My little brother Nick. What a jerk, right?
After going back and reading through a lot of my old notes and stories I found a common theme: in the majority of my stories (meaning all of them) I tend to cast myself as the victim. Stories of humiliation, how I've been done wrong, all told through a filter of pathos and humor. I'm the lovable loser. Truth be told, I'm not always the lovable loser:
I have been the bad guy.
When I was four years old I was sitting with my mother while she folded laundry. She said to me, "Guess what Summer?", and my answer was:"We're having company?" I loved having company over, I was always begging my parents to invite fun people over for me to entertain. (Keep note of how I often like to make situations about me)
We were not having company over.
She touched her tummy and a smile spread across her face, "We're not having company baby, I'm pregnant!"
I literally had no idea what that meant.
She explained to me that she had a baby growing in her tummy and that in October I might have a baby brother or sister.
To be honest I did not hear the brother part; my brain very deliberately blocked that word out. Up until that point I'd been living with an older brother who I really have no other descriptive other than he was a real dick. He was mean, he teased me, he excluded me; I had to assume the link was that all brothers are bastards and sisters were the promise-land of siblings.
Again, to be honest, I was a little apprehensive about losing my "baby" status. My mother literally said to me, "You're not the baby anymore, you gotta be a big sister!" This did not land well with me. I enjoyed being the baby; babies get attention. This would greatly diminish the attention that I so richly deserved. The trade-off, however, was that I was going to have a little sister who will play with me, and I would teach her how to play house and dress-up and draw and all the things a big sister should do; most importantly, I would never make her feel left out.
October 10th 1985 rolled around and so did my little brother. Yeah, brother. When I asked my mom why she didn't have a little sister for me she of course gave me the following terrible excuses:
"I didn't have a choice."
"I'm happy to have a healthy baby."
"I'm happy to have another little boy."
This was a betrayal, not only to me, but our gender. She already made one male hell-spawn, why is she happily adding to the pool?
In the first couple years of my little brother's life I earnestly tried to be a good big sister. I would offer to hold him and feed him, which was often met with being smeared with vomit. Once, I offered to change his diaper for her; I laid him down in the middle of the hallway and opened his diaper to discover what can only be best described as the green excrement of the churning bowels of Satan. I half-assed closed his diaper and abandoned him--just left him there in the hall. Seconds later I heard my mother shout, "Why is Nicholas rolling in poop in the middle of the hallway?!"
I'm not winning any good guy contests here.
Naturally my brothers formed an unholy alliance against me. This sounds paranoid but this is something they both would say to me on a regular basis: "We're brothers, we're supposed to team up against you." It was like that cartoon of the giant bulldog that mugged around with his scrappy little terrier friend that was like, "Get her! Give her hell!" I was constantly getting double-teamed, and not in the good way like I fantasize about as a consenting adult.
Don't judge me.
It didn't help that he was always getting into my stuff. He would use my shampoo as bubble bath. He and his friends would go into my room and steal my CD's or scatter my bras and underwear around the house. He would use my tampons for weird science experiments. He would steal my lipstick and use it for coloring.
Every time I would go to my mother and say, "Nicholas did *fill in the blank*!" She would always blame me for leaving things out, leaving my bedroom door open, having things, existing; it was always my fault.
I would even take punishment on his behalf. The worst one was when my mom found hot glue dried onto the carpet and she insisted it was me. I did not do it. This is something I am still--very--bitter about. I plead to her and insisted it was Nick's fault, that I didn't do it. She insisted I did and I got a spanking with a belt for it. After that, the bitter seed that was planted for my little brother grew into a full grown oak; hard, aged, and gnarly.
I hated my little brother. He often would deliberately try to get a rise out of me. I would do the thing where I would stand up to intimidate him and he would scream, "Summer don't hit me!" and my mother would send me to my room.
The day I finally found my power was my lowest moment. I was 17 and Nick was 12. I had come home and found him and his friend leafing through my CD collection in my bedroom; two major infractions. I told his friend to leave and I immediately lit into him.
"How many times have I told you to stay out of my room?! Don't touch my CD's??" The usual tantrum.
This time it was different. He wasn't making up excuses. He was just half smirking and he said to me, "I don't have to listen to you." That was it. I had no power. I had no power over my space, my things; I couldn't intimidate him and I never had anyone to back me up. All I could do was muster up the meanest thing I could think of.
"You are worthless. You are fucking worthless."
I said it with such hate and bile. It was effective. I could see it spread across his face; it hurt. I had finally been able to deliver a hit and it stuck. He screwed up his face and told me that he's not worthless, but I had taken my power back, so I kept delivering the hit.
"Yes you are. You are nothing. You are worthless. You do nothing for this family but drain us. I hate you. You are worthless."
After that our fights after would go the same way: he would do something to piss me off and in the meanest most dismissive way I would call him worthless. Every single time it hurt him and every single time it inflated my sense of power over him. I finally had a weapon; I could hurt him.
When he was 18 he met a truly awful girl at a card shop where he liked to hang out. I was constantly haranguing him for bringing her around; she was literally dirty, trashy, and mean to him. I had moved in with my mother for a short time after my father started going on the road for his job and she and Nick would come over for dinner. Once I caught her in my room sitting on the edge of my bed rifling through my night stand with my vibrator on her lap.
Some lines should never be uncrossed. She danced across this one.
I interrogated Nick. "Why are you with this girl? She's awful, she's dirty, and she's a thief. You could do so much better!"
The look on his face is so firmly planted in my brain. "Why the fuck do you care? I'm worthless? I'm a piece of shit! You hate me! I'm nothing! I'm nothing!"
He was beyond incredulous that someone who would say such hateful things to him would even care. He believed he didn't deserve better because, for years, the one person who should have forgiven him for doing stupid things like playing with my lipstick and borrowing my CD's was slowly chipping away at his self-worth in repayment.
I wish I could say that in that moment I redeemed myself and became the good guy--that I took his hand and told him that I only said those things out of anger. That I was, at the very least, sorry.
I didn't. I just let the moment land and he left me. We didn't speak for almost 2 years, shortly after I moved here to Seattle.
He had come out of the closet and had a boyfriend, Linn. He called me out of the blue one day and just wanted to catch up. We spoke as grown-ups. He told me about his hobbies, his art, the house he and Linn were moving into together. I told him about my new life in Seattle.
At the end as we were saying our goodbyes I told him it was so great to just talk to him like that. He told me it helped that he wasn't there to annoy me. I burst into tears. That last fight we had stayed with me and I carried deep sorrow for not telling him how sorry I was for implanting that thought in his head--the thought that he was worthless.
I told him that I said a lot of hateful things out of anger. That he isn't worthless and I never believed he was.
He was very quiet, and I thought I could hear him sniffling, like he was crying. He said thank you, like it really meant something to him; like it was something he needed to hear for a very long time. It was something I needed to do for a very long time.
A little over three years ago I stood up with my 6'4" little brother on his wedding day. He wore a beautiful purple wedding dress as he married his partner of many years. I marveled at the wonderful people in his life; the family he's built. My heart swelled with pride for my beautiful little brother.
After the ceremony I looked to the back of the venue to see my mother sneak out with her new husband. They didn't want to stay. She would later tell me that it was all too much for her.
In that moment I no longer felt like the bad guy.