Monday, November 10, 2008

The Fender Bender In The Corner

Posted by Maggie, Dammit.


When I got the call at 2am that my brother was crouched broken and drunk in his garage with a loaded gun pressed to his temple, my first thoughts were of you. Where the hell were you? How did you manage to sleep through these precious wretched hours while your husband was imploding? Why did he turn to his friends, these friends who called me at 2am, instead of to you, his wife? But I murdered those thoughts as quickly as they came because there just wasn't time. I had to keep both of you alive, I had to figure out what to do, I had to weigh the images in my mind of him shooting himself, of him shooting you, of the police shooting him, and decide which one I could live with. I had to make decisions from the deserted island of my living room floor, and I failed. I froze, and I failed, and though someone else stepped in and saved us all, the business of hating myself was enough to keep me busy and distracted for the next few months and so I did not think about you at all.

That was this summer, a lifetime ago, and the changes I've seen in him are nothing short of miraculous. He has quit drinking. He willingly takes his medication. The boy who would speak to no one now confides weekly in a therapist, and the boy who could not read until high school writes for hours in stacks of weathered notebooks. He seems so steady now he's almost unrecognizable to me, a likable stranger I plan to get to know if I can just baby-step through this trail of broken trust and old pain but, you? You are leaving him.

You're not just leaving him, you're slipping responsibility like a cocktail dress from your angular frame. You are pouring wine in front of him, you are poking at fresh wounds. You and your crazy family are searching for new problems, new mysterious ailments he must possess, and blaming his non-cooperation in his own witch-hunt as proof he doesn't want this marriage. It makes me question everything I have ever known about you, everything you have ever said.

When my brother was a train-wreck nobody noticed you, the fender bender in the corner. Now he is mending and you can't handle it, your own scratches and dings and decades-old mold coming to light. And it's not just the distraction from your own brand of crazy, it's something more, something sinister, and I don't think you mean it and I don't think you see it but it's there, and it's real, and it's this: It's like you need him to be sick, like it's feeding something in you. Without it, you starve.

I have waited 30 years to know my brother. You can leave him if you want to, I'm staying right here by his side.

46 comments:

Kandi said...

Wow. By fixing himself, he exposes her. Her hiding place is gone.

Pare said...

The best line is the last one. Excellent writing, dear.

Neil said...

Read that. Powerful. Not sure what to say yet.

The Introvert said...

Very insightful. I've known people like that. they rely on their significant other being damaged in order to hide their own imperfections and when the damaged one is healing, suddenly the tables turn. I am so happy for you and your brother. Praying for your family.

Sugar said...

Those of us that are broken tend to find other broken parts to see if maybe we can put our shattered pieces together and make a whole. When on of the two figures out that to become whole, we must fix ourself, the other is left behind still broken... and now angry.

It's better to have the two parts become whole... but that is so rare. The whole must move on and leave the broken parts behind.

Marinka said...

Very powerful and beautifully written. But it's hard to know what she has been through. I'm not defending her (I don't know enough to defend anyone, of course). But I do know that your brother is lucky to have you.

catnip said...

It sounds like he'll be better off without her in the long run. He's very lucky to have you though.

Debbi Andersen said...

WOW this is a story I have known personally .. it wasn't as intense but it came down to infidelity because once 1 person started to fix themselves the other felt un-needed and sought out someone that they could take care of. This post is wonderful - I don't think many people realize what lies beneath the top later we allow others to see... many people only feel self worth when they are depended upon. Luckily in the situation i am privy to it all worked out in the end-help was sought and relationship was mended .. and the marriage went on to 32 years until the untimely passing of my dad. Thank you for writing this article!

debra said...

I am so glad he is getting stronger every day. I pray that the worst is over for your brother and family.

It sounds like she, however, still has a long way to go.

{hugs}

Jessica said...

I, wow, that is one powerful read. I hope that he finds peace. I hope she finds her soul and realizes what she is doing.

Christina said...

Like others I have witnessed a similar story with friends just last year. He wanted a broken wife that he could care for (though never fix)..and when she finally fixed herself by entering a rehab facility, he brought a new broken girl home to their bed. Lovely huh? Eighteen years of life and two kids and that was his response to his wife healing herself. I guess the story is all too common, but it still sucks.

Crystal D said...

It is so easy for those small dangerous disasters to hide behind the train wrecks. But you are so right, when he is fixed it is no longer safe for her to be there. It is too easy for everyone to spot all of her imperfections. She no longer can make herself feel better by looking to her right in bed and knowing at least she is better than that. So even if it might be hard for him now, she would have never been the support he would always need. If he was ever going to have a chance of this lasting he needs better than her.

Mama Ginger Tree said...

Very well written. It is so hard to watch a family member in pain.

Sounds like maybe he will be able to move forward better without her. Maybe.

Insta-mom said...

Wow. Left me breathless.

merlotmom said...

I'm so glad you're brother is finding his way. As far as his wife, let her go. You are so right, some people need others to make themselves look good. You have your brother to worry about and it sounds like she is toxic to his healing. I hope he sees that for what it is and can continue moving forward without her.

heather said...

Finding the person inside is scary sometimes. Eerie similar happenings in my family. Now our road ahead is paved with hope, and that helps.

Honeybell said...

It sounds like the age old story of a co-dependent. I think your brother is getting well in ways he couldn't imagine.

