Mostly it just makes you feel worse
content: Feb 10, 2018 · podcast: Mar 17, 2021
And then there was that one time when one of my brothers called me out of the blue. I hadn’t talked to him in close to three years and we were just catching up, talking about a whole lot of nothing. And then without warning or skipping a beat or barely pausing for a breath, he asked me if, when we all lived together, if I had slept with his girlfriend.
I wasn’t taken completely off guard as I stood in the kitchen with the phone up to my ear. I knew that this day was coming but still, somethings you can never truly prepare for.
I hesitated for a moment and then said “yes” and that I was sorry. Relationships are sacred and I played a part in destroying one of his. I didn’t really want to say anything to him, own that dreadful behavior but I confessed because he deserved an honest answer. He deserved me being accountable to him right then and there. Plus, lying makes me crazy and being honest keeps me sane.
After he heard my confession he kinda acted like it wasn’t a big deal but I could tell that his feelings were hurt. Getting confirmation for something you knew all along was true often doesn’t make you feel any better. Mostly it just makes you feel worse.
You maybe wondering why I hadn’t made my amends to him sooner. I have a fairly simple answer. It had been over 10 years since the three of us had lived together and I had only seen him one time since, maybe in 1999. Just in passing really. There are certain subjects where one needs to wait until the time is right. Carelessly blurting out secrets of this magnitude can be just as reckless and as hurtful as whatever crime has been committed.
And yeah, I could’ve called or written him a letter since we lived in different states but I wanted to talk with him face-to-face. I felt he deserve that, that physical closeness. I wanted him to see the real remorse and regret in my eyes, the pain in my heart for what I had done to him, the pain I had caused. So when he called in 2002 and asked me point blank, I knew it was time.
After I came clean my brother and I’s conversation didn’t last much longer. Hanging up the phone I was filled with sadness, didn’t feel I had his forgiveness. There had only been an admission.
I had admired and looked up to him for much of my life. When we were kids he had never really treated me as an equal. Older brothers generally don’t, but when he had invited me to come live with them I felt that had all changed. Like I was one of his peers. And then I had let him down. Well, more than that. I had broken his heart.
My ex-wife was in the next room and she had heard most of our phone call. She could tell that I was rattled when she came into the kitchen. I told her what the scoop was, what I had done. She was supportive and understanding, said all the things one should say…but I always wondered how much of those few moments had changed her perception of me.
Anyways, another decade and more have passed and I’ve let most of my guilt go. I pray that god heals him in time just as god has healed me as well. I hope he finds his peace but also know he has his own share of demons in the basement to deal with. And most of them have nothing to do with me.
I’ve only talked to him one other time since that particular phone call, sometime in 2011 I think. He called me from a payphone drunk and obnoxious, yelling at people passing him by on the street. I was embarrassed for him. And it’s hard for me to admire him anymore. Even more so when between rants he angrily said to me, “What, are you too good to talk to me anymore?”
I ended that conversation by hanging up on him. Part of being restored to sanity means realizing I don’t have to tolerate abuse from someone in the present just because I hurt them in the past.
Mostly, I do feel as if I have peace with my brother now. I’ve came to terms with my part in all of it. And I did the only thing I could do in a grim situation like that: be direct, honest, and sincere.
And yes, what goes around comes around.
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