Thursday, April 08, 2010

Ending my estrangement with one of my brothers - A complete fail

Note: this is the 3rd and FINAL post I will write about my brother and his reaction to learning one of my sons is gay. There will be no more posts on this subject after this. Part one can be read here. And part two can be read here.

I have been in a real funk lately. I've been vacillating between seething anger and reeling disbelief. Anger that my brother could actually think anyone would even care what the hell he deems moral or immoral and disbelief that he'd believe he has the moral high ground to stand in judgment of others after the way he has conducted a major portion of his own life.

I am quite taken aback by the ferocity of the emotions I am feeling right now. This is my brother for God's sake. And I have always been there for him, even when he'd lost his drivers license and couldn't make the daily 100 mile round-trip drive to jail to serve his month-long sentence for yet another DUI. And I not only showed up to drive him, but I provided the shoulder he cried on every single day, and a warm dinner all packaged and ready for him to eat while wailing about his out-of-control life. And mind you, I had 3 small children at the time so that huge chunk out of my day was quite the burden on me and my family. But I did that and so much more without complaint, without expectation of anything from him, and certainly without judging or condemning him.

I have no regrets about being there for him and I'd do it again if I had to, but I must confess that it does make the way this brother has reacted to the news about our son all the more hurtful and ugly. The feelings of betrayal, disgust and downright contempt for him are overwhelming right now. I am not sure whether I will ever be able forgive him.

I could just kick myself. I certainly had a pretty good suspicion deep down in my heart this brother was going to react the way he did when he found out I had a gay son (which is why it took me 7 years to tell him), but I guess I thought he'd at least show the same compassion we showed him when he was at some of the lowest points in his life. And at the very least I thought he would have the decency not to judge our son --- just as we had not judged him.

I have given this a lot of thought lately and now that I have had the time to think things through, I realize that it was me that was the idiot, not him. How on earth could I have thought that this brother would have reacted in any way other than the way he did? The signs were all there. He found the perfect way to escape any accountability for all the terrible choices he'd made in his own life. He "found God", declared Jesus Christ his Lord and Savior, and conveniently excused himself from any feelings of remorse, guilt, or the obligation to make amends to the many people he'd hurt throughout his life. But
probably worst of all, he skipped the opportunity to do the serious introspection and soul-searching that keeps one humble and in touch with their own humanness and fallibility and proceeded on to becoming an arrogant judgmental man who could, years later, sit in a car with me (again) and tell me he was going to heaven, but my son was not.

It just boggles my mind. For well over half of my 49 year-old brother's life he made the horrible life-style choice to abuse alcohol and be a supremely selfish, self-absorbed man who never ever looked at how his actions were affecting others. He never gave any thought to the innocent people he could hurt or kill when he'd make the choice to drive while under the influence. He never considered how damaging it might be for his little girls or his nephews and nieces to see him abusing alcohol. And he certainly never sought forgiveness from those who put up with his drinking all those years. And yet, he never missed an opportunity to tell anyone who'd listen how everyone else's actions affected him. The prism through which he viewed the world allowed but one perspective and that was with him as the eternal victim.

So why the hell am I surprised by his reaction to finding out he has a gay nephew? His response should not have felt like a sucker-punch to the gut, but it did. I absolutely should have known what was coming. But no, there I sat, like the world's biggest fool, trapped in a car with him, listening to his holier-than-thou schtick about loving the sinner, but hating the sin while completely forgetting his own past full of ugly life-style choices, and dare-I-say, sins. It was simply surreal listening to this brother tell me my son was going to hell for the "sin" of loving someone that did not meet his approval, but even more surreal was hearing him tell me to keep our son away from him and his family should he have someone with him. But I guess that is silly of me to expect that this brother would be capable of knowing how that would feel, after all, we never chose to shun him or tell him to stay away from our family when he was making some of the worst decisions of his life. Share


Wormwood's Doxy said...

I'm so sorry for the pain I know this is causing you.

Even when we don't give of ourselves and our time/resources in the expectation that we will get something back, it is doubly painful to have our own open hearts trampled carelessly by people who OUGHT to take that care.

My better nature says that you can rejoice that he is no longer drinking and putting himself and others in danger---without having to subject yourself and your family to the hate that infects his heart.

There is a reason that so many in the LGBT community have what they term "families of choice"---we don't get to choose our blood relatives, but we CAN choose to hold close only those who will treat us with human dignity and respect. You seem to have those people in your life in abundance, so I hope that you can find a way to rest in the love and acceptance they can give you and your son.

My best friend is fond of saying, "Doxy, life is long!"--meaning that nothing stays the same and very little is written in stone. I hope that your brother and his family will come to realize that your son is the same person he always was--and to repent of the pain they have caused you. I will pray for you and your family today---may the Holy Spirit wrap you in the shelter of Her wings and give you the peace that passes understanding.


Jarred said...

You were hoping for the best and wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. That's what makes you so different from him. So don't be too hard on yourself just because he proved unworthy of the benefit of the doubt, okay? That you were willing to extend it to him says a lot about you. Please try to keep that in perspective.

Have I mentioned lately how much I admire you?

Seething Mom said...

Oh my Doxy! What a beautiful and thoughtful comment. You have no idea how much it means to me that you took the time to write this lovely and very comforting response. Thank you so much.

With love,

Seething Mom said...

Thank you, thank you Jarred. You have been my biggest supporter and defender from the beginning. You have no idea how much that means to me!

Love you...

The Crow said...

A few years ago blogger Terrence Heath ( introduced me to the concept of the dry drunk. The term describes your brother well. At the time, Terrence used the term to describe that previous occupant of the White House (the one we all seethed over during the past decade). Terrence, who went through Alcoholics Anonymous, explained it this way. One important step in recovery is a moral inventory that takes a careful look at the damage that drinking has done and then takes steps to reconcile with the offended. A dry drunk merely stops drinking without any attempt at actual recovery. That leaves all offensive and troublesome behavior firmly in place except no alcohol is consumed.

I mention it to say that if AA has a name for it than it is a common occurrence. Your brother isn't the only one. I personally think that many in the Religious Right are attracted to that way of believing because it excuses them from changing obnoxious behavior as long as they change their target.

I thank God for the journey you have traveled and have shared with us and for the peace you have found. Your brother and his relationship to you are now in God's hands.

Seething Mom said...

I was also introduced to this "dry drunk" concept during the Bush years (and I may have also read it on Terrence's site). It really helped give me some insight into Bush's mindset during his presidency and now into my own brother's as well. I just didn't have the courage to put that term "dry drunk" into writing even though I knew in my heart that my brother fits the definition to a tee. I suppose I felt that if I didn't verbalize it or put it down in writing, it wouldn't really be so and maybe one day he'd see the error of his ways. But... if Bush is any indicator, I'd better not hold my breath.

Thank you Crow for taking the time to share your valuable thoughts. I do appreciate it.