“Write ‘fuck‘ down on this piece of paper or I’ll tell Dad you said ‘fuck’!”
I stamped my feet a little and groaned beneath the weight of the injustice.
“But why, Phil? Why do you have to be so meeeeeaan?”
“Because you’re a little shit that Mum and Dad bought from Oxfam, you were one of those fat Ethiopians before they saved you, that’s why no one loves you as much as me..”
“No I wasn’t! No I Waa..”
“Do it you poofta!”
Tears begin to trickle down my face as I reluctantly ‘fuck’ed the piece of paper taken from the inside of a Cadbury’s Milk Tray box. It was deep purple, I was deep red.
“Daaaaad! Daaaaad! Peter wrote ‘Fuck‘ on this piece of paper!”
Dad was not best pleased and reacted accordingly. A soap in the mouth is like two up the arsehole, believe me.
I haven’t seen my brother for nearly two years, and it still isn’t long enough. I’m not sure how long it will be before I forgive him, but I feel like there is nothing underneath, I think I am most scared that I will discard him forever, God knows I have my reasons.
No one can ever tell you to cut a family member out of your life, you have to do that for yourself. I waited for two years for someone, anyone to give me permission to ditch him, in the end of course only I could allow myself to do the unthinkable.
I haven’t cut him off completely, just indefinitely. For as long as I need. This is not how I imagined my family relations would end-up but as I have always said: relatives are relative after all, right?
It would be much easier if I didn’t live in the same city as my family, most people get to piss-off and only return for booze fueled events, like the virgin birth celebration, or our Lord’s agonising death, softened by chocolate. Easter eggs really aren’t what they used to be though are they?
I wish I felt for my family what I see on TV but life is not like that; we are duped in to depression and feelings of inadequacy by the world’s biggest fuck-ups: Actors. Family is not anything by default, it’s what we put in to it, what we decide.
This is a letter that I never sent to my brother, but it is what I would say to him if there were no consequences, if I could be sure I would never regret it, but we can never know how we may feel in the future. For now I have said nothing, but this is about as honest as it gets. It’s not polished, it is what it is.
How are you?
I don’t feel well enough to write this but maybe I never will, I’m currently going cold turkey off all meds, drugs, even nicotine and caffeine. It’s tough, but it’s time to get clean and build a life again.
A very close ‘friend’ died of an OD not so long ago which sent me back in to a very bad place, just as I was getting much better. In a strange way it was for the best, I wasn’t far away from that not so long ago and I was still attached to him emotionally, and possibly always would have been. Still it’s harsh when there are no words for the kind of relationships I have, no legitimate mourning or recognition.
It’s been a fucking tough couple of years, don’t tell me it has been for you too, because it hasn’t, not in this way, only my life is this way, conversely yours is tough in ways I can’t imagine. The difference is in choice or lack thereof.
The main reason I haven’t been in touch with you is because you have upset me, deeply, not just over the past couple of years, but also in the vivid memories of gay jokes across the dining room table year after year, visit after visit, when you blatantly knew I was gay. Jokes and jokes. Always a fucking joke to you. Why didn’t you ever just ask me for fuck sake? Why not make it easy for me to come out to you? Because you thought I was a private person?
I am not a private person and never was, you just never took the time to see me for who I was past the age of 16. I was scared and alone, deeply alone in the dark for years, with a blind Christian family who are all passive-aggressive head-buriers.
I just wonder sometimes why no one thought to make it easier on me, why no one reached out to me, always the emphasis was on me to reach out to the family. But I was so alone.
I’m not angry, just tired and sad.
Before I came out to Mum and Dad you were all supportive until you found out that they were ‘OK’ with it – I remember clearly your tone dropping as I told you how ‘well’ it had gone. Why was that? I know what I heard in your voice, I’m sure of it.
There was no “Excellent that’s great news Pete!”. No enthusiasm or happiness, you seemed perturbed, bemused, annoyed even. No. There was only “Oh right…” then silence for a little while. Oh right? Fuck you. It was not ‘OK’ with them, it was not easy. It took some serious work to fix things with them, it’s still on-going. Relationships take work, and honesty. I don’t feel I have any of that from you.
Then you were all supportive when I had my (3rd) breakdown telling me I could come to you for support, I was so grateful and relived, but as soon as you found out that Dad helped me financially, what did you do Phil? Couldn’t you be pleased, even relived for me because I wouldn’t be out on the street? No, you thought it was the right time to write yet another letter about how badly you had been treated as a child. How they never supported you financially! How the fuck is that supposed to make me feel? You went SILENT for weeks and I had no idea why!
