Longing for the familly

Longing for the familly
Wednesday December 02, 2009

Dear Alice,

I’ve been in many types of therapy– first, analysis from age 20-25, then “regular” therapy at age 30 for a brief while, then cognitive therapy from ages 32-35 or so, and when I was 35 I started seeing the therapist I’m seeing now– a dynamic psychotherapist, I think it’s called. This current therapist is the first real enlightened witness I’ve had. My emotional awakening started at about age 26 and it’s been a slow slog towards health and truth ever since. I’m 38 now.

My mom is a really mean woman, and a couple of my therapists have suggested she probably has borderline personality disorder. She’ll never see a therapist or get help, so who knows for sure. Mostly, she is just a very angry, very cold, very scary woman. I’m the oldest child, her oldest daughter; I have a younger brother (6 years younger) and a younger sister (13 years younger). When my brother was born, I instantly became depressed — I was perceptive enough to see how my mother lavished warmth and love on him as she had never done with me. My father, who had been “mine” before the birth of my brother, essentially abandoned me to become my brother’s buddy– so my brother got them both, and I had none. It wasn’t until my sister was born and I saw how awfully they (my parents) treated her that I realized gender had something to do with it all. My brother has always been part of the “in crowd” in the family — my brother and my mother are the two “cool” ones who are closely bonded, and my father is their hanger-on, with me and my sister being the ones no one cares for. My father has no spine and simply gives in to whatever nastiness my mother conceives of. My brother and my mother both bullied my little sister. Both of them are still bullies.

At least, my brother is– can’t speak for my mother, as I’ve been out of touch with my parents for 2 years now– I’ve had no contact with them during that time at all. My brother claims to understand my need to stay away, but it’s clear from some of his words and actions that he really doesn’t. Last Christmas, he revealed to my mother that he was planning to see a movie with me (something the three of us siblings had planned to do together), and she had such a breakdown over this perceived betrayal of her (she viewed it as a betrayal that they would spend time with me although I wasn’t going home for Christmas) and threatened them so much that it scared my siblings to the point that they canceled seeing me at all.

The reason I’m writing is that now my relationship with my brother is crumbling. He’s acting more and more distant towards me; I’m seeing his lack of empathy toward me and toward people in general and I don’t like it. He thinks I’m doing something nasty to my mother by staying away, when the truth is my mother was nasty to me my whole life, only she doesn’t know it because she has no self-awareness. He’s unable to, and uninterested in, grasping this concept. But he is my brother, and I have so little family. It’s really just me and my sister now; other than one nice aunt and one nice uncle, (who I call nice because they still choose to treat me as a human they’re interested in despite my choice to cut off my parents) the rest of the family is just not interested in me at all. I feel so alone.

I know you’ll probably say that this is good, that my illusions are being dispelled. But I hate it. I hate the loneliness and the sense of isolation that comes from losing yet another person, another family member. I hate the stigma that comes of having a life where I don’t go home or see my parents or even talk to them on Thanksgiving or Christmas (although I live in the same city as my parents). Some people act like I’m a monster myself– they can’t believe I would “do such a thing to your own mother and father.”

I would appreciate a word of encouragement, and I thank you so much for everything you’ve done– your books have provided me an enlightened witness and your fearlessness in telling the truth makes you my hero.

“G” (my pseudonym should you choose to publish this letter)

AM: I can’t change your brother and give you the nice family you are longing for but I hope that the more you become the “mother” for the child in yourself that has suffered so much, the less you will feel abandonded and the less you will be longing for a family that makes you suffer.