Recently a commenter on Emerging From Broken shared a story about how she took her brother to court for an incident of physical abuse which took place only a year ago. I was taken aback by the fearlessness of how she stood up for herself in the face of a so recently violent sibling. It helped me connect with and do a double take on the fears lingering in my lower consciousness concerning my own older brother. Over the past months I’ve often imagined him showing up here and trying to kill me if I confronted he and our parents for sexually abusing me. This fear is very valid coming from my childhood perspective, as my brother did threaten to kill me many times back then, and in the face of his extreme rages and violence, I definitely believed the threat.
However, looking back I recall now that he never touched me after I turned 15. Though he continued to call me ” little…” once I came to equal his height, he never tried to assault me again. Perhaps it was another part of the pedophilic reasoning in our family–only prepubescent children were considered worthy targets. I also remember that before my breakdown at 19, when I had that precious year of clarity and confidence that was so painfully shattered into pieces, I did stand up to his emotional abuse and disrespect many times. There were heated arguments, filled with screaming and swearing, but he didn’t even try to respond physically, regardless of what I said to him. Once, I was fearless too; though we weren’t arguing about what he did to me in the past, I didn’t restrain my cumulative feelings against him at that point. He obviously found me threatening, because he became paranoid that I was trying to get back at him through various petty means when in fact I preferred to ignore his presence as much as possible.
After my breakdown, I experienced some level of regression, I lost my sense of self and I had nothing but my eating disorder. I no longer quarreled with him after that. I see now that the vulnerability that I felt as a result of my breakdown and beginning my recovery process threw something off inside me. Since then I’ve been viewing too much of his present self through the lens I had back during the time when he wielded total power over my life and body in those years of abuse. I know that today he is not powerful. A simple google search shows that within the past year he was arrested for dealing drugs. His mugshot shows a pathetic sight, especially for someone who called me “fat” so many thousands of times in our childhood. He does not deserve this fear I’ve been giving him.
When I received those messages/friend requests from ex-family members, I looked at my mother’s facebook page. On it, she mentioned that they had sold the family home and moved far away. Hearing this made me feel so relieved; knowing that my parents aren’t living in that house where all of the abuse took place takes away a great deal of their mythological threat, and solidifies the fact that it is over. Today if I confront them or they try to contact me in some way, I don’t have to imagine them as launching an attack from their throne of incest, where so many of my nightmares over the years have taken me back to. Years ago I used to imagine that they could try to blackmail, or use legal means to drag me to that house and make me live with them again; an irrational fear now translated into the even more impossible.
The place where my ex-parents and brother have tucked themselves away is many thousands of miles away from me. Their finances, criminal records, and practical lack of knowledge of my area make my frightened fantasies of any of them showing up here extremely unlikely. It also helps to remember that these people are not attacking me through time travel from my childhood. As much as I have these memories and associations, and as guilty, as criminal as they are, time has shifted them away from the position they once held over me. And though my time has changed as well, connecting with that person I once was at 18, who didn’t hold back and intimidated my brother because he could see I wasn’t afraid him; connecting with his reality gives me strength to move forward today without basing my decision on unfounded fear.
Having that breakdown caused a severe identity crisis that has often come back to haunt me in the years since. I used to wonder what would be different if it had never happened, if I didn’t lose years to my eating disorder and dissociation, if I continued to build my confidence and self-esteem and remained stable? But today I see that I don’t really feel so alienated and remote from that time, and I do still have a great deal of potential. Perhaps the PTSD is wearing off.
Today I’m able more and more to bring out the voice of the child inside me. To listen and understand and negotiate what my truth is today and what I’m going to do. Just letting the stream of thoughts flow on and accepting everything as myself without viewing anything as contradictory just doesn’t work very well for me anymore, which is good. Now I can stop the circle of thought at the right time and pull things out to put them under a new light, and in that I can see my true self better.