Relationships are one of the things that define us, but without us having total control. They’re built on trust, not just the kind where you believe someone is trustworthy (eg they’re not going to tell lies about you, steal from you etc) but also the kind that they’re going to be there for you whenever you need them. Unfortunately this isn’t always within their control either. And when suddenly they’re not there it can be devastating and hurt like hell for a very long time. Emma wrote a really great post about trust here that is well worth reading – it’s so honest and open and says it all really. it also helped me to work out how I was going to write this post, so thanks for that!
10 years ago this year (in August) my brother was killed in a road accident. I got the call at 11pm one night from my sister who was struggling to hold it together, and after speaking to her i spoke to my mum who was in pieces – my dad wasn’t able to speak to me because of how upset he was. Apart from the obvious shock, hearing my parents (who don’t do emotion or expression of feeling) in that state was a massive shock. Long term it pisses me off because they’re pretty much back to being emotionphobic again now – there’s probably a whole post in that. But, apart from the shock and disbelief about what had happened, slowly over a long period of time I have realised that losing my brother has left a hole that can never be filled, and also a problem trusting people. Funnily enough I think that realisation has been one of the biggest things to come from therapy so far.
We were 2 years apart in age (I was older) but as close as 2 people can be for most of our lives growing up. We fought, argued and occasionally pissed each other off as siblings do, but remained close. in a lot of ways he seemed more like the older brother – more confident in many ways, more outgoing and probably more grounded. We shared a sense of humour that I’ve never found anybody since who can – my wife and kids have had to put up with all the stupidity that was a part of that without ever understanding it – poor things. We helped each other out – financially, with advice, by talking about anything. It was the only relationship with another male where I have been able to be like that – generally blokes are crap at that kind of thing, a good reason for being more comfortable around women and gay men (obviously this is a generalisation, but it’s true in my personal experience). After he died i pretty much withdrew from the majority of my friends. It’s hard to replace somebody that important in your life, and for a while it would have felt like a betrayal to hang around with friends. Dumb but true!
In the lst 10 years I’ve moved on from there, at least quite a bit. I have friends, although don’t trust them like I should and am working on that. I still miss my brother deeply – in some ways I’d rather have the pain than forget. it’s bad enough that some of the memories of him are fuzzy and it’s harder to hear his voice and see his face, i couldn’t completely let go of the pain – it keeps him real in my life. While i’ve had various people (including my current therapist) subtly suggest this isn’t healthy, it’s how it is. I’m not letting go of him totally. Sometimes I envy him – would rather trade places and not be here. not because of any altruistic ideal but because living with depression is a slayer and I’d rather be well out of it. Sometimes I think he got the better deal and feel angry. Sometimes I wish he was still here and that we had gotten round to doing all the things we’d talked about. I wish he’d lived to see his own daughter born, to meet my youngest daughter, to see our sister married and happy. Sometimes i think he missed out on a whole heap of pain. But tomorrow would have been his birthday, so mainly right now I’m missing finding him the stupidest birthday card available, buying him a present who’s joke would really get him and catching up with news. Come August I’m planning to make it up to where he had his accident and pay my own tribute for the first time in 10 years, just face up to what happened a bit more and maybe lay a few ghosts to rest. But tomorrow he would have been 34, so happy birthday bro – missing you as always.