13 January 2011

I wrote you a letter

When you did that thing we don't talk about, they made you write us letters. I can't remember if you wrote me one. You didn't give it to me, but I don't think I could have read it, even if you had.

I was the one who'd found out about what you did. Probably best it had been me, looking back. The others couldn't have coped, they loved you more than I did.

I shall never forget the words I heard spoken, they came out of nowhere, one ordinary day. That look. The way he cried then his body shook. The sickness that overwhelmed me. Deep in my stomach, rolling, vibrating, reverberating to my very core. I held him tight. I hated you.

At the time, I couldn't bring myself to speak your name, think about your face, acknowledge who you were. But I wasn't able to avoid you, like I could avoid stranger's conversations, questions, and stares. You were too close to ignore. I withdrew inside myself, had lost my shine. I felt like I couldn't smile. I was forced to watch you carry on your life as normal - as if nothing had happened - laughing with your friends at school and pissing around by the tuck shop like you always did.

Do y'know, I was taken to see a psychologist a few weeks later? How funny, I thought, to be seeing a psychologist. I used to think they were for crazy people. I wasn't crazy, I was numb. The hospital was grand - we'd got in quick on the health insurance - it had large grounds surrounding it and I can recall the way the gravel crunched under the tyres for what seemed like forever as Mum drove the car up the long drive. If I hadn't been so worried, I might have found it a peaceful place to be. Set out like a stately home, I sat on the edge of the chaise longue, my slightly muddy trainers tucked underneath. My sister took the armchair to my right. She hadn't stopped crying for days; and her eyes looked red and sore. I don't remember the face of the psychiatrist, whether they were male or female, or the manner of the voice as it asked us to come in. But I recall clearly the white airy room we both walked into, the plush green carpets and especially the wide windows, wedged slightly ajar, with white papery blinds slanted half open, allowing me peeks of the beautiful gardens beyond this room.
I want you to know how it was for us, because I don't think anyone's told you.
I think you should know how I told the whole story, from beginning to end, as if I was reading an autocue. How my worried eyes kept darting to my sister - a teary mess in the chair next to me - I didn't want my words to hurt her more. Even after what you did, I felt I was betraying you. Later they told Mum that I was coping fine - that it was my sister who needed the drugs. Part of me was hurt, but there was a part of me that felt pleased I hadn't given all of myself away.

Maybe I'm too proud.
Because I couldn't bring myself to tell you that it hurt to lose you. Do you remember the silly garden games we played when we were young? We loved digging up Mum's flower beds, searching for 'treasure' until it got too dark and we were muddy and cold, left with little piles of broken white china at our feet - fighting over the best bits. We used to lie on our bellies playing Monopoly for hours - you were the ship, and I was the boot. You'd always cheat - just like Gramps - and nick Park Lane whenever I ran to the bathroom and back again - either that, or a £500 note. Remember when we collected the smooth skimming pebbles on Bognor Regis beaches? Us two, pottering about in our jellies, sandy hands clasping red plastic buckets filled with super-smooth skimmers. I hurt because you'd so carelessly thrown it all away.

I have so many questions I need to ask you, even now, after time wrapped it's forgetful hands over and over those painful situations, until all the sharp edges became blurred.  It's just like the sea's waves of repetition, when the days turn into years of tumbling jagged rocks in the tides, which in time, become our smooth skimmers. You cant tell by looking at a single pebble what it could have looked like, how rough those edges once might have been. I buried the hurt you caused deep down, so deep, I'm sometimes worried I'll forget. I often feel like I have to remind myself, skim over the details in my mind, just so you don't get away with it.

I could never walk, the way you walk into a room - cocky, like you own it. You make people feel as if they have to tiptoe around you. I don't like your arrogance and don't understand it. Sometimes I wonder if it's really who you are, or just a facade to protect yourself from what you've done. It's probably easier to be this way, than to care about what people think.

I watched you on Boxing Day, put your arm around my Mum. Her eyes went soft, and the colour flushed to her cheeks. She looked so happy. Just for that moment, it was as if you hadn't hurt her all those times, and I knew she was hoping you'd changed. I find it hard how you have crept back in. You lay sprawled on your belly on the living room floor, playing board games with the children (just like we used to). I thought how much space you took up now, how the room felt smaller, a little claustrophobic. I saw the years etched deeper on your face. Your eyes crinkled up whenever you smiled, but they didn't really sparkle.
I wasn't feeling that well, was I? Remember, I had that cold? You'd laughed at me glugging cough syrup straight from the bottle, and I'd given you a look. You reached out your arm and playfully grabbed me - caught me by surprise. You hugged me so tight, and wouldn't let me go, and I must have looked so small compared to you, because I only came up to your chest. You smelt of fags and other people's houses, a mixture of the familiar, and the not quite right. 

I was frightened that once you let me go, we would return to just pretending. You'd once again turn into you - the brother that I'd lost. And I would go back to never forgetting.


  1. That was outstanding. Your best yet. Brave, lucid, eloquent. And if I may say so - quite poetic. Thank you. I'm going to go read it again.

  2. Beautiful, brave, heart-rending but strong. You did so well to write this.

  3. This is an amazing letter. I almost felt your pain while reading this. It is, as Philip said before, outstanding.
    I've already read it twice but I'll read it again tomorrow. It's really wonderful written post.

  4. I don't know why but I got teary eyed by the time I reached the end of the post...beautifully written....

  5. Very brave, very strong. A wonderful post.

  6. There are so many little details that make this quite brilliant.

    I thought it was gorgeous - the calm, yet (yes, I agree with Philip) poetic way you described your feelings and the specific memories that gave it shape. Definitely one for your Popular Posts sidebar.

  7. Yes, I agree with all - really beautiful and poetic. Raw, and with great introspection. Baring soul is hard, but genius, as we see here.

  8. Phillip - I was nervous posting this, but felt completely relieved when you wrote your comment - feel so honoured you loved it. Thank you so much. Meant a lot.

    Sharon - As I wrote to Phillip - I am so grateful for the way you recieved it. Thank you for your lovely words.

    Starlight - You are so kind! Thank you. I'm touched you read it three times! :)

    Caterpillar - Thank you! Pleased I was able to convey how I felt well enough. (Sorry I made you teary...)

    Light208 - It was rather scary posting this. I was worried how it would be recieved. But thank you for liking it.

    OWO - That's a wonderful compliment - Thank you so much. I hope it manages to make it up there!

    Jayne - Gosh, it really was hard - took me all week to write, but all these comments made it worth it. I'm so grateful for your lovely words! Thank you.

  9. Thanks for stopping by my blog and now following. This being the very first post of yours I read it is an eye opener. The writing is brilliant and full of emotion. Whether it's fact or fiction I do not know. Either way, I'll be reading more of your blog from now on. Great writing.

  10. It is not true to say that you aren't try to forget and forgive. There is the situation when your heart feels as though it has been knifed. I think if you've been traumatized, it's hard to change.
    Does it make any sense?

  11. What a wonderful post. I read it several times to make sure I got it all. I have an older brother and can relate to some of your feelings. But I am curious as to what he did? Maybe that's part of the charm of this though.

  12. Bouncin' Barb - Glad you enjoyed it - and thank you so much for following!

    Olga - It is incredibly hard to forgive, but I think I've got there (almost) - but forget, is another matter. Your right, trauma really does affect us and changes us, but sometimes it shapes your heart to be more strong and understanding. You do make sense - and thank you for your comment. :)

  