I feel for you, brother, but I’m not strong enough to carry us both.

My brother’s been on my mind, I guess not more than usual because I always think about my missing family, but I guess today in particular because it’s his birthday. He’s 32. He doesn’t have a job, the spotty employment he has had for the last 12 years has been spotty, maybe 9 solid months total of work. He lives in my parents’ basement. Because the second I moved out, my mom took my tiny, tiny bedroom to store scrapbooking supplies. The second he moved out (after me even though he’s older even though when we were kids he’d get jealous of how close my mom and I were and ridicule me, asserting I’d live at home until I was 35. Well. Now we see how the story REALLY went) my mom moved into his bedroom. What thought could a person have towards their marriage as they purchase a twin bed so the wife can have her own bedroom? Sure, my dad will say it’s his snoring, but that’s a lie. He does snore, but also his wife (and whole family) despises him.  But then, my brother had to move back in, because of things i’ve already told you about) so he had to move into the basement. It is not a finished basement.

So today is my brother’s birthday. And of course, no, i did not contact him. Our relationship has dwindled down to nothing. It had gotten down to only seeing one another on the major holidays i went back home for. Then when I stopped being willing to tolerate my horrible father, I stopped seeing my brother altogether as well. Which, I mean collateral loss i guess. Whatever. It’s not like he gave two fucks about me. Well, wait, let me back up, he would, out of the blue, seem like he was obsessed with me and thought SO MUCH of me and wanted us to be as a close as possible…but it was always just a passing fancy. Now that I know what I know it was all probably pretty drug-related. The euphoria of heroin and all. But then, on the other side of that same coin, other time he went WAY out of his way to be as psychotic as possible towards me. And like, I’m fucking sorry, I’m his younger sister, when the fuck was IIIIII was supposed to stand up and be the man of the family while still letting my dad and brother think of themselves as men. Or adults. Or even fucking human.

But…before I become distinctly distracted by ALL of his shitty stories. I have one…from a long time ago…that I’ve always thought of as such an eerie indicator of his deep trouble to come. I don’t even know how to describe his psyche. It’s broken up AND shattered, though, if you realize what that means.

Me?

I’m just bendy, in a way that makes me seem fake,

I’m made of that which bends but does not break.

But you can be so bendy you SEEM broken, because other people will treat you like shit and you’ll take it and take it and take it, but then they FINALLY get to that thing that they say or do and you’re like “… … … … you know what? … … … FUCK YOU.” I think I’ve explained how that’s been the ruling doctrine of my life already.

But my brother…I don’t know if it was being the first kid or being the only boy or what but I feel like he got fucked by a mixture of genetics and growing up…like we all did on some levels. I mean me, I got that alcoholism something hard, but I also make the personal choice to hit up the liquor store RIGHT by my house after work and get 3 for $5 tall cans. Ain’t no gene making do that. BUT sometimes I want to get drunk and write, and well listen to the first part. The booze makes me angry. And the anger gives me focus. Fucking Star Wars was right on that front. The weed however that’ll make me forget and feel happy. If I only smoke weed I’m a significantly happier person. The anxiety and paranoia is there, though. If I go to bed really baked I’ll end up imagining what it would be like to die in a car accident until I realize what I’m doing and stop myself.

But, about this specific yarn I’d like to spin, it took place I’d say between the years of 1994-1996 I’d say. I know i was older than 5, and it was definitely a long time before my mom’s brother died when I was 12 (weird fact, HIS birthday is tomorrow) but I can’t remember details beyond that. It was when Bill Knapp’s was around because I remember going to one. But the issue took place in the town I’d move to right after high school, the one I lived in when I met my husband, where our wedding was, at their mall. There was some special anniversary edition of Mad Magazine featuring only Star Wars content. My brother really wanted this thing, and it cost more than normal because of it’s special edition-ness. My Grandma said she’d buy it, as she was prone to do when we wanted things that weren’t crazy expensive AND she was in a good mood. So we went into Spencer’s, the Mad Magazine was being purchased, all seemed well. But I recall, as we were leaving the mall, through the J C Penney, I noticed my brother was VERY upset and by extension my mom and Grandma were becoming increasingly upset as well. In fact, my brother wouldn’t even take the bag from Spencer’s, the one with this like $25 comic book in it. Grandma is starting to get pissed he is upset over something related to this stupid Mad magazine. I hear my brother tearfully, filled with indignant rage, say something along the lines of “He probably has AIDS!!”
Then, my child mind shot back to Spencer’s. My brother was losing his shit, and refusing to TOUCH this expensive ass Mad magazine because the guy who’d gotten it out of the case and rang my mom up had been wearing nail polish. Black nail polish. A guy working at Spencer’s with black nail polish. SHOCKER. Did he have pierced ears too? Jeez. But, this was the early 90’s and we didn’t live in an “enlightened” home by any means. But my brother apparently somehow saw that fact that the man who handled his Mad wearing nail polish was enough to definitely also mean he had AIDS and my brother would catch that shit off that paper. Like he literally FREAKED THE FUCK OUT and REFUSED to touch the Mad. My Grandma got pissed (I said she was emotionally manipulative, remember?) because she paid $25 for something my brother wouldn’t enjoy or thank her for, in fact it was actively enraging him. So my mom of course got mad because she was dealing with her inexplicably irrate child and her pissy mother…so yeah, no one’s going to be noticing little ol’ Cassie in the background. I remember the car ride to Bill Knapp’s. It was awful. The meal there was bad as well, because the bad feeling/argument persisted. My brother was NOT going to touch that Mad Magazine. Which of course threw my Grandma and by extension my mother into a frenzy of scoffing and hurt feelings. I cannot recall if my brother ate dinner or not. I say this because that would be his pet power move as an adolescent – refusing to eat at family gatherings. Because he KNEW it would upset my mom and Grandma, because they put so much work into the meal making, because we’re German and we express almost ALL of our affection and feeling through food. There would be many birthdays and holidays to come where my brother would sit at the table, not speaking, watching all of us eat, only drinking a beverage, with my mom repeatedly stating it didn’t matter to her, she was still going to eat (yet she HAD to keep reminding us all it didn’t matter….which you typically don’t do when something actually doesn’t matter to you). I remember the long drive back to my Grandma’s apartment (usually my only happy place besides my bedroom when I knew i was home alone). I remember my mom specifically calling some teen crisis counseling hotline, because she couldn’t even reason with my brother on this issue and it was scaring her.

