Man haunted by past relationship with brother
Dear Annie: I am a 32-year-old married man with two children. I am trying to come to terms with my childhood. I grew up in a dysfunctional family, with an alcoholic father and a mother who had numerous affairs.
My elder brother, “Michael,” was my world. He is only three years older than I am, but he practically raised me. He is the one who got me dressed and ready for school every morning, fed me, helped me with my homework, and tucked me in at night.
When I was 12 years old, my parents were going through a nasty divorce, and our home had become a war zone. I began to cling to my brother even more for comfort and safety.
I am ashamed to admit that our relationship became inappropriate and sexual in nature. To this day, I am not sure how it happened. It was never the same after that, and we never discussed what we had done.
About a year ago, I started to go to therapy to deal with my past. I still love Michael and want to try to understand what we did and how it happened.
I approached him about meeting with my therapist, but he reacted with anger. He claims to have no memory of any sexual encounters between us. He says it never happened and I must be imagining the whole thing.
As God is my witness, I remember what happened between us. I am not looking to accuse. I just want to understand. He has told every member of the family, including our divorced parents, that I am some kind of a pervert with bizarre, sick fantasies about him. Unfortunately, the family believes him.
My therapist says that there is little I can do to get Michael to admit to our past, that I need to reach peace of mind on my own. Is there anything you can suggest to get him to at least sit down with my therapist and me? — Recovering
Dear Recovering: I am so sorry for what you went through, but I’m very glad to hear that you’re in therapy. I believe that your therapist is right — that there is little you can do to get Michael to admit the past. I encourage you to stay in therapy, as I believe you’ll find that you have many pathways to recovery that don’t require Michael’s participation. Call the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network’s hotline anytime if you need someone to talk to: 800-656-4673.
Dear Annie: Though your answer to “Craving Kicks” was good, I think it was slightly incomplete.
She said she felt completely free, present and powerful when she scored her first soccer goal and was indeed recalling those feelings. But I submit that any endeavor also has the potential to give those exact feelings of freedom, power and presentness when it is pursued with practice and then success is achieved. It depends on the intensity of the pursuit, the amount of focus and practice, and how crowd-pleasing accomplishments are. It does not have to be soccer. Successful professionals in all sports and in other endeavors — music acting, academics — experience the same power, freedom and presentness, which come from concentration and focus. This makes me wish I had practiced the piano more. — Kathy in Virginia Beach
Dear Kathy in Virginia Beach: I’m printing your letter because I agree completely. Great points. And it’s never too late: Go tickle those ivories!
Dear Annie is written by Annie Lane, a young, married mother of two. Send questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.