How is it that a date can trigger so much distress? It’s just a day, like any other in the year. But today is a day that brings to mind so many things I would rather forget.
I struggle to refer to my brother’s child as my nephew, just as I struggle to refer to my brother as my brother. But technically that’s what they are. And today is that little boy I’ll never meet’s first birthday.
I can’t believe a year has passed since he was born. I still can’t believe that my brother’s wife, on discovering that he’d abused me as a child and had kept that hidden from her for the entirety of their relationship, then chose to have a baby with him. People just don’t make sense.
You’d think that discovering your husband was a paedophile might put an end to a marriage. It’s not even like there’s any doubt. My mum witnessed it. He confessed to the police. If it had happened today, he would’ve served a very long jail sentence. He was lucky that sentencing laws weren’t changed until a few years after he was found out. But none of that matters to her.
The pregnancy was a horrible shock to me. My brother even wrote me a letter, asking me to be happy for him and help him bring his little one into a world of ‘positivity, happiness and love’. I’m not sure how he thought that was possible. Like it would be easy for me to just forget how he held me down and forced himself on me, and turn that disgust and fear and rage into hopefulness and happiness that he was going to have his own baby he could do whatever he liked with.
I was so afraid for the unborn child and so furious that I reported his unconvicted crimes to the police soon after I got that letter. But that’s a whole other story.
The rest of my family, as usual, buried their heads in the sand. They’ve always wanted to bypass this revolting truth about our history. They wanted to be able to look forward to the new baby, they strived as usual to simplify everything and avoid acknowledging what my brother is. A year on, and it’s all still the same.
My nephew is by all accounts a happy, healthy boy. But if I were religious, I would pray for him. Because none of us know what his truth is. Nobody but he and my brother knows what takes place when they are alone. And, just like when I was little, nobody wants to look for that truth – because they might see something they don’t like. So another child is left in his care. Unprotected.
Of course, he could be absolutely safe. While I sincerely hope that is the case, it makes me so angry that the adults in his life are unquestioning. My parents are 100% convinced that my brother would never repeat what he did to me. They say he is a different person now, and it was all a long time ago. But none of us have any idea what he’s done in the 20 years since he abused me. He could’ve repeated all of that countless times for all they know. Their willingness to just give him the benefit of the doubt fills me with hatred for them all.
I don’t want to hate my family, because I love them, and that makes everything feel so complicated and overwhelming. And incredibly painful.
My mum came to visit today, which didn’t help matters at all. She wanted to talk about my eating disorder. She wanted me to explain why I won’t eat, why I am still losing weight. She said she’s worried about me. I felt as though she was such a phony; throwing kindnesses at me so she could make herself feel less guilty. I didn’t want to even look at her. And I was angry because I shouldn’t have to explain to her why I don’t want to exist. She should know already. We’ve been through it enough times.
Tonight I want to stop feeling. I am sick of feeling all of this, thinking about it, wondering what to do and how I am supposed to change and let go of obsessing over the past. I know I can’t undo any of it. I know I can’t make people behave how I want them to behave. But that doesn’t make any of it feel easier. It doesn’t make me able to let go of my fantasy of belonging to a family I feel nurtured by.
Photo: Igor Spasic, Creative Commons.