Wonderfully written.

Shannon said...

I was in a very similar situation, except I was in the position of your brothers wife. I passed off the responsibility to his sister and family. I'm aware of my faults and I hope one day she will be too.
But unlike her, I left the whole situation well enough alone - just doing what I have to in order to protect myself.

This entry gave me hope that my ex will be able to recover as beautifully as your brother has.

Thank you for giving me that hope.

Natalie said...

I know that at this point in time it may be a hard pill to swallow, but it sounds like your brother is better off without her. She is a co-dependent and will continue to try and drag him down.

Pouring wine in front of him? Are you kidding? Or was that figurative?

Deezee said...

brilliantly written.

Bean Hayden said...

oh your brilliant use of words stuns me every time. you are brilliant and strong. she is weak. He will be better because of you. XOXO!

Karen Sugarpants said...

Wow Maggie. Stay strong.

Mary said...

Reminds me of the crazymakers Julia Cameron speaks of in The Artists Way. Very hard to not get sucked in by the crazymakers. I'm sure you'll help your brother to be strong.

Secret Agent Mama said...

Maggie, dammit, that was one fabulous piece of writing. Stay strong. You know you have a lot of people on your side, your brother included!

Ernesta said...

Family is meant to stay by your side thru thick and thin.

CrookedPigtails said...

Wow, Maggie, I am so sorry you had to receive that phone call. You're brother is lucky to have you. I'll be thinking of you and your family and hoping you find peace.

Maggie, Dammit said...

Thank you all so much. Having this space to vent is invaluable, so thank you especially to Her Bad Mother. I wrote this in a fit of rage last week, and now it looks like my brother and his wife might be working it out...? I guess I'll believe it when I see it, and I'll accept it when I've got some place to store this anger. But for now, I'm just so grateful that you let me vent, and for all the amazing things you said.

(and yes, Natalie, the pouring wine was literal.)

THANK YOU.

womaninawindow said...

I wonder if after she slips off that dress she'll see herself as ugly,
or not.

Gypsy said...

Some people thrive on misery and broken things. I'm glad your brother is on his way to not being one of them.

Anonymous said...

As his sister, I can see why you would feel the way you do. But being married to an alcholic isn't the same as being a sister of an alcoholic. Perhaps you are correct (you'd know better than any of us) but perhaps she's wanted to leave for a long time but didn't know how, didn't want to leave him sick and now that he's getting stonger she feels she finally can. Perhaps things are so broken between them that she doesn't feel up to the challenge of fixing the relationship. Perhaps she moved on long ago. Not to mention that someone trying to get sober and stay sober spends alot of time doing that, especially in a 12 step program. It's not easy being married and living with an alcoholic.
Thank goodness you are staying by your brothers side. Thank goodness. I wish him a long life of sobriety, and happiness.

Sandra said...

It amazes me how we can witness the enormity of one person's courage on one hand and the enormity of another's selfishness on the other when faced with a challenge such as this. Here's to your brother's courage and your steadfastness. We are here for support, too. xo

Mrs. Chicken said...

You're right. It was feeding her. I hope he can let her go and keep turning toward the light.

You are strong, indeed, and a brilliant wordsmith.

Maggie, Dammit said...

I just want to say I appreciate anonymous's comment. I always try to see all the sides, and I always urge other people to do that, too. I know my brother is not an easy person to live with. He has hurt me more than anyone else I can name in my life. I would never be disrespectful to my sister-in-law in person, and that's why I hid this in the safe space of another person's blog. I was angry, and I needed to vent, and it helped -- but in the end I went back to the hard work of real life and embraced them both, and that's what I aspire to every day.

Anonymous said...

Maggie, you didn't have to justify anything to me, I see that and believe you completely. You deserve to be angry and I admire you for also going back to the hard work. Hard work indeed. Alanon isn't for everyone but it's been useful for many people affected by alcholism. I wish you and your brother much success.

Maggie, Dammit said...

Actually, Al-Anon has helped me a great deal and I recommend it to everyone. :)

Kat said...

Maggie, I'm so glad your brother is finding his way back. This was an amazing post, thanks for sharing it.

Lea said...

incredibly written my love. many of the comments have been brilliant as well. xoxox

flutter said...

he deserves you.

Rhea said...

Maggie, thanks for sending me a link to this post. You have amazing insight, and a fabulous way off sharing it.

I'm so sorry about all your brother (and you) have gone through. I'm so glad he's finding his way again.

And I'm glad you're by his side.

crazymumma said...

There are those who are attracted to those who have more apparent problems so as to better hide their own.

What an incredible journey he is on.

Anonymous said...

I was so moved reading this. Thank you for writing and sharing it.

I am a her in this situation, the one who is trying to fix herself. My husband is the one feeling exposed. I can so relate to your post. It's raw.

Marcie said...

What a writer you are...are you published?
The story really packed a punch.

Don Mills Diva said...

You are a beautiful writer and a hell of a sister, Maggie.

Vodka Mom said...

That was absolutely incredible. But, I am not surprised.

Maggie, Dammit said...

Yeah, they're not working it out after all. I found out on Facebook.

Not sure why I'm leaving this comment, no one will see it but me. I guess I just needed to say it.

Her Bad Mother said...

I see it, Maggie. XOXOX