Thursday, April 23, 2009

My Brother The Abuser -- New Reflections

My real life Elder-brother abused me, physically and emotionally.

When I was two or three, at my grandfather's funeral, he pushed me from the back for no reason, and I fell hurting myself.

He was in every single birthday portrait of mine since birth, because he insisted. I was not in any of his.

I could not sit next to him in the car because, God forbid, if the car should turn a corner and my leg or arm bumped into his, it would be reason enough for him to hit me.

He called me girlie, fat, ugly, useless pig. Usually it was a series of different adjectives strung together. And he would laugh--a mocking hackling laughter--and get others around to join in  mockery.

He was older, faster, stronger, and a lot better groomed than I was. When we had physical fights--at least one big one a week--I was usually more hurt than he was.

- - - 

I am trying to spend more time with aging Mother. I believe the Lord whispered in my heart that her time is short. Maybe another year or two.

At breakfast, we talked about her health. Pretty healthy all in, except for her mildly elevated cholesterol level. Then she told me that she had her uterus removed when my real life Younger-brother was born.

"I remember," I said, "you were on bed-rest after Younger-brother was born."  I remembered the green fold-up cot that she rested on for a while after the birth.

"Oh," she remarked, "that was the doing of Elder-brother," she smiled with a twinkle in her eyes.

"He would come home from school every day, asked if I needed to pee, put a pan beneath me--saw my vagina and all--then empty it, turn on the TV, and watched it for the rest of the afternoon."

"Did you ask him to do it?" I asked.

"No, it was all his own doing," she reminisced.

"I guess he must have been around..."

"Ten years old," she said.

Mother's eyes started to cloud over as memories of Elder-brother's death must have flooded her mind. Mother hardly ever cries. But after what she told me today, I am beginning to understand why the face of this even-keeled woman would still contort with sadness after six years of her son's death: He was a very special, caring boy.

- - - 

And so it turns out that my brother the abuser was also an amazingly loving son to his mother. At age 10, on his own volition and initiative, he physically cared for his ill mother in a way that is so atypical of boys.

So why was he so incredibly abusive to me? And what would my life have looked like today if he were caring to me in the same way he was to our mother?

At his funeral, Elder-sister-in-law shared with me that Elder-brother had told her that he was sorry for all the things he had done to me. I was only partially able to receive the "apology." However, today's talk with Mother opens up yet another space of forgiveness for Elder-brother.

For all the evil acts that Elder-brother had heaped on me as a child, I can now see him as a loving person. I don't know what happened in the family system to have caused him to scapegoat me. Maybe it was his jealousy over how close I was to Mother as a child; maybe it was his constant migranes and undiagnosed ADHD or Turrets; maybe it was his insecurity over how smart people said I was. Whatever it was, Elder-brother was a loving child, and if I had been the parent, I would have cared for him and loved him in such a way that he would never have been abusive towards his younger brother, me.

- - -

Dear Elder-brother,

I know that you did not understand what you were doing. I forgive you now. I forgive you fully. God has given me another Brother (Brother A) to provide for me the kind of love that you were not able to give me. I am in a good place now.

And I know, one day, we will meet again in Heaven, face-to-face. I am looking forward to that day. For now, I will watch over your children, as well as I can, and give them the kind of love that I am sure you would have wanted to give them.

I love you now. I really do. From the bottom of my heart.


  1. TC, thanks for sharing this. I can imagine this has been a very powerful experience for you.

  2. I think so. A lot of healing about that relationship had already been done last year. This was another piece that came up unanticipated.