Sunday, April 29, 2007

Very long, very serious subject matter post ahead.

I have two younger brothers. All my life, I've been the good one: the one who got good grades, who didn't get in trouble, who stayed in school, who stayed off drugs, who was generally okay. My brothers, not so much. They both became parents at the age of sixteen, dropped out of school, got into drugs, stole cars, broke into houses, went in and out of jail... you get the picture. I had given up on the both of them really, but in the last few years the older of the two really started to get his act together. He got his GED, got off drugs, joined an apprenticeship program and got a good job, got married, had some kids. I never thought it would happen, but I'm proud of him that he realized what he was doing to himself and tried to do something about it.

Well, this brother called me on Friday. He rarely calls, unless there is a reason. Turns out, the reason was that at age 27, he had a heart attack.

I feel something in my chest tighten as I write those words. It's a scary, scary thing. My grandfather had a bad heart; it's ultimately what killed him. My brother told me that they ran tests on him in the hospital and concluded that for the most part, he did have a very healthy heart. The only reason he had a heart attack was stress. That's the other scary thing.

He said that his wife is leaving him, out of the country for reasons beyond her control, and she has decided that it is her mission in life to see him back in jail so that he won't be able to have custody of their kids when she has to go. She's making his life hell.

Add to that he is managing a restaurant in a hotel (funny how we both ended up in hotels) and he can't get any employees in the podunk hole of a town he lives in, so he is covering every shift. He said he had worked every day for the last three months before the attack, and most days were over 12 hours. It's crazy.

I've posted here about my anxiety disorders before. I've been diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. The last one, I actually laughed when the first doctor told me that. I was like, isn't that what the guys who come back from war have? She said yeah. I said well, I've never been to war. She said my childhood sounded like pretty near the equivalent.

My brother said, without me volunteering that information, pretty much that he had been diagnosed with the same things. (No OCD for him though.) He said that the therapist said the PTSS was not only from his childhood, but mainly from the fact that he was molested by my first stepfather.

Now, don't get me wrong, for this to happen to anyone is a terrible thing. My problem is that this boy has blamed EVERYTHING on this for his entire life practically! It's his excuse for everything, and I think it's bullshit. I can't say that to him though, because I know that the answer will be that I couldn't possibly understand, because he didn't do it to ME.

Well buddy, what do you think kept him busy while he and our mother were dating and in the first year and a half of their marriage?

He told me that my mom knew. He told me that she said it was okay. He told me that if I had only been older, that he would have married me instead. He told me that he loved me. I knew it was all lies. I knew it was wrong. I knew that I should have told someone, anyone, and made it stop.

I also knew that everytime one of my mother's relationships ended, it was us kids who were to blame. It was always, you damn kids, I can't keep a man because of you damn kids.

This time, it wouldn't be US damn kids, it would be ME. This was the first guy since my father who wanted to be with her forever, and it would end because of me. As the marriage progressed, of course, it became pretty obvious even to us kids that it wasn't going to be forever, but by then it was too late. I had waited too long, and if I spoke up now, it would call into question why I hadn't spoken up before. I knew she wouldn't buy the truth, she would think that I must have liked it some how, or that I let him out of spite for her, or some other reason. Either way, I was screwed. I was more afraid of my mother's wrath than I was of him.

I was ten years old.

So, I kept quiet. I fought him every time, every chance, but I was small for my age and he was stronger. Then, one day, it stopped as suddenly as it started. My mom was out running errands and we were playing outside. She had this thing where she didn't want us to go in or out all day, so she would lock us outside the apartment all day. We could knock if we had to go to the bathroom, but if you were thirsty there was the hose. I had to go, so I knocked on the door and he let me inside. I went and did what I had to do, but when I came out and tried to go back outside, he was standing in front of the door.

I've been afraid in my life, and that is one of the times I was most afraid. I still remember that fear, almost twenty years later. I was eleven years old, and I was sure that he was done waiting at that point and that was going to be the day that he raped me. I cried harder than I had ever cried, and I was terrified. I was shaking. I don't know if it was the crying, or me screaming (he held his hand over my mouth, but I bet if someone had walked by, they may have been able to hear), or what that made him stop, but he did and he shoved me out the front door and locked it. I couldn't do anything, I just sat on the step and cried. I just hugged my knees and cried when the other kids asked what was wrong, I just cried when my mom came home and kicked me and told me to knock it off, but didn't ever ask what was wrong or why I was crying, I cried while I made dinner for everyone and he mocked me for being a crybaby in front of all of them, I cried as I had to clean up afterwards, I cried when I went to bed and I cried myself to sleep. I cried literally for hours, because I was afraid, and because I knew that I had been very, very lucky.

He never did it again. Not to me anyway. I stayed afraid anyway, always wondering if he'd try again. Maybe a month or two later, my mother left him for good.

I found out more than ten years afterwards that he didn't go very long without prey. My brother was the next target, but he did the right thing and told my mom. By that time, the marriage was so over she would use any excuse to get out, and get out she did. Lucky him. To this day, I've never told my mother, or anyone else in my family. I've been tempted though, when they start with the "oh poor him, it's not his fault, that man did that to him" routine. But I never said a word.

So yeah, I know. And I still turned out mostly okay, I not only graduated, I went to college, I never stole a car or broke into a stranger's home to steal their belongings, I never went to jail, and I didn't become a teenage pregnancy statistic.

But I'm scared, because I know that my body reacts physically to stress. I’ve had rashes, skipped periods, gotten migraines, had stomachaches. If he can have a heart attack due to just plain stress, and no other factors, what’s to say that won’t happen to me? The genetic history, both for the anxiety disorders and the heart problems are all there. I can feel myself slipping into that numb “Now what? What’s the point? Nothing I do matters” mode, and that’s scary too.

How does one deal with this crap?


Anonymous wendy said...

Sara, I have no words... I wanted to send you hugs. Hang in there girlie.

3:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You deal with it by knowing that there are people in your life who believe that you matter and that you are worthwhile. I believe you have so much to offer.

3:36 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

I'm so sorry, I don't even know what to say about your post. Despite it, you seem so strong and your beauty comes out in your work!!!! Hang in there.

8:17 PM  

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