I was startled by a knock on my door this morning. An insistent knock, the kind that belongs to someone you know...I was kinda right. I could see the shadow through the windows around my front door, it didn’t seem to be a delivery, I opened the door... On my front porch stood my brother, it took me a second to realize that “Josh? I didn’t recognize you.” He smirked “Because I‘m fat. Can I come in?” He tried to walk in but I blocked him as I walked onto the porch and shut the door behind me.
Trauma comes in all shapes and sizes, a tiny insult can become a festering wound years later, I believe many diseases including my own are seeded by trauma. Here I stood on my porch facing my unstable brother who immediately started pacing and rambling about God and how he needed me to drive him to California so he could introduce me to Him. I told my brother that I had cancer and he laughed at that, told me that I was healed. I asked him to keep his distance, asked him to sit down on my porch swing, away from me. He was agitated and wouldn’t sit or stand still, he spoke of a story regarding a stillborn brother, a sick fantasy that I know for a fact did not happen, his hands going into the pockets of his hoodie, I was worried about a knife, I had been concerned for years that he was going to kill our mother, since lung cancer took her out of the equation now I was worried that he was going to kill me.
You would be correct if you figured that I got out of that situation. This is not one of those stories where the hero writes from the beyond. I convinced my brother to take his bike and walk off of my porch and I took that advantage of space to run into my house and lock the door. The big sister, the coward. It is all so sad to me and I am burdened with guilt that I couldn’t help him when he was a troubled young kid or as the broken, mentally ill man/boy he is now.
My mom had 5 children, I was the oldest. My siblings were all born between my 11th and 16th birthdays. The 18 year marriage between my mom and stepdad was not healthy and the parenting was not any better. When they were together there was a lot of yelling and ugliness. Then later there was the discovery of other abuses. My mom dove into a pretty intense alcoholism and the parental weight landed heavily on my shoulders. This job I failed at. My brother on my front porch was a glaring reminder of this fact, scraping those old wounds open a little bit... “Failure, you are a coward, you deserve to die, he is your brother, your family...” Awful words in the back of my mind that were trying to claw me to death, I imagine my tumors chuckling at this.
I have had to do a lot of work over the years, letting go of anger and disappointment in me and those that should have protected me. The hardest part was forgiving myself and as my brother paced in front of me, I was once again reminded of my failure to protect him, I really tried. When my mom got clean, she tried too but it didn’t work, even though they say it is never too late, it was. The bright potential of what could have been was doused out by angst and drugs, my brother was lost into the system.
The message “Family is family, you do whatever for your family.” can be an anvil flying off of a cliff if that family is damaged in the way that mine was. It was a brick around my neck, an expectation that my mom put into me and about me to my siblings. In the stories nothing really works out for the martyr, I mean sure, it’s cool to be a saint and have people pray to you but is it worth the travails and horribly painful deaths?
Shortly before my 40th birthday I decided that I was going to choose to not put out family fires anymore, mostly, I wasn’t going to deal with the drama that permeated my moms’ day to day or whatever went on between her and my siblings and their children, I chose myself for once and I tried not to look back too much.
It‘s funny, as I write this I feel an invisible hand trying to silence me, a claw on my throat, secrets are meant to stay buried... “Shut up coward, see what you did?”
My point I guess, besides really wallowing in the muck of dramatic despair and sharing my experience in dysfunctional familial strife, is that experience, especially energetically wounding experiences, can contribute to human maladies, even and in my opinion, especially cancer. Therefore I think it is important to work on these issues so that they may not fester, get them early before you hit a deficit would be my advice.
Until next time❤️