What an exhausting weekend! I wish it was in the “ohmyglob I partied all weekend” sort of way, but it’s not. I’m physically and emotionally spent and it’s Monday and work is nuts, too. Saturday was spent with my favorite boy and a stop at Torrid along with getting to see The Gran Budapest Hotel (awesome Wes Anderson movie). Sunday was an emotional mess for me. I started out that way and it only got worse for the most part.
We took the pugs to the dog park (#PugLife) and it was super fun, but I knew what was ahead and I had a hard time being present when all I wanted to do was go home and hide/cry. Family shit! Ugh! I hadn’t seen my little brother since 2009 (aprox.) though he only lives thirty miles north of me. I’ve written here before about my bro and I talk to him several times a week on the phone. So we’d planned to have lunch and I wanted to surprise him with a trip to Game Stop. The parents were out of town and so he felt it was easier/safer to plan to hang out this weekend.
Then he called me Saturday afternoon to say that he couldn’t hang out because a family friend had stopped by and wouldn’t leave. We decided it would be better to try the next day, and we did. Only, they weren’t supposed to return until Monday and instead got home before 3pm Sunday. Oops! I know you’re probably wondering what the big deal is, but I’m not speaking to my dad or his wife, haven’t seen them since 2009 as well, though that one is more by choice. They live in a delusional bubble completely disconnected from reality. When I have seen them in the past how they treat my brother leaves me depressed for days or more. My dad’s wife in particular is a major problem for me because she is a compulsive liar and completely in denial about it. When confronted she uses tears and guilt trips and other manipulations and has created such problems for my entire family that I no longer consider her or my dad relatives.
Because of this I had to park around the corner, stakeout style, to wait for my bro to come out. My boyfriend was by my side, holding my hand, the entire time. I was sobbing and just a total mess. I told him he didn’t have to come that this would be really difficult and that maybe it would be too much for him. He insisted on coming and being there for me. He said, “I can’t promise I’ll be chatty or social, but I want to be there for you, even if it’s just to hold your hand.” He really is the greatest thing to ever happen to me! And he did just that, but also tried to distract me from the stress this was causing me by laughing and singing and doing a funny dance in the car with me (he’s usually a more reserved chap).
We sat in the car for nearly an hour while my bro helped unload the truck and trailer from their camping trip before he was allowed to leave (my bro is 31 years old, btw). When I finally saw him coming I couldn’t believe my eyes! My little brother is a grown-ass man! He’s always been tall, but now he’s got a bald spot and a handlebar mustache, too! Wow! Ha-ha! But really, I could see his age in his eyes and that gave me pause. I asked him if I looked old to him, “No way! You look exactly the same, I don’t know how you do that!” I told him I’m a wizard!
We went to DQ and had burgers and fries and mini sundaes and talked about movies and reboots and Star Wars & Star Trek (#GeekLife). It was such a trip, but also really great that my boyfriend finally got to meet my brother after hearing so much about him and our odd phone conversations. Then we headed to Game Stop where I told my bro that I was buying him a PS3 (backwards compatible so he can still play his PS2 games he loves so friggin’ much). Then I said he could pick out one new game or two old ones…that guy lucked out when they had a deal where you get the PS3 plus 2 controllers and 6 games for $279! (I actually think they charged me less, but who cares, it was a great deal and he was ecstatic!)
As he was carrying the box out to the car he said, “Sarah, I’m hugging you in my head right now because I can’t while holding this box! Ha-ha!” I also had a big bag of random stuff I’d bought for him over the years intended for birthdays and what not. He called me later that night to say how he loved all of the goodies. My bff “Q” also gave him a small flat screen TV for his room so now his gaming will look even better! He loves games so much and had wanted a PS3 since it first came out, but my family is and maybe always will be poor. Wev.
I felt a million times better after getting to see my bro. I was worried about a big nasty confrontation with my dad and his wife. I hate that my bro has to deal with their bullshit everyday. He has such a great attitude and is so tolerant of their shit, but I’m not and just can’t with them. They refuse to see how they treat my brother as wrong and the last time my dad called me (last July) he called to tell me that he didn’t like the advice I was giving my brother. That “advice” was simply to ask for a copy of the power of attorney they had on him, that’s it! My brother felt mislead and didn’t fully understand what he signed. My dad’s response was a.) “your brother understood when he signed it” and b.) the state of California sees your brother as mentally disabled” and when I said that this makes zero sense, he got irritated and insisted I stay out of it. I said by collecting disability on his behalf and deeming him disabled he is robbing him of his future and furthermore that not allowing him access to the internet is absolutely robbing him of a future! He then hung up on me.