I wonder what it was all about. My dad was SO good at intertwining God’s will with his own…and getting you to do things “in Jesus’ name”…it just….it could’ve literally been anything.

But that, that right there. It’s SUCH a good example of the weird, fucked up things my brother does that drives other people away from him. Even me. I refuse to have anything to do with him because I’m sick of handing him opportunities to tell me to fuck off. Add him on IG or Facebook and he’ll delete you out of the blue ( because he was fucked up and got mad at you for some reason). Text him and he’ll start ignoring you for no reason. Same with email. I hadn’t talk to him in awhile once, right, and I got a new phone number because my parents let their cell phone plan I was on go into collections so I woke up one morning to a non-functioning phone. This was when I was a full time college student, worked full time and ran a side pet-sitting business. So my cell phone was A LOT of different things to me. So I get on a plan with my in-laws, because they’re nice and rich like that, and I text my brother from my new phone number to inform him of these new developments, just so he’d have my number. His response was something along the lines of “What do I care? We never speak to one another.” Like WOW DUDE, okay. Let’s just get off our high horse of hatred and unfounded superiority for a SECOND. Another time, when my Grandma was still alive but during the last three years of her life (the ones she spent in a home, it was necessary, she was ailing at all but she couldn’t make it up and down the flight of stairs in her apartment building, and she couldn’t be trusted by herself at all, she’d started wandering out of the apartment and the building itself) when I feel like my brother was probably going hard with the heroin, he did this thing that’d he always did when we were kids. When he wanted something, he wouldn’t stop obsessing over it and talking about and asking for it until he got it. The ONLY times he ever drove out to my Grandma’s to visit her, after he started to drive, was to ask her for the money to get something, like something big like a laptop. Well, he was repeating that same behavior, but he was like…25-28 years old at the time (so that makes me 22-25 in age approximately) so it was especially…I don’t even have a word for this feeling…it’s how my brother makes me feel, like oh-that’s-pathetic combined with way-to-ALWAYS-be-a-raging-disappointment mixed with it-makes-me-so-sad-for-you-that-I-got-out-and-you-didn’t. And he wanted another laptop. He tried convincing my mom to put it on one of my Grandma’s credit cards (which my mom controlled at that time). But my Grandma was receiving some federal assistance for her SUPER expensive memory-care nursing home (because she was the widow of a WW2 veteran), so her finances were being VERY carefully watched so this was NOT a thing that could happen. Then my brother tried convincing ME to take out a credit card to charge this laptop to, because he would “get a job and pay it off himself.” I tried being polite and dodging him by saying I just couldn’t sign on for another financial burden. But then he was like “But I’d be paying for it.” Like I could trust his ass to find and keep a job and send me this credit card payment in full on time every month. He literally was even like “I have the whole form filled out already I just need your social security number.” Like that’s fucked up and annoying. So, I was annoyed, so I responded, “Well then get a job and save up and buy one with your own money.” Because like, that’s enough of him trying to coerce me into something, it’s not going to goddamn happen. His response was “Whatever. Don’t speak to me anymore.” Like I BET YOU ANYTHING, that is the VERBATIM text message he sent me. I read it in the self checkout at Meijer, I was buying our parents’ groceries for them…my mom was incapacitated from gall bladder removal surgery I think so of course my full time college and work having ass had to drive 40 minutes into our hometown to do their laundry and buy their groceries, while my dad and brother sat on their asses at home. Yep. Normal.

