A meditation on being estranged from my brother. I have only one sibling, and our parents are dead. I do not talk to him by choice because he is abusive. Even his apologies are abusive. He somehow is able to make it sound like it is my fault that he is abusive to me. Then, after that, he starts doing the same abusive behavior all over again. I have given him multiple chances.
I had not planned on working on this topic again – I’ve written about it a lot. But then I was cutting out some pictures and words from magazines for a project at work and came across the one at the top – about how awkward it is to have a sibling you don’t talk to. It isn’t normal or expected. I was initially upset about these words (I felt it in my gut) and thought it too personal to make an art journal page about. But then I realised that is exactly why I needed to do it.
Sometimes it takes a long time for wounds to heal. Sometimes it takes a lot of different ways to do it, too. Sometimes it doesn’t ever heal, and that is OK too – to sit with the wound and let it be filled with something else, something better. But first you have to see it, and clean it out all the way.
I have dashes under the “all of the fun, none of the” collage piece for “fill in the blank”. I’ve written a list of words – good and bad, about what it means to divorce your sibling. I’ve used washi tape to affix it to the back of the page. I use only one side of each page in this journal so that I can cut out and frame / sell / give away a page and so that the ink / watercolor / Sharpie doesn’t bleed through or smear and mess up the other page.
Words that are there –
(things I’ve lost because I don’t have a sibling I can trust)
Friendship trust history promises future reliability cooperation resource dependability traditions insights help failsafe backup hope
(things I have lost because I’ve gotten rid of an abusive person in my life)
narcissism psychopath being used arrogance delusions subterfuge bullshit megalomania psychological abuse hidden harm manipulation gaslighting lies hypocrisy
The craziest thing is that a relative wrote me after a blog post I wrote once about how abusive my brother is. The relative begged me to make peace with my brother because we were the last relatives that he had on this side. As if it is my fault that the damage is there. As if it is up to me to apologize and make amends. That too is abuse – to expect the victim to “make things right”.
People say “But do you forgive him in your heart?” They are usually Christian. They think there is some magic formula. If I “forgive him in my heart” then I’m off the hook. This is crazy-making. Sure, I forgive him in the way that I understand a shark can’t help being a shark. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to go back in the water and let that shark bite me again.
Created around 1/2/17 – Strathmore art journal, magazine clippings (many from Cosmo), gesso, Distress ink, colored pencil