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What I Wish I Could Tell My Brother About Our Abusive Childhood

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Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

If you’ve experienced sexual abuse or emotional abuse, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact The National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673, or the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

I’m sorry for what I’ve done. I’m sorry for how it affected you. I’m sorry for putting you through that and I’m sorry that, at the time, I didn’t even realize what it was I was putting you through.

• What is PTSD?

I wish I could go back in time and make everything OK. I wish I had never tried to end my life. I wish you hadn’t been the one who was tasked with saving me.

I wish a lot of things, actually. I wish we didn’t grow up dealing with everything we did. I wish you would have had a good dad growing up, just like I wish that for me. I wish my dad wouldn’t have hurt you the way he hurt… everyone.

I’m sorry for the things you saw, the things you must have learned at such a young age. I always thought you were invincible — the coolest, strongest guy around. I was proud to tell people you were my brother. It never occurred to me the trauma you must have been through. Never occurred to me until I had to face my own trauma head-on.

My childhood was a melting pot of dysfunction, trauma and demons, with the occasional good memory sprinkled in.

Remembering the yelling and the dirty looks always gets me the worst, makes me feel small. Remembering Mom’s hands gripping the back of my head and swinging me around by my hair pales in comparison. I don’t know if you remember any of this so that’s why I’m detailing it for you.

I always felt bad that I couldn’t act “normal.” Everyone was always mad with me, exhausted because of me. Everyone wished I could be normal, but hardly anyone knew why I acted the way I did. I didn’t know for the longest time.

So, this is the explanation. Trauma.

And I want to let you know how sorry I am that I couldn’t be a good sister to you. You deserved so much better. And I want to tell you I understand why you don’t want to talk with me, why you keep your emotions bottled up, why you’re so close to her, instead. I understand and I’m not upset.

I understand that seeing me might be hard for you. It’s hard for me sometimes. But I want to let you know I’m thriving.

I still get mixed up inside, sometimes. I wonder if you do, too. Who wouldn’t after everything we’ve gone through in our childhoods?

Sometimes, I can still hear the harsh whispers of men at night, their hot breaths beating heavily against the back of my neck. Can still feel their sweaty hands against my body, touching me in places I didn’t even know existed, as I lay terrified in wait, unable to move. Not a muscle. Not an inch.

Of course, you don’t know any of this. That’s my secret, alone, to keep. And of course, I’ll never send this letter. But I wonder… would it make a difference if you did know? So many times, I’ve thought about telling. So many times, I’ve thought about being honest. But in the end, I see only pain. Pain for those around me. And I’m not willing to hurt any more people.

Photo by Tess Emily Seymour from Pexels

Originally published: February 8, 2019
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