Thursday, August 20, 2009

Adventure Day 29 Part 1 - #4 Go out for breakfast with Marshmallow

This was the day – finally!! I had eventually tracked down my brother for a breakfast date. This was no easy task as he is a truck driver that does long hauls across the country every week. He works five weeks then is off for one. He does get about a day and a half off between runs, but it’s then he usually sleeps, visits Mini and gets ready for another trek out. I was lucky to get him when I did.

I showed up to his place around 9am and he had just gotten home. He was dirty (I’m not sure why), tired and minding the heat. I wasn’t sure how this would go - oh well. He quickly relieved my fears and changed his shirt, it still had holes but covered more area. In minutes we were on our way out the door.

After deciding on a little all day breakfast place, we parked and soon found some seats. On the way he had inquired about some secretive stuff that was going on in our extended family. He was a bit upset that he seemed to be the only one who was ‘out of the loop’. Though I probably shouldn’t have, I filled him in – making him swear he’d never let on he knew anything. I felt it was information that he should hear from me and know. I also was aware that more and more people in our family were aware of it, so I took liberties (I bet the secret is killing you eh? It’s too much to share right now).

Our conversation grew around that topic, we had some deeper moments of discussions and some not so deep. But there was something pretty serious on my mind, something I’d wanted to share with him for a few years, something I wanted to know from him. However, as many of you know I’m sure, it’s not always easy to just blurt out certain things, especially if they are topics you avoid with your sibling. But I needed to try.

Now I feel as though I need to tell you first what I shared with Marshmallow before I tell you his reaction. Many of you may have a hard time reading this, even learning this about me, but I’m ok now and I know that often sharing things you have gone through with others helps those who are listening as much as it helps you to share, so I hope you will be ok with my honesty here.

When I was around 10 years old I was molested by a great uncle of mine (that adjective so does not fit in that sentence). I always feel like I have to specify that the molestation (I really hate that word – it’s so awful) was not the worst it could be – it really only included touching, but with that I realize that the symptoms of that happening to someone are the same whether it was just touching or a more intrusive type of violation. No matter how someone hurts you the effects are the same: often a withdrawn personality, feelings of unworthiness and dirtiness, negative attitudes, low self esteem and a feeling that it was your fault. I had all of those things. (By no means am I equating the two kinds, rather I am stressing the fact that either way if you don’t seek help you can end up really messed up).

Though I knew what had happened to me at the time I didn’t know what to do with the information. It occurred while my brother and I went over swimming at my uncle’s house one summer (we went almost everyday), my mom was usually with us reading a paper or a book. He would go swimming with us and would just play along. But there were times he would hang on to me and not let go – I would scream my head off and he just held on –not in the right places. Anyway (I’m so sorry if you don’t want to hear this – please feel free to skip this post), by the end of the summer I was tired of it and had a feeling what was going on wasn’t right. Both my mom and brother noticed my lack of willingness to go anymore. They had each actually come to me and asked if what he was doing was the reason I didn’t want to be there – they never asked specifically but there was an underlying question of his motivations.

I denied their suspicions right away and just said I didn’t want to go so I stopped. If it wasn’t for them asking me and one specific memory I have, I probably would’ve gone on in life without even remembering or knowing why feelings about myself and him had started to change. By the time I was in high school a mentor of mine finally came out and just asked me what was with my negative attitude and low self esteem. I was shocked she noticed and shocked with myself that I even knew what was wrong. I had buried my memories so deeply I had nearly forgotten about it. But when she pressed to know more it flooded out of me and I shared with her what happen. She listened and loved and directed me towards some great counseling.

It took a while but I can honestly say I am fine now. I mean I’m ok. My scars from that experience have healed, along with my heart and I feel all the more beautiful because of it. But one question still lingered in my mind…my brother, had anything ever happened to him. You see, he is a hard person on the outside but so soft and ready to melt on the inside. He had rough teen years in a lot of ways, he spent a lot of time with this uncle of ours, but through the years and by the time my uncle had finally passed Marshmallow had grown very bitter and angry with our uncle and I never knew why. I have to mention too that my brother carries around profound hurts that go unexplained to me, do I think it was reasonable for me to ask if perhaps he too was hurt by this man.

Though I was very nervous I was set on finding out the answers to my questions, but I didn’t know how to bring it up, that’s probably why I shared some of the stuff I shouldn’t have with him earlier – it gave me an in. After eating some of my food and allowing the conversation to trail here and there I eventually brought it up. I told him what happened, that I got help and was ok, but left my ponderings open for him to guess what I was getting at. Finally he said it. He said that nothing like that ever happened to him. I looked him in the eye and saw that he truly wasn’t lying. On one hand I was relieved, on another I was completely confused (as his personality and reaction to much of life had me figuring he too had been abused), and again on a different note I was a little sad. I know the last feeling sounds horrible, like I wanted him to feel the pain I felt, but that’s not it.

I was shocked that I was the ‘chosen one’, that I was the only one. I was banking on having shared this wound with him, but I was alone. When he told me he hadn’t been hurt I just stared at him as if to say ‘You are kidding right? Tell me you are lying. Tell I wasn’t the weak one he prayed upon. Please tell me.’ But he didn’t. He locked my eyes and said nothing ever happened. I so much wanted to cry. This seems weird to me, because I really am ok (seriously not in denial), I worked through so much and truly forgave my uncle – I never liked him but I did forgive him, for myself. (By no means am I telling anyone else who’s gone through it they have to do this, but I was able to and because of it felt freedom). It just surprised me that there was that little bit of an unresolved piece to my puzzle that I hadn’t dealt with – I couldn’t’ have dealt with until now.

I quickly let go of that part of the conversation and moved on to what my brother was discussing. We continued to share different experiences and talks he’d had with my one grandfather that meant so much to him. It was serious breakfast conversation, but good too. We chatted for quite a while and finally got the bill. He paid (this was very cool because for years and sometimes still now he’s not had a cent to his name) and took his little sister home. He must have enjoyed the time because from what I hear he called my parents up right after and told them we went out. Since becoming facebook friends we have communicated more than we ever have (there are good points to facebook). In one of the last e-mails I got from him he told me he loved me for the first time that I can remember – and now I’m crying, stupid sentimentalness.

We decided (or maybe I decided) that we would have to make the breakfast thing happen more often. I never thought I would have a close relationship with my brother but I think there is room for it to happen. The whole being vulnerable thing is so hard for both of us; we weren’t raised like that at all. I think if we keep things up though there’s hope that things will change.

If there’s anything I’ve learned in life though, don’t wait for comfort to break the mold, just go ahead, grab a hammer and do it yourself. There’s no time to wait.


Shell Bell said...

That must have been tough to type out and are a strong woman. It is scary and very sad how much these things happen :(

Eva said...

It was easy to write, harder to know that people will read it - but it's part of me. Thanks for the encouragement!

Joia said...

Wow, Eva, (you told me about this years ago),but I am so proud of you for taking this huge step and for putting yourself out there in that conversation with your brother - even though it didn't go as expected, I'm Sure he really appreciates that you were so honest and trusting with him. I'm so excited to hear how your relationship could benefit from regular "breakfast dates!"