I wanted him to be better than what she wanted him to be. But that’s not who he is, and I can’t change that, just as I can’t change who my mother is, or who my father was. I can’t change any of them. I can only change me.

My brother and I share parents. We share the same last name. But that is where our similarities end. We are vastly different people, who have taken completely opposite paths. My brother chose complacency, and I chose rebellion.

My brother will always be the golden child, never doing wrong, always getting whatever he wants. But he will never realize that all of it comes with the cost of his freedom.

I will always be the black sheep, doing everything wrong, getting nothing I need. But that’s okay because I have my freedom, and that freedom hasn’t cost me anything I hadn’t lost already.

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My birthday, a name change, and various life events of the past few weeks

I took a short hiatus from blogging. There has been a lot going on in my life the last week or two and I just needed to refocus. Things should be returning to my normal soon.

I turned 30 last Sunday. I knew it was going to be a rough time for me, just being away from everyone (the good people, not my family). It was also the 10th anniversary of my friend’s death, which always brings up feelings for me.

Thirty was (is) a significant age for me. For years, I promised myself that if I hadn’t gotten out by the day I turned 30, I was going to end my life. I went through most of my late 20s waiting for that day. I had very little hope that my life would ever change; I just knew that 30 years was enough for me and that was going to be it.

But that’s not how turning 30 played out. I spent my 30th birthday as a free person. I may not have had a party or celebrated very much, but I was free. It was the best gift I could have ever gotten.

I did have a few small celebrations. I had a group therapy session two weeks prior to my birthday. During the break, the therapist walked in with a cake, candles lit and everything. I was completely surprised and overwhelmed with emotions. I got a beautiful card that everyone signed, and a butterfly nightlight (which is perfect). At one point, I had to hide my face in my hoodie because I started crying and didn’t want anyone to see me. I’m starting to cry now just writing about it.

For the first time ever, I blew out the candles on my birthday cake and made a wish that didn’t involve anyone’s death. In the years that I can remember, my wish was to die. I wished someone would kill me. A few times, I wished my mother would die; then I could be free. But I didn’t have to make those wishes anymore. I didn’t have to die.

The experience reinforced for me that I have support. Even though a good chunk of that support is coming from my therapists, it’s still support. It is the support that has allowed me to escape and to begin to heal. It is the support that brings me together with others who understand. It’s the support I need to glue my pieces back together.

I had to work on my birthday. That was okay with me, because I didn’t want to stay home and be miserable. My coworker bought in an ice cream cake. At 9 o’clock in the morning, our team gathered and sang happy birthday to me, and we all devoured the cake (with the excuse that ice cream is good for energy and increases work productivity, yes). This was my work family. People that I care for, and that care for me. It didn’t matter what happened the rest of the day.

As a gift to myself, and something I promised myself I would do during the new year, I decided to proceed with legally changing my name. A few people have been referring to me as Kyra for some time now, but I haven’t bothered explaining to most people why I want to change my name, so I let them use my birth name. I hate my birth name, though. I don’t think I should have to keep a name that was given to me by the very people that destroyed me. They don’t deserve that.

While I’ve been sure my first name will be Kyra, I’ve been back and forth about a middle and last name. For my last name, I wanted something with meaning, but not complicated either (my legal last name is a mouthful). I was open for suggestions, and received quite the array of responses. Finally, one suggestion sat well with me. It wasn’t too complicated of a name, and translated to courage, which is something I’d like to think I have.

For my middle name, I actually chose a name some time back, but didn’t tell anyone because I thought that people would be very judgmental about it. I “tried on” other middle names, but I didn’t like them the way I liked my original choice. Once I had figured out my last name, I decided to open up about the middle name I wanted – Jack. And everyone was supportive of it (at least to my face). I feel like it fits me.

I started filing the legal papers, but it’s time consuming and expensive, so the whole process will likely take months. For now, I am answering to any name someone happens to throw at me. I hope that once my name is changed legally, people will be receptive to calling me by my new legal name.

I’ve been a little overwhelmed with schoolwork. This week is Spring Break, so I am trying to catch up with the reading I am behind in. I also have a presentation due in two weeks, a paper due Sunday, a midterm due next week, and another paper due next week. Normally I use the weekends to get everything done, but these next few weeks are going to be hectic. This coming Sunday, I have to work from 6 AM to midnight, so there won’t be time for me to write my paper then (because I am definitely a procrastinator and do my best work in the hours before something is due). I really need to work on planning ahead.

I have a doctor’s appointment coming up next Monday. It has brought up a lot of anxiety. My therapist has been working with me the last few weeks in preparation, but I still feel scared about going. I don’t want to panic and shut down. I know I need to go, because my health is shit, but part of me just wants to avoid all the trouble, physically and mentally, that this whole ordeal is going to involve.

Perhaps it’s a good thing, but I’ve been asleep more than I’ve been awake. The other day I slept at least 16 hours within a 24-hour time span. It’s a welcome change in a way, since I had been suffering from insomnia so badly in the weeks before that I had slept just five hours over the course of three days. Maybe my body is finally catching up. Maybe I’m getting sick. Maybe my nutrition has gone to shit. Who knows. It’s probably better that I’ve slept through most of this past week, anyway. I just wish I could do my schoolwork in my sleep. Then I wouldn’t be so behind right now.

Oh yea, this past weekend marked 8 months of freedom.

Life is progressing a little too quickly for me.