That’s my brother. He’s one of those friends who only wants to hang out when they’re single. We all know that type. Another time, RIGHT before I met my husband, I was taking my first and only spring class, you know the ones that run from the beginning of May until the end of June and are twice as grueling as a normal semester and you have to pay out of pocket for that bitch? Like I said only did one. But this one is significant to me, because literally right when it was ending was 1) when I had to start facing my best friend was moving far away and 2) when I met my husband. I’ve always found it odd those two things fell so closely together. Makes you think God might actually be looking after you. You can say it was just my emotional desperation to fill a void (giggity) but when you see how impossible I am, you’ll see how special it is I met someone like my husband, also the fact that he had a rich ass family and a generous af mom, it REALLY took the place of my Grandma’s generosity right quick. It’s like there’s certain gifts I’ve never been without. Then you think about how you’ve also been more or less healthy your whole life…so that’s impressive too, if you think about it, so thanks, God. Sometimes religion is hard for me to sort out…because of like…the fucked up shit I’ve alluded to a few times now. When like…a very sinister force in your life used Christianity as its backbone…you like…might…have weird feelings…towards Christian feelings…maybe….But at the same time, we all got here somehow, and I’ve always felt a divine presence. It’s hard to talk about with anyone, honestly. I’m honestly shocked I brought it up just now, but since I’m talking about my brother I guess I shouldn’t be too shocked.

I have three other stories about him jotted down, one is how I saw, SO vividly and in person, that he had a terrible heroin problem for the first time the day our mom had back surgery in the hospital in the town I got married in. It was August, I hadn’t seen him since the Christmas before that. I was STUNNED when he walked into the waiting room before  my mom would be taken to the OR prep room. He was emaciated like a skeleton, like he NEVER could have achieved on his own. His weight fluctuated throughout his life (like mine) but this was starving, puking heroin junkie, beak-lipped, hollow ass eyes and cheeks…just fucking sick. And he’s wearing this thick ass hoodie in the full on heat of August? Oh yeah, I saw what the fuck was up before he even started speaking, but boy did it become apparent after that too. So. I’m worried about Ma in surgery, and my idiot brother shows up HIGH AS A MOTHER FUCKING KITE of heroin in the surgical waiting room. They had those fancy screens that show you the exact location and time of the patient # associated with your loved one (so to be anonymous). My mom spent a LONG time in recovery, so my dad was tripping the fuck out, because if HE’S upset and worried, he definitely needs to make sure everyone else is too. So my dad’s saying “Something’s wrong, this is taking too long, something’s gone wrong.” over and over. And my brother’s on the other side of me, nose dripping, nodding off, utterly uncaring where he was or what he was doing. I told both of my parents within the next day what they were dealing with. Heroin was back then and still is a HUGE problem in both of those towns (which are fucking Halloweentown and Christmastown if they EVER did exist). I guess it’s a problem most places these days. But we kind of have a special monopoly on dismal and forgotten and hopeless, where I’m from. Particularly at home.

I got distracted and freaked out by the God stuff and never finished – so I’m taking this summer class, it was a psychology course and I loved the professor and got an A and all. And I remember getting a text from my brother during that psych class, asking me to take out ANOTHER student loan for $10,000 (I had just taken out a loan for that much) so he could keep his mustang.
Remember the insurance settlement for that car accident he got into ON HIS WAY TO OUR DAD’S CHURCH? Yeah he loaned out a 07 GT Mustang and of course poured TONS of money into it (like bought special racing seats) and then lost it when he ran out of money (it happened after a year, not long after that he lost his fiancee, she had him thrown in jail because she “feared for her safety” and that bitch still thinks I’m Facebook friends with her out of some…positive…reason). He asked me to take out a $10,000 loan so he could keep his car. I told him fucking no of course but the idea that he would ask.

It’s so late. I so need to cook dinner.

The other story is one where he couldn’t find heroin or weed and he HARASSED me with phone calls and texts when I made the SAD mistake of letting him know i had a miniscule amount of pot. I was still very ingrained into our family’s mental illness at this age (like 19 I think) so I ended up giving it to him, because he texted me like 80 times. Then when I have him come over to get the weed, my best friend it there, and my brother shows up high as fuck (I thought he was drunk at the time, but he was high on Vicodin, I’m sure, given what he told me in later years) and hits on her. A lot. I ended up just yelling at him to stop. As FUCKING if dude. She’s like light years better than him as a human being. Like they’re not even the same fucking species, as far as anything is concerned.

I guess I don’t think all that highly of my brother. BUT WOULD YOU???

And I think I already mentioned how he called ME from jail, when he was arrested after he broke up with his fiancee and went to jail from that, then I had to be the one to tell our mom he was in jail, not him. Fucking DICK move, man.

 

So….from afar and unknown to you…happy birthday brother. I’m sorry I wasn’t strong enough for BOTH of us. I’m not that great, it would seem. I wish you the best, but we both know who you’re too much like.

 

 

 

 

 

 

~Cass

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