Skip to main content

The Deception of Guilt

My Brother is Dying...

My brother is dying, well, he may be dying. Truth is my brother has been dying since he was in elementary school. Yes, I am aware we are all getting closer to our demise day by day, but his life never had the season of spring. He has always appeared to be dying. I don't think it has been intentional. I am unaware of what event or events ignited his journey down such a dark and tumultuous path. As a child six years younger than he, I was mostly in a place to watch with clueless wonder. I was not to judge or have ill thoughts toward him as I was repeatedly reminded he was my brother! Of course I loved him. Funny, I would have to keep my thoughts to myself, believing that if he wasn't my brother he wouldn't still be seated at the family table... At a fairly early age, I had made the self-interested decision he was not welcome at mine -- yet he was always there demanding some sort of attention from everyone, including me. Where did that demand come from...? FAMILY. Blood is thicker than water...blah blah blah.

"Don't you know he is sorry for all the things he has done?" Nooo, I don't know this, actually. He has never uttered those words to me. By the way, do you even know what he has done? I mean, to me? I mean, on several occasions? Things that would affect my life and relationships forevermore. Nonetheless, I have forgiven him and moved on, over and over -- but my damn sleeve keeps catching on the door, jerking me back for some reason. I have forgiven him but I am coming to the realization I have not forgiven them. The additional ripple affects of pebbles barely noticed after the tsunami of the boulder. The initial event had sequels in which the only character who seems to remember The Act I is me. I conspire with myself; perhaps I am the only one who knows its relevance to the rest of the acts in this play.

He reasoned it was wasn't. You know how I know this? He showed me a picture of a naked woman with pubic hair. I thought she might be a freak of nature because not only did I not have pubic hair, I was completely unaware it existed. I began to notice all of the women in the pictures had pubic hair. The men did...and so did he. These were not pictures in a book typical for a nine year old little girl. This was not Pipi Longstocking, whom I loved! No, these were women, grown women, naked women playing with naked men. Was I supposed to do this when I grew up? Was I supposed to be doing this now? I didn't ask. It seemed obvious that I wasn't to question, so not one word did I utter. Not even to him. Mercifully, I found a way to go to a place in my head where I could pretend I was not there, where he wasn't doing what he was doing -- all the while knowing I was.

He reasoned it was mutual. It. Wasn't. You know how I know this he thought it was mutual? He showed me what he had between his legs which was very different from what I had.

I... WAIT! STOP! Here is where I don't really know how much I should say! Would it be more real if everyone knew exactly what happened!? Would it make a difference to know what he asked me to do and what he did to me? It makes a difference to me, I think. Yet, there he is at the dinner table -- part of the family -- getting Christmas presents my family clearly thought he deserved

I have often wondered how different things would have been if he had been a stranger. If my father had walked into the room and he wasn't family. If my Dad had seen my flowered panties around my ankles, the pink bow on my tank top undershirt the only innocence left. Would my story's ending have been different? I believe it would have been different. VERY different. Imagine if it had not been "my brother". I would have had no doubt it was wrong...very very wrong. I would not have lived most of my life believing I was also guilty of wrongdoing. Oh I know it, but do I really know it?

Now, as I look to the inevitable event of his death brought on by a lifestyle of self harming activities and perhaps some mental incapacitates, I am snagged by the door once again. Perhaps he could have sought help to prevent this outcome. He didn't; maybe he couldn't. He did the best he could within his ability. So, is my guilt a deception? What am I to do now? Reach out because he is blood? Because he's my brother? I wish him no harm.

So brother, I have forgiven you. I am sorry you have endured such a tortuous life when there has been so much abundance around you. I will live with the dents of those horrible events. I will continue to endure the collateral damage caused by my responses to that harm, as well as the responses of those around me who could have taken better care. I will experience guilt whether it is deceptive or not, always wondering about some things and always being sure about others.

And loving myself just the same.