This is in response to Maddy's post. I can not begin to touch upon the pain and sadness I felt after reading it or grasp the depth of emotion and complexity of thought it evoked in me.
I believe that many people feel that they do not deserve the love they receive.
Jessica once made a comment about what a good sister I am. Her words should have made me feel happy and proud, but they instead filled me with tremendous guilt for playing a role I do not deserve.
When brother1 first became ill, I was 16-years old. His childhood had been far from easy while mine had been blessed with good health, academic success, and childhood friends. My parents put every last drop of energy and willpower into my brother, and, given my propensity for perfectionism even as a youth, they found themselves letting me be my own parent. I don't blame them, and I don't feel that they did anything wrong--they loved me and supported me, and that's all a child should truly want and need. When you are a child, however, the world appears so very different.
I wanted the attention brother1 received. I couldn't understand why my parents invested so much energy in him when I was the one doing all of the things that other parents wished their children would do. My yearning for attention manifested itself into outright cruelty towards brother1--I made it my mission to crush him verbally, and, sometimes, physically. While my brother was more than happy and quite adept at returning my punches, a duel with my tongue always left him lying in the desert full of wounds that I pray have healed over time. Anything that he wanted, I made sure I got. The plan was always simple: get brother1 in trouble, and he loses his privileges. I had eternal shotgun, prime computer use, and my choice of TV viewing. I'm a firm believer that truly bright children are born evil and must learn to be pure.
Timing is everything. The day I was supposed to get my driver's license, my parents were a no show. My youth pastor took me instead, and I somehow passed even though my three-point turn was more like 6, and I killed a cone while parallel parking. When I called them in excitement, they informed me that they couldn't pick me up to celebrate; my brother had been taken by the police to the mental hospital. At a time when I should have rushed home to support my family, I didn't. It's hard to be supportive of others when you are dwelling in your own self-pity. I could not have helped my brother, but I could have taken some of the burden off of brother2 who was 12 at the time. He took care of my parents and the house for 2-years while I wallowed in my egocentric world. His scars from those years kill me every time I look at him--they are now my scars too.
I was happy every time brother1 went into the hospital because it meant our house was calm, filled with the peace of silence. When he was gone, my parents noticed that I was starting on the varsity team, or singing in the state competition, or winning in the art festival. I was special, and I loved it, and I never stopped to think that I had traded my brother's health, happiness, and freedom for momentary, selfish bliss. I reveled that there was no fighting at Thanksgiving dinner and was jealous and hateful when my grandmother took holiday cookies to brother2 in the hospital--she had never made cookies for the rest of us.
There were so many moments when I could have helped, when I should have helped, but I didn't. I lashed out at my parents and my brothers and nothing was ever the way I wanted it, the way I thought I needed it. We forget, sometimes, how trivial things are so important to you when you are a teenager.
On the day of my highschool graduation, my parents were supposed to attend a small party that my friends were throwing in honor of me, the valedictorian. At the time, it was an accomplishment so important to me because I never thought I would end up at that podium. As my parents approached me after the graduation ceremony, however, I knew they would not be coming with me. My brother had fallen ill again. I should have gone with them to the hospital--I got drunk instead.
I lived life in the moment for several years after that. I pitied myself for turning down the acceptance from the college of my dreams so that I could attend a university closer to home to "be there for my family". I don't remember going home once to help them during those years. I had my cake and ate it too. Unfortunately it was made of cyanide.
Life knocks you down and when you get back up, if you get back up, you may be lucky enough to have had your eyes opened by the fall. My family is everything to me now, and I can't remember the last time I felt sorry for myself. It makes me sick to think about how I used to be, who I used to be. I feel as though I have to spend every waking moment trying to erase the wounds I delivered, trying to make life easier for my exhausted family. I still have a lot of ground to cover, but I feel blessed that my family survived long enough for me to come back home.
The most ironic part of those years was that I was my family's defender as I am today. There were several occasions when my protection almost went too far--I believe that I would murder if necessary to protect my family and god knows there were several times I thought about it. I couldn't, however, protect them from myself. We often wonder why the "bad" people get everything and the "good" people get nothing but trouble and misery. I struggle with that aspect of life everyday. My brothers and my family didn't deserve those years; if anyone deserved them, it was me.
I'm sorry...for everything.