Big Brother

Big Brother

I had three brothers.

One was much older than me and when I was growing up he was rarely around. I thought he was cool. He was a drummer, then an actor. He moved to NYC and I watched him on TV commercials, soap operas and even in a few movies. Our lives were polar opposites. He was the oldest boy and I was the youngest girl. He was graduating high school and entering adulthood when I was graduating from kindergarten.

In a way, we were virtual strangers because of our age difference. But we also had a few things in common. While everyone else had dark brown eyes and hair, our eyes were more green and our hair more auburn. We also shared similar tastes in music and a passion for theater and the arts. And finally, we shared the disdain of our mother who was more openly antagonistic towards us than our siblings.

The second brother was closest to me in age, being just over two years older. He made a daily practice of bullying me verbally and physically. He’d pin me down and punch me in the stomach repeatedly until I couldn’t breathe. If I cried, mom would tell me to shut up and my brother would say “we’re just playing!” The only weapon I had was my teeth, so I’d bite him to get him off me. And mom would shove a bar of soap in my mouth and hold my mouth closed. This brother would defend me from the neighborhood bullies and then say “You’re MY punching bag”.

My third brother was three years younger than me. He was the golden child, easygoing and adorable. Everyone loved him, including me. I dressed him, played with him and took care of him like he was my very own baby. We shared interests and friends growing up and we never fought. He was my best friend for most of my life.

Then the unthinkable happened and I discovered my brothers’ true characters. When my ex-husband tried to murder me, my oldest brother acted as my liaison with law enforcement which pissed off my ex-husband and his family. He stuck by my side even when the victim-blaming began which caused friction between him and the rest of my family.

When my ex-husband launched a smear campaign that resulted in absolute rejection by my children, my oldest brother refused to let me suffer alone. While the rest of my family celebrated the wedding that I was banned from, he came to sit with me so I wouldn’t be alone. He listened to me, held me in his arms while I cried and even cried with me.

When I acted out on social media and displayed my hysterical mental state in all its ugliness, my big brother remained in touch to make sure I was okay. While he shared his opinion about my activities, he never once condemned me. My two other brothers told me I was depraved and said they didn’t want to see me again.

My oldest brother remained in contact with the detective on my case. He accompanied me to court. He and his wife went to the domestic violence center and sat in on a session with my therapist. He called me when he knew I was suicidal. He never gave up on me when I shut him out because I was full of grief and anger and despair.

My other brothers backed my ex-husband in court when he was negotiating a plea bargain and they visited him when he needed moral support. They also slut-shamed me when they didn’t have all the facts. My number one brother didn’t have all the facts either, but he believed in me and his support was unconditional.

I wrote a blog called Amnesiac Shadows which is about the day I left Boston to begin my new life in Seattle. I sent a copy to my big brother because he is a main character in my story.

He replied “Isn’t it cathartic when we capture through art, writing or music, our deepest and most personal experiences, first for ourselves, to better comprehend important events in our lives, and then to share, so others may see and understand more deeply. I still regret that I was unable to grasp your situation earlier and provide more help. However, I am eternally grateful to you for providing me with the chance to act, finally, as a brother should.  Your ability to literally rise from the ashes has been and continues to be, most inspiring. You are amazing.”

I love my big brother. He took a lot of shit from my family for supporting me, but he never wavered. And ironically, he apologized to me for not doing enough. He never hurt me, but he was sorry because he thought he didn’t help me as much as he could have. I admire and respect my brother. And I know my dad would have been proud of the way he cared for me when no one else would.


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