I remember that feeling. From so, so long ago. One of my elder brothers could do that. In his quiet ways, I looked up to him. Almost anything he did was heroic. I was even willing to share the snack that he had half-chewed in his mouth. It was never sexual. It was just how little brothers are to safe, caring, older brothers.
Each time I read my new Brother's email, he reaches the little brother within.
The little brother who goes into hiding so that the angry part of me could come out to defend and attack if necessary.
The little brother who went into permanent hiding somewhere around 15 years old when that elder brother--the quiet hero--started to call me names. He was probably going through hard times himself. But to an adolescent boy starving from male-affirmation, those words etched deep wounds into an already scarred soul.
Will my new Brother do the same to me? Will he, too, reach into the scars and tear open wounds?
Will he be able to see that behind this angry, irrational, less-than-pleasant me is a little brother who is desperate for male-affection, and offer gentle grace instead of harsh rebuke?
Maybe if I let him know how soft I feel whenever I talk to him. Maybe if I let him know that each time I read his emails, I feel completely vulnerable inside, willing to accept the words he offers me, even if they are half-chewed and covered in spit.
Maybe if I tell him that whenever I read his messages, I am on the verge of tears. Like a little brother ready to cry on the shoulders of his big Brother.
Maybe then, he won't reach in and tear me apart.
I desperately need to let him in, but will he hurt me, like other men have hurt me?