Wednesday, January 30, 2008

T Homework

I had a pretty uneventful session with my T on Saturday. It was a phone session since DD was sick. I've not really had any major revelations going on. I mentioned to her that I emailed my XBF on his birthday and I was glad I did. I felt it was something I needed to do though I suspected it was really a step toward closure with my father. By the way, an update, he did write back to me on Sunday. A very generic reply that did not invite further correspondence, which is fine. That's as it should be. I have to confess that I was silently hoping for a seamless "in" to mention that my DD still asks for him all the time. I want him to feel guilt for abandoning her. I want him to know she still hurts. Oh YEAH....this is so all about my own father!!

So T suggested that I should write out how I've addressed "things", ie:abuse issues, with my father and my brother, chronologically. The purpose of this exercise is to find out what was said/done, what was not said/done and what needs to be said/done in order to achieve completion.

Let's start with my brother, because I think that's easier:
(As I stare blankly at the screen thinking "Crap, did I just say this one would be easier?")
Hmmmm....well let me just start typing and see what comes.
(1983-ish)There was the time on the stairs which stands out as the most direct confrontation between us. I don't remember what I said. I remember he discounted it by responding that "we were just a couple of horny kids".
(1985-ish) Not exactly addressing it with him but this is when I told what he did. Just so happened I chose to tell his girlfriend.
(1991-ish)I remember the time he was in the kitchen, I believe with his wife, and he was picking on me and I put my finger up in his face and said assertively "You do NOT get to speak to me like that ever again."
(2002-ish) I had to write a letter to him (the kind you don't send) for my group therapy. I remember feeling totally uncomfortable and unprepared for such an exercise. In fact, I'm fairly sure I "masked" my way through it by writing what I thought I was supposed to write since I was not at all connected to any real feelings on the subject.
(May, 2004) I remember when I told them I was pregnant in a card and he called me to congratulate. I did not call back. I eventually wrote him back a letter and said that I could not pretend that we were a normal brother/sister and that nothing had ever happened in our past. He sent me back a patronizing card with a girl on a shrink's couch that said something like "the good thing about having you for family is that I have plenty to talk about in therapy" or something along those lines. I don't recall what he said exactly but he indicated he was willing to discuss the past. It was the way he said it though, very sarcastic and dismissive. No surprise.

So, what has been said? Nothing, really. It seems like nothing direct and worthwhile has been said. Well, let's think again actually.
Said by me:
1. You will no longer speak to me disrespectfully
2. I can't pretend that nothing happened between us
Said by him:
1. We were a couple of horny kids which translates to "I don't take responsibility for anything that went on."
2. (basically) I'll pretend to be the "good guy" by telling you we can talk about it but I'll make sure I do it in such a way that you know it will be pointless.

What hasn't been said? I've never flat out told him he abused me. Because I didn't believe it until recently. Even now, when I say it, I still feel twinges of all the extenuating circumstances. If I could have my questions answered, without having to talk to him or anyone, what would I want to know about him?
What drove you to abuse me? What purpose did it serve for you? Did anyone abuse you? If so, who? When? How? Does anyone else know? Did you ever confront that person? How do you feel now about what occurred between us? Did you ever seek counseling and, if so, where do you think you stand with this issue? Have you abused anyone else? How do you think what happened may have changed you as a person? Do you feel guilt?

Do you know that my brother used to sign all his cards to me "Hatred, Gregory" Yes, the "hatred" part is pretty bad but what is more disturbing? His name is not Gregory. It was like an alter personality, like a character, to him who he could interject into all these bad situations as a means for not taking responsibility for his own feelings &/or actions.

What do I want from my brother? I want him to go away. I don't want anything from him. I've been thinking about that statement since this afternoon and I'm just not sure if the fact that I would really be perfectly happy to never speak to my father or brother again, even if they had some big life change and were suddenly accountable for everything they did, means anything about my inability or unwillingness to face the situation? Or does it just say that too much has happened, too much time passed, too much hurt sustained and there is just no changing that now? Or does it say that I'm too scared to let go of the status quo? To free myself from this stranglehold?

If he felt remorse and tried to make amends, would I allow it? I don't know. The thought of having a relationship with him sickens me. I guess I don't believe he is capable of any more that who he is right now. Maybe it's almost comforting for me to believe that because then *I* am the strong one who overcomes the obstacles and he's the pathetic one wallowing in his guilt, the victim of self-induced karma.

I would like to have *A* brother. Just not the one I have. I don't like him. I'm not sure I ever could or would. I can ditto that whole statement about my father. I want *A* father. Just not the one I have. I don't like him....I don't trust him. I don't respect him and I'm damn sure pissed off at him for his cowardly choices.

Okay....what has been said to my father?
(1985-ish) Same incident when I told my brother's girlfriend and then she told my brother who told my father what I'd "claimed" and naturally said it was all lies. And then the famous conversation ensued. My favorite one when I was forced to admit I was lying, made it all up for attention and had to apologize to my brother.

The rest is really a blur. I've found many journal entries, half written letters. I know I sent some of them. I know there were times I told him I longed to be closer, to have a real family. I know I tried to speak for my mother and brother in some of the letters. I know I told him I was addressing issues that had been part of the family history. The last one I wrote was in 2000, I believe, where I basically told him how his abuse shaped me, my lack of self worth. He responded in anger and bitter, bitter sarcasm. He's a very tit for tat kind of man....calculated. He would always reply in exactly the same manner I initiated correspondence with. I send a card; he sends a card. I send a typed letter with no signature; he sends a typed letter with no signature. I send a handwritten note on legal paper; he sends a handwritten note on legal paper. It's really more than a little disturbing.

I guess, as far as hashing through the issues of the past, I feel I've said all I can say to my father. He has not and really is not capable of ever responding in a way that is meaningful to me in achieving my closure. What has not been said by me is "I forgive you." It pains me to even think of saying that to him. But I guess in the same way I've come to realize with my mother.....he did what he was capable of. He is a broken, deeply depressed and damaged man. He was so ill prepared for fatherhood. At what point do I stop trying to punish him (which really only punishes ME) for what he didn't do? At what point do I release it for my own sanity and "forgive" him because there is nothing left to do and say? How long will I beat myself up because I could not turn him into the father I needed? What do I gain by holding this pain so tightly to my heart?


Marj aka Thriver said...

I can really relate to what you're going through here with family relationships. I hope you see the huge contrast in what you said vs. what your brother and father have said. Your statements show growth, assertiveness, healthy boundaries, etc. etc.

What I had to do with my brother and my mother (my father is a moot point as he has been homeless for decades and I'm not even sure he's still alive) is I had to finally realize that, unless they got LOADS of therapy (like me! ;P) they were never going to change their denial, dishonesty, manipulation, disrespecting my boundaries, etc. Then, I had to ask myself, "Do I even WANT a relationship like that?' I had to answer, "NO!" I let both of them go.

I sure can't tell you what to do. But, I know how hard it is and I'm thinking of you.

April_optimist said...

I ended up walking away from my brothers and my father--in part because they would never acknowledge the abuse. Much sympathy that you have this to deal with.