My Brother Is Not Sick. Maybe He Is?
I do not know what to do anymore. Maybe I do not care anymore? These are some basic notes on how I think of this matter.
I am going to pre-empt this by saying that I am obviously distraught. Before you get all up in my grill, yeah yeah… mental illness; addiction is a disease; we are all special snowflakes. If these are the words in your head right now then I want to tell you to give me a moment. I never thought that I would be in this place, and if you remark about this abstractly and only out of principle, then you have absolutely no idea.
This is certainly not about me and, moreover, is certainly not about him. None of this is about me, him, my parents, ex-wife, ancestors, The War, alcohol, intentions, regrets, or anything else at hand to conveniently blame and at which to point. It is not about any one thing specifically: it is about everything, all of it, and how we all grew to be here, how we are altogether.
This is my catharsis, because I am so very tired and sick of this in the most literal sense of the words. We are all so tired.
My father is going senile. Somehow he is the only one left to consistently find ingenious new excuses for why my brother has come to this. Today, it is because of the wind: the Americans are doing something with ozone, microwaves, something-or-other, or whatever to alter the weather and make my brother want to die, apparently. Aliens also stole my uncle’s socks as part of this same narrative.
But it would explain something, or at least make it addressable. What is terrible here is that my brother actually thinks that leaving us by means of his own hands would somehow make any of this better. I cannot relate to this or him anymore, nor do I have the capacity. I have no idea what to do.
Maybe I am wrong, but maybe my brother went berserk. Maybe he has gone full nut-bar and maybe I am at a loss over this matter. Maybe this thing where I thought that knowing somebody of my own flesh — my brother—the only person I ever trusted, meant something or was important, somehow. Maybe I am stupid. Maybe I should never have fallen for this; maybe he needs me more than ever, and I am just weak.
I am a stickler for grammar and this is the only time I ever actually found it appropriate to attempt an interrobang, but I do not know how to type it in.
I lost count of the issues and the matters by now. Everything blurs into this consistent fabric that there is a major problem with your brother and nobody knows what to do. I understand that mental illness is a thing, that it has its own needs, that it is a something I thought I understood, but I really have a lot of difficulty with this. This is not an apology. Those words still do not register properly in my brain: there is something very wrong with my brother.
Who do I choose? To whom am I beholden, to my parents, or to my brother? Why am I even in this position of choosing? Whatever is happening, it is killing all of them more than it is killing me, but it is the entirety of it all that really kills me. Do I choose my grandmother’s tears over my brothers? What is happening anymore?
What of my briefly sister-in-law? How can I even begin to help her? What am I supposed to do here, because nobody gave me a manual for this when I popped out of the womb. I get sick at the thought of having to manage my family post-Stephen? What does that even mean, and is that what he actually wants? What is going on here?
Whatever this situation and whatever position within the family, I earnt and own—now even without choice — that of patriarch, admirably. So here we are. I cannot believe that I am even writing about this. Insert another interrobang.
My brother needs my tenderness, but I do not even know how to do that anymore. I do not know how to be Paul and Stephen anymore. I have to manage everyone else and it leaves me spent, obviously more so than what it does to my parents, but this is my unleash and I do it unto all of you. I am impatient, but my mother’s heart is already battered and fragile enough. They fled in order to give us better life, so who would have thought it to end up here?
Patience runs thin. I know all of you will think that I am a terrible person because yadda-yadda, or this-and-that, but my patience runs very thin quite quickly. None of us know what to do anymore, save for maybe the American government’s wind bringing us a new breath, for maybe another day where things will change and be different, today. Maybe this time? It won’t be this time.
I am not fooled, not stupid. I sit here useless. Hope is material for children and the weak. Hope is for those desperate and without horizons. Hope is for those who have no more hope left and are selfish to leave the scraps.
I write this in part as a letter to my future self: I am fucking terrified. I cannot take on an additional person’s life responsibilities even if it is my brother — my brother. I have my own weights and baggage to carry, but I beg the planets that this will not be a regret I carry with me forever hereafter.
I cannot help you. Only you can help yourself now. I am so sorry. I love you.
Me, I am the first and still only Western degree in the family, but this is beside the point: I am a — nay , the — safety net now, de facto. I wanted to say that it is in time that everyone learns to own their own actions and decisions, but maybe it is time for me to learn otherwise? I am not quite sure; interrobang. This is why we are a good family, why we respect one another, why we are good people. We are good people. How did his happen? How did this actually happen to us, to him?
But know this, and hear this very crisply: we just want to be happy. I may be stupid enough to think that we can get back there, to that place, maybe one day. Whatever the hell is happening to my brother, our destiny cannot ever happen without him. Stephen, you are essential and core to all of my dreams, to all of my happiness. It breaks my heart that you do not understand this. Will you not be here to watch me marry, to eat food with me, to be my brother?
I forever miss my youth; my brother is integral to this, never mind the rest of my life. I do not — I cannot, please—know life without Stephen.
I love you Stephen, and you know that I always will. I also know that you won’t read single word of this, but please stay with us. If not else, then stay here for me?