Today’s Things They Can’t Say post comes from someone who really can’t say these things on her blog. Instead, Jennifer of Momma Made It Look Easy is sharing her heart here. Please welcome here.
I heard the crunch of gravel as the car pulled into the driveway. I darted out of the apartment door as fast as my legs would carry me. I didn’t even bother to put on a jacket, despite the fact that it was January and chilly outside. I stood, bouncing up and down, waiting until the car was turned off, and then I raced to the back door and yanked it open.
My mom was sitting in the back seat in her night gown looking very tired. I had not seen her for several days, but I hardly noticed her. My focus was on the bundle of blue blankets she held in her lap. Tucked deep inside was the sweetest baby face I had seen in all of my seven years. Before my mom could even get out of the car, I asked, “Can I hold him?”
She passed him to me, and I snuggled him and the blankets all into my chest. I breathed in his sweet baby scent, and held him tight so that I wouldn’t drop him as I walked back inside the apartment. I sat in the brand new rocking chair that had just been delivered a few weeks previous. As I slowly rocked him back and forth I soaked him in.
From that moment on he was my baby, or least that’s how I felt. My brother even bore the name that I had selected, Jason. Nothing could change the way I felt about him.
Fast forward almost exactly 33 years. My brother and I do not have the relationship that I had imagined we would have all those years ago. Do I love him? More than life itself. But the path he has taken has left me bitter and angry at the choices he’s made and the heartache he has left in his wake.
There are things that I don’t write about on my blog. My blog is not anonymous and I have many family members and friends that read it. I try to stay away from stories that are not wholly mine, but some of those stories affect me in way that gives me partial ownership. My brother has one of those stories.
I don’t understand how siblings can be so different. We were raised by the same set of parents… mostly. My parents divorced when he was still small, but the values that were taught to us were the same. If anything he had more positive role models in his life than I had in mine by way of our stepparents.
Jason had a rough time in school. He was diagnosed with ADHD in the 80’s before most people had ever heard of it. He was a bright kid, but he had trouble learning in the structured environment of public school. It didn’t help that he was “being raised” by a single mom in a small town where judgment was high and tolerance was low.
He struggled until high school, which was when he got involved with drugs and alcohol. I like to say that he was always attracted to the wrong crowd, but in reality we all make our own decisions and it wasn’t hard for kids to pressure him into doing the wrong thing. As a sophomore he asked my mom to let him drop out of school. The administrators at the school told her it was really the best decision because 1) he wasn’t going to pass anyway, and 2) he wasn’t staying when she did take him.
Instead of getting a GED and focusing on ways to make his life better he got more immersed in the life he was living. He rambled around living with friends and family member s that would take him in until they got tired of his behavior. He was in and out of trouble the whole time. Not a month went by without my mom calling me in tears because of something he had done, sometimes not a week.
Once he met his wife and they had a son we were hoping that he would settle down, but that hasn’t happened. Without an education (that he’s been encouraged to get and offered assistance more times than I can remember), he can’t find a good job. He has pretty much worked in every low paying and/or dangerous blue collar job you can think of, construction, rough neck on an oil rig, pipelining, helper in the plants, etc. None of them lasted long because his drinking would always get him into trouble.
The trouble doesn’t come around as often as at used to, but it seems like every Christmas without fail he gets into some kind of mess, either of his own doing or because he attracts it. This year about a week before Christmas my mother called me almost incoherent. He had gotten a DWI. Not his first. He was in jail and no one knew when he would be able to get out, and even if he could we knew that we couldn’t help him. There is a time when “help” doesn’t really help. A time when the hard thing is the right thing. Unfortunately that doesn’t make it not hurt.
I’m completely disgusted by his callous behavior. I’m angry that he continues to hurt the people that love him most. I’m heartbroken that someone I love so much cannot love the rest of us enough to just stop (even though I know it isn’t that easy). I’m frustrated at his stupidity (yes, it is STUPID to drink and drive). I’m exhausted by his lies and manipulations. But most of all I’m hurt. I just ache with the hurt for myself, my mother, his wife, and his two sons. And I’m hopeless because I know that there is nothing I can do to make this better, and I fear that he never will.
But all of those feelings are things I can’t say. So I bottle them up and wall them off and wait for the inevitable because I am the strong one. I am the big sister.
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