I’ve been meaning to publish this for a while. It always felt too difficult to share. But I’ve recently resolved to do more difficult things to try and drive some progress with my therapy. So here goes.
Dear [my brother],
I am writing to you about why I have been ill and the steps I need to take in order to recover. I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital because I have suffered from depression for a while, but my moods had worsened and I was experiencing a lot of anxiety as well. This is all linked to the trauma you inflicted on me as a child.
Over the last six months I have experienced flashbacks on an almost daily basis, as well as nightmares; to the extent that my day-to-day existence has come to feel like torture. As well as this, I was self-harming. I have had over 40 stitches to repair self-inflicted wounds. A lot of the time, I did this in desperation, trying to escape from my emotions. I now have to take two types of antidepressants, as well as a huge dose of sedatives, just to be able to sleep, eat and function on the most basic level. I have been in so much pain that I even considered taking my own life. All of this is your fault.
What you did to me when I was a child was wrong. You manipulated me to fulfil your own sick fantasies. It was cruel and it was completely unfair. I shouldn’t have known those things at that age. Your actions forced me to have to grow up far too soon, and I can never take back the innocence you stole from me. No child should ever have to feel unsafe in their own home, and no person should be made to feel how I have for all the years since.
I have spent the last 18 years feeling as though I had a part of the responsibility for what you did, in particular regarding the misery it caused for mum and dad. Mum completely went to pieces. I used to hear her sobbing in bed at night. I thought that was my fault and I have felt guilty ever since. But the hurt and upset that was caused was completely down to you. I was a vulnerable child and you violated me.
It has had such a huge impact on me. I am so angry with you. The anger boils in me and eats me up inside because I just don’t know what to do with it. So I have turned it all on myself, because what else could I do when I had to treat you like my brother?
I am also incredibly sad; for my younger self, and for mum and dad as well. I wish none of it had ever happened. But there is no way to erase the past and I have to find a way to move on with my life. This is why I have to leave you behind. I can see a future in which [my wife] and I will be happy, but I don’t see a place there for you. You are fortunate that I managed to maintain our relationship for as long as I have, but I see no reason for this to continue now. Perhaps this will change eventually, but until that time comes – if it ever does – I would like you not to communicate with myself or [my wife]. Not in person, not on the phone and not through mum and dad. The only exception to this would be if there were an emergency involving another member of the family.
Another step I have decided to take is to tell [my sister] what happened. I have always felt that this secret has kept a wall between us and made it difficult for me to be as close to her as I would like. I love her and value her too much to let that continue, and I also need her support – which I have no doubt she will give without hesitation.
You can reply in writing to this letter if you want to, but nothing you can say will change my mind. If you do want to write me a letter in response, please include an explanation. Because I don’t think I can ever understand why you did it. Like the physical scars I now have all over my body, I am hoping that some of the emotional pain will soon start to heal and I will be able to begin rebuilding my life.