There were two good things I was able to really hang on to through last weekend – and I think they saved my life. I don’t know if I have ever mentioned this before, but I’m cursed with these deathly allergies. I am allergic to ibuprofen and chilies – both to the point where I ingest even the tiniest bit and I’m dead. These things are not hard to obtain. They’re probably in every household in North America. Both of them are in my house and easily accessible to me, daily. One slip of self control and I’m dead.
The two things I held on to were this. First, the new knowledge that what happened to me was not my fault. I made mistakes, and it doesn’t excuse them, but I can see why, when, and how those mistakes were made now. And I didn’t make them knowingly. And I would apologize to the aggrieved parties and own those mistakes, if given the chance.
The second thing was my husband. When I didn’t speak to him for an extended period of time, he told me “I didn’t sign up for a meek doormat of a wife. That is never what I wanted. I love your fiery spirit and sassy nature. I want to help, but I can’t help if you don’t let me in.”
I spent a lot of time after that talking with him, about how I was or wasn’t feeling. About being scared. About not knowing what was or what was coming. He is such a logical person and emotional sensitivity isn’t really his strong point but bless his heart, he was trying.
He was really great at noticing how severe things were for me – and he said some really affirming things like “no wonder you feel discombobulated – you’re taking everything you’ve ever known about your identity and trying to re shape it while not having people in your life who your identity was based on. That sounds scary as fuck.” So he was doing his best to understand and was really helpful in affirming a lot of things – he can also provide insight that I can’t sometimes… like when we talked about my Mom loving the needy kids at her school (she was a teacher) he was like “your mom has always needed to feel needed, and you were good and then shamed for being good but by the time you tried acting out your brother had already depleted their resources. Your life is literally a giant mixed message” and I thought that was very astute.
On Sunday I handed him the red light, the rock, AND the squishy truck – and he jumped into action. He took my phone (which was blowing up with messages from my brother) and hid it. He built me a blanket fort. He put on a movie and got me chips and salsa. He helped me do absolutely everything. He was amazing. It allowed me to gain some space and simply be safe. I am so in love with him. And I’m so grateful.
That night I decided I was done with being called selfish and being told that my brother emceeing was a consolation prize and he was bringing up the most random of situations from the past (apparently I once asked him to get his feet off my bed and leave the room… we didn’t have locks and I was suicidal at the time, he had barged in and I told him to fuck right off – and that is the moment he hinges our relationship on). And I told my husband this.
I said “we didn’t even think of him when planning”
And he said “well I didn’t, but you certainly did. You spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to avoid a meltdown. How to avoid, well, this.”
And it was then when it hit me. My brother is always going to shit on whatever I do. I realized that there is pain down every possible avenue I could choose. There is pain if I keep talking to my family, there is pain if I don’t. There is pain if I quit, there is pain if I move forward. There is unknown quantities of pain in every, single, direction. There is even pain if you stand still. It’s a surreal experience, overwhelming, knowing that no matter what choice you make, you’re about to put yourself through more hurt.
And it hit me then – no matter what decisions I make I will always let one of them down. So I might as well make the decisions that align best with myself – because at least then the incredible pain is worth it. I had honestly not been in more pain in my life.
I felt like I was severing a part of myself. And if I was going to choose a path to walk that was painful – I was going to choose the best path for me, dammit.
So I drafted a text to my brother with help from my husband. Fact based. Unemotional. I said:
“Believe it or not, we weren’t thinking about anybody but us when we planned our wedding. Our wedding. For us. It sucks you felt emceeing was a ‘consolation prize.’ The things we said about you in our speeches that evening were genuine – we didn’t plan the event around you or your feelings – and yet you make it sound like we were sitting there and plotting how most to hurt you. I stand by our choices – and if the choice we made is something that you can’t get over then that’s fine, but it’s been over two weeks, you’ve managed to make the day all about you, and I’m done hearing about it.”
I drafted it, and sat with it, and sent it Monday morning when I was still convinced it was the right thing.
Immediately after asserting myself, the grief fog lifted. I said what I said in a non malicious way that honoured my feelings. I am simply done with putting his feelings above my own boundaries.
I realized in that moment I felt I had a choice in everything that I did or decided – that I am not simply at the whim of my family. And my brother responded with the usual amount of grace (aka none) and I felt nothing. No animosity. No pain. Just this healthy empty part of myself. I felt like I had finally been able to say “this is how I feel – and that matters. This is the line you have to respect to be in my life. And now it’s up to you.”
I took something back for myself on Monday, and it only grew in power from there.
To be continued…