I have a confession to make. Well, it’s not really a confession. I shouldn’t phrase it that way. But I feel so much guilt about it, that I suppose it feels like a confession.
The truth is: I reached out to my brother last week when our family friend died.
Ugh. I hate even writing that. But…it’s true. He made this comment while conversing with my cousin via text message:
And just like that, he had me. I didn’t reach out immediately. I waited until I got home so I could talk it over with my wife and get her feedback. She said that if I really wanted to reach out, I should. But I should also do so without compromising my safety or privacy. I tried calling from an “unknown caller” (I just hit *67 before dialing his number), but he didn’t pick up. So Wife found an app that creates a “burner” number for you. The number can be used for calls or texts and then “burned” (i.e. removed from your phone/disconnected) if you need it gone. I felt this was probably the safest way to contact him.
So I sent a text message from this burner app. I told him it was me and that he could call if he wanted to talk. And also that I was very sorry to hear about the death of our friend. He replied, “Thanks for getting back to me. I’m sorry. I’ll call you back when I’m done with (friend’s daughter). I miss you terribly and I love you” I sent back “Okay. I love you too.”
That was it. Literally. He never did actually call me back. Or even text again. What a fucking idiot am I?
See, this is exactly how my bio family works. It’s all drama and bullshit and manipulation. I don’t doubt that he really did want to speak to me in the moment he texted my cousin. But then, once the novelty and rush of the moment wore off, he couldn’t be bothered. It is never about anyone but him. He didn’t miss me because of ME. He missed me because of what I always provided for him. I’ve always been the one everyone else just emotionally vomits on. Since I am naturally sensitive and empathic, I’m a fucking magnet for people to just dump all of their crap on. Especially my family members.
When I was 16, I was locked in a state psychiatric facility after attempting suicide for the second time in one week. My older sister was in college nearby and my parents were an hour away from either of us. There was health drama with my Grandmother and relationship drama (read: domestic violence) with my Aunt. My sister and parents would all call me to complain about the others and then ask me to either relay or get information from another person. While I was in a mental ward.
Which is a laughably perfect example of the role I played in my family. I was always expected to be exactly what everyone needed at the exact moment they needed it. No matter what the price was to myself (or my sanity). I am a textbook “gifted child”, in the sense that I can scan my environment in a matter of seconds and figure out what everyone around me needs or wants. And then I can find a way to give it to them.
This is precisely what happened with my brother last week. I read the text conversation, assessed his needs, and found a way to fill them. Even though I knew that it wasn’t really about me at all. Even though I knew he was just looking for a place to dump his emotional shit. Even though I knew it was all part of a game. I did it anyway. It’s like I can’t help myself.
I’m so embarrassed. And even worse? I’m hurt.
I’m hurt that he didn’t get back to me. I didn’t even really want to talk to him, but I really wanted him to want to talk to me. And he didn’t. Which kind of sucks. I keep wanting these things to not be true about my family, but they are true. My family members are shit people who don’t care about me.
When am I going to accept that?