Yesterday when I picked up my bro my dad text me, “You’re welcome to come in and say hi” to which I did not respond. Why the fuck would I respond, let alone go into the house, of someone who sees my brother as disabled (he’s definitely not, for the record) and who hides him away from the world like he’s something to be ashamed of. Who he won’t allow to watch cartoons or sci fi channel movies (“cartoons are for children” and I don’t know wtf is wrong with the sci fi stuff, my dad is a big sci fi fan). I can’t allow someone in my life, relative or not, who treat my brother like a man servant or worse.
I recently offered to support my brother financially and try to get him a job near me so that he could move out and eventually become independent. He thought about it for a few days but in the end he decided he wanted to attempt this on his own. I respect that completely. It breaks my heart everyday that he lives in that hell hole, but I respect his wishes. I just fear that time will slip away before he realizes and that they have him right where they want him: completely dependent upon them while they become more and more physically dependent upon him. He recently told me that they don’t even put their dishes in the sink, they simply leave them on the table for him to clean up, everyday. They foster beagles and my brother cares for them completely. They don’t get walks, but there is a backyard for them.
I can’t speak to the current conditions of their house (I was terrified of the prospect of going inside yesterday so I am glad that I didn’t end up having to), but the last time I did go inside it was disgusting. Those people, meaning my dad and his wife, should not have foster anything in that house! It should be cleared out entirely and scrubbed from top to bottom. Their health issues (hepatitis, diabetes, hyper tension plus both had lap band surgery two years ago) and financial instability have created the perfect storm of filth and my brother’s dependence upon them for a roof and 3 meals has turned him into their caregiver.
I harbor a ton of guilt for moving out early. I feel like the worst big sister in the world, always. I know better, but that guilt is so big and heavy and painful sometimes that even when I’m doing all the right things I still know that my brother lives there and it kills me. But what can I do? I offered him a chance at freedom and he refused. He says he wants to ask them to lift his internet restriction so he can write his book. I told him that if they do I will buy him a laptop. I also told him that if they tried to take that laptop away that I’d personally show up and punch ‘em both in the fucking face, but my anger at them always makes him uncomfortable. He hates confrontation of any sort.
My brother is so smart and creative and a very mellow dude. He does his best to let everything sort of roll off his shoulders. He’s had the same job as a janitor for OSH since he graduated high school (something I never accomplished, btw). Yet he is treated like someone who cannot take care of himself. He’s truly never been given the chance. His life is ruled by their demands, chores, punishments and filth. He has no friends or contact with the outside world except at work. He only gets about 8 hours of work a week, though he is forced (by my dad & his wife) to pay for his own cell phone bill (not a smartphone) and health insurance. Mind you, they collect a check from disability on his behalf each month.
When he insisted that he wanted to try to become independent on his own I explained that he would have to be working full time hours in order to support himself. He said he would start applying to jobs in January, but here it is nearly April and he’s not filled out one. I really don’t know that he will ever get out of there or out of their grasp without my direct intervention. I don’t know if I will always have the spoons to deal with all of this, but I love my brother like nothing else in this world and will do my best to look out for him when I can. I mean, I fantasize about confronting them and fighting for him, but when I’m not there who will protect him from their wrath? (to my knowledge he’s never been physically struck or otherwise punished, they choose to simply restrict his entire life to the point of zero contact with the outside world.)
I am so grateful for the fact that I get to talk to my brother on the phone at all. There were three years when he wasn’t allowed to and my entire family stopped talking to me, too. All because of my dad’s wife’s fucking lies! Because of those lies I didn’t get to see my sister get married. Meanwhile they gave her grandson a new laptop from a fund created in my grandfather’s name, yet they wouldn’t allow my brother to attend community college. WTF?!?!?! *RAGE* This is venting for mental health, y’all! It helps, if only a bit. Thank you for reading and for giving a shit when sometimes it feels like it’s easier for the world to forget. I know. It’s hard. But I can’t forget, try as I might, because I love my bro too much!