Original post 3/2014
Everyone suffers in an abusive environment. Our house was always in chaos. An alcoholic stepfather who abused my mother and a mother who abused her daughter. There were three other children in the house who saw the abuse, heard the screams and threats. I used to think the victim was the only person with scars. At 9 years old I survived almost daily beatings by taking drugs, plenty of alcohol and trying to kill myself. It never occurred to me my brother suffered from witnessing the abuse. My brother’s scars are from seeing our stepfather beat our mother. Dragging her down the hall beating her head from side to side. Putting a knife to her throat saying he would kill her. Most of their fights ending in front of our bedrooms. We had front row seats to hell. My mother abused me, the methods escalated as I aged. I heard stories of abuse as early as six months old. I don’t think my mother was trying to kill me. She’s like the women on the news who allow their kids to die. She didn’t push my head under the water but would have crocodile tears if I drowned accidentally.
One weekend driving back from Houston we passed the exit to my mother’s house. I had strong emotions about my brother not me. I didn’t understand the emotions. It hit me like a train, my brother was not physically abused yet was still a victim of abuse. He heard his sister scream and cry while his mother threw me to the floor, hit my head on the countertop or down the hallway walls. He saw my stepfather hit me in mouth with his fist. He saw my stepfather threaten to kill my mother while holding a knife to her throat. The realization was an eye opener, I had overwhelming guilt. My brother and I never talked about it. The pain was swept under the rug. I didn’t know how he felt about the violence he saw. Neither of us knew how the violence would manifest itself in our souls. We had no idea how it would affect decisions we made as adults.
My brother holds almost all emotions inside, it doesn’t even show on his face. I don’t think he realizes how the violence shaped him as a man. He has a good relationship with my mother yet he lives with the knowledge of what his mother did and allowed. I went to live with my father at 12 years old which meant I only saw my brother a couple of times of year. On my fathers designated holidays we went to my grandparents. We drifted apart from only seeing each other a couple of times a year. After college he moved to Arlington we were both alcoholics by then. Our meetings were at drunken parties at his apartment. We quit calling each other. It took the death of my father to bring us back together. It is the only positive from my father’s death.
I developed a strong relationship with his fiancé. We talked like old girlfriends. She was at my house one night enjoying wine and chatting. I had no control over my mouth, it spilled out. I asked her if he acknowledged my abuse. She shared how much it effected him, the guilt he carries. A missing piece of the puzzle filled my heart. I thought I was invisible. We are very close, talk or e-mail very often. We live only 30 minutes apart but his travel schedule doesn’t allow much time together. A perfect example, their Christmas present are still in the closet. The difference is when we are together it’s like no time has passed. It has been very touching to get e-mails from him as I deal with my health issues. His tone is of true concern. There was a time when I didn’t think this day would come. I’m so happy. I love my brother. I love him enough to attend his wedding even though I would have to see my mother. I did not want to look back knowing I missed his wedding. I realized another level of love and what you will do for love.