Today I have to put on my big sister cap. It's not a cap I wear often or easily. I'm eight years older than my younger brother, which from a psychological standpoint means we're basically only children. It means when I moved away from home he was still a brat and when I moved back he was at least half a foot taller than me. He might be a full foot now.
I'm going to do something I really don't do that often on this blog, I'm going to talk about family stuff. Yes, I've talked about my father a lot, but mostly those posts have been about grief, not about time spent with him, or the specifics of my relationship. Yes, you can find allusions in some of my posts, and in the post my mom wrote, about my childhood. You can find self deprecating remarks about codependency, the ease with which I put up emotional armor or the fact that most people think I'm a lot harder than I am when they first meet me but there aren't a whole lot of intimate details. In real life, I talk about these things. Some. Almost as a defense mechanism at times, I am not the friend you can ask if it would be nice to be a kids again and I am not the friend with whom you can make sweeping judgements about drug or alcohol abuse. Those are things I am upfront about because those things hurt me.
My little brother is at one of those ranches where they send kids who've gotten caught with drugs too many times. He got caught with pot and ecstasy, at a school where he had an "A" in tie dying class. Just sayin. One of the first letters he sent me talked about how most of the kids had done way worse stuff than him and I thought "No shit Sherlock" because I was working at a group home, with those kids. My feeling about him being there aren't really what matters though. What matters is that he wrote me a letter asking, to quote him "some therapeutic questions". Questions that I've berated myself for the last few months for not talking to him about sooner. Questions about my childhood, my choices to not use drugs, my experience with therapy.
It's really easy to tell the upper middle class kids I grew up with, my childhood was not the same as theirs, but how do I tell that to my little brother? And how do I say it without resentment?
I don't do drugs because I remember mornings where no amount of shaking could wake up my mother to get her to take me to school. I don't do drugs because I remember waiting for hours, sometimes days for my mother to reappear and then, when those days turned into months and those months turned into about two years, I remember days when I wondered if I'd ever see my mother again, if she was still alive. I don't do drugs because I lived my life terrified that if I wasn't perfect somebody else in my life that I loved would disappear. Or maybe everyone.
How do I explain to my little brother that it was an easy choice because at the age where somebody was still cutting his french toast for him every morning, I was getting myself up and ready for school and hoping there was enough money that we had milk for my cereal that week? How do I explain that when our mother came back into our life, for me it was the most wonderful thing ever and absolutely terrifying? It was years before I was able to live without fear of her relapsing. How do I explain to him that the reason I was always cool and distant and hard was that life started out a little rough for me and that I was jealous and resentful that he didn't understand how lucky he was?
And most importantly, how do I say I'm sorry? I'm sorry I wasn't there more. I'm sorry I didn't explain all these things sooner. I'm sorry I never told him why we were raised by Grandma and Grandpa. I'm sorry I never explained to him how risky it is for him to do drugs given that both his parents are addicts and our mother used while she was pregnant. I'm sorry I never asked what it was like for him to be raised by somebody other than his biological parents. I'm sorry I didn't speak up when I watched him being handed off to different family members knowing how much it had hurt when the same was done to me. I am sorry for not being a better sister and protecting him like I should've.
I am not an apologetic person. I am not one for regrets.
Today I am drowning in both.