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:


“I know, I’m not mad at you, it’s just, I miss my sister and I need her right now, sorry for being edgy”

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?


13 thoughts on “Confession

  1. Janine says:

    Acceptance is one of the hardest things we can do……..there is no need to be embarrassed for reaching out to your brother, its human nature, please don’t beat yourself up over this, if anyone should be embarrassed it should be him, for playing such games. Believe in yourself……you’ve come so far……

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Zoe says:

    Your relationship with your family reminds me a lot of my relationship with my ex. I’m so sorry this happened. I just want to say though, that your feelings seem logical to me. Experience dictates what we ought to do, but our heart desires differently. You’re not weak. This isn’t weakness. A desire to have a truly caring, loving family is legitimate and natural; they are the ones who are messed up in this equation, not you. You just long for something that should be there by default.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Boost Connection says:

    You wouldn’t be you if you didn’t make an effort to be the better person. You made yourself vulnerable and reached out despite any misgivings. You felt protective and empathic towards your brother, even while feeling defensive. It wasn’t rewarded, but that’s not your fault and it certainly doesn’t make you stupid. You did what is in your generous and kind human nature to do. The people in your life now can see that for the benefit it is without taking advantage of or abusing that.

    And it’s also okay to just want to feel needed sometimes. To feel important to and validated by people we have spent a lot of time on/with in our lives. Feel whatever you need to feel about this, but I’m very proud of you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. kat says:

    so many of us are learning that our families are toxic to us, as adults. we can rationally understand, and in most situations, we can behave appropriately…but add a little stress, emotion, or whatever..and all of a sudden, we are back in the dysfunctional family again.

    once we accept, really accept, that our families are shit, and learn it all the way through to our core, can we start staying away from them, even when we are stressed and want to fall back into our old ways.

    you have done nothing wrong, and no reason to feel guilty. that is just their toxic headtrip. just keep staying in your healthy life, and you will be ok.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Anxious Mom says:

    Wow…I’m sorry you haven’t had a more supportive family (to put it lightly…wth kind of people burden a teen with their own problems while they’re in a mental health facility?!). It’s sad how some people can’t view someone else outside of them being a means to their own selfish ends, but I’m glad you have such a supportive wife ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fumbling Through Therapy says:

      Thanks. I’m sorry, too. But I am extremely grateful to have my wife and others that do truly support me. I think I just get these moments where I wish so badly that my family was different that I forget they’re not. When reality hits again, there’s always that “ping” of pain and sadness. I want so much for them to better. But I can’t make them be better.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Cat says:

    I feel I could’ve written his post myself. When we’re from a dysfunctional family, we tend to notice it more when we back away from them and, of course, start therapy. Personally, I think you did the right thing. I always doubt my reaching out, but then I usually think at least I’m keeping myself in the right. This baggage is theirs/his

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Heathers Helpers says:

    It is VERY hard to accept. I’ve done it myself and even though I know the decision was a smart one and it was best for me, I still hold out hope on occasion that they will reach out in a positive way. It is not going to happen but I still wish it.
    In my experience? Accepting that is it perfectly okay to wish for it and loving your family is natural, it just will not happen the way you want it to. I think we spend too much energy trying to not feel emotional about it all.
    Thinking of you!

    Liked by 1 person

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