Were you jealous of my terrible life? Did you suffer so badly? Jealous that you didn’t get what your two younger siblings got? What we got was fucked-up Phil, properly. Take it from me, by all means. This is why I never told you, I never felt I could trust you and although I did everything to prove myself wrong it turns out I was right all along.
I have and would never be jealous of Anna, she is my little sister and I only want the best for her, the very best. I could only ever be pleased for her. But you? Why do you tell her you weigh the same as her and not encourage her instead? Why are you jealous of us Phil? GROW UP MATE!
When have you ever supported any of us? You’re supposed to be the eldest but you act like the youngest. Always glad to take but rarely there to give. Sometimes Susie looks like jealousy personified. Did you learn it from them? Did you catch Hopkinsitis?
You have the ‘perfect’ life Phil!. The life denied to both me and Anna so far. A house, a wife and kids, what more do you want? A sexual identity crisis and three fucking breakdowns? Have them, gladly, but how dare you be jealous of my life-long struggle? It’s almost unforgivable. Almost.
How could you be jealous of this shit Phil? How can you use my life as a commodity, as some kind of emotive currency? You and your wife need to grow up. Some of us have been forced to. You’re just kids raising kids.
How about counting your blessings? All we get is moan moan moan from you and Susie.
“Poor us, we’re so poor, but here’s our new fish collection, extension, massive TV”.
Poor my arse, that’s what happens when you have SIX children. Six?? What’s wrong with you?! Sorry Phil, but really? You both act as if they just happen some how, but you chose to have them, or at least she did, then you want sympathy? With each new one came more and more pressure..for everyone.
You chose your life Phil, to have kids and marry early, no one forced you to, you have security and a family of your own, what more do you want? You cause so many problems and upset so many people thinking you are the one who is hard-done-by. Take some fucking responsibility and ownership for your life-choices. I had NO choice in mine.
The way you two treat Mum and Dad is disgusting. DISGUSTING! I’m sick of it, and I’m sick of their cowardice too in not confronting you both over it, because of the constant emotional blackmail. Phil – you need them a hell of a lot more than they need you so please show them the respect they deserve or be ready for the consequences. You and your wife show so little gratitude to them especially Susie. You need them. Show them some love, if she can’t do it for real then she can fucking well fake it like we all do with her family.
Mum and Dad go through hell for your family. How many years will you resent them for? What kind of example is that to anyone? If I can let go then you certainly can, I would urge you to for your sake more than theirs, don’t let it eat you up inside anymore.
Every time I hear you call that other woman <his Mother-in-law> ‘Mum’ it makes my skin crawl. Isn’t that the same one who didn’t want you to be with her daughter? The racist? You weren’t good enough were you? Then you become their lacky? You should have taken their name when you got married if they are so perfect, and bleached your skin whilst you were at it.
Shameful. You make me feel sad and ashamed when I see the way you are with them, then compare it to how you are with your own parents who help you as much as they can. They may not be perfect, but they are yours and they love you, if only you’d let them. Are the Hopkins that great? No mate.
They are NOT great Phil. They are fucking vile and I bitterly resent every second I have ever had to spend with any of them because of you. Ergh the thought of those awful family events makes me shudder. I can’t stand them, nor can any of us because we are better and we know better, we just stay quiet to appease you and your wife’s moods. I tolerated it while I could, but no more. They represent everything that is wrong with this country, middle-class vacuousness. Pride and Ego. Competition and jealousy. Gag. No more.
I will never attend another event of theirs, ever. That’s your family, not mine, I have the superior model, let them suck on that while they compare cars.
I don’t know where we go from here, I have no ability to humour or bullshit anymore, I’m not sure I ever will again, I think you only get a certain amount of pretense in a lifetime and mine was all used up in the closet.
I do love you. I did look up to you. Did you ever love me?
That’s the point that I decided I would not send it.
He’s my brother..I love him, I have no intention of causing him pain but I can’t let him hurt me anymore either. I must protect myself from those who are too mindless to look out for me and not just their own interests, no matter how they relate to me. Blood may be thicker than water, but it tastes fucking vile.
Life is not ever what we are lead to believe it will be. It’s our own duty to be courageous, to see things for what they really are, not for what we are told they should be, even if it scares the shit out of us.
For now, just silence. Time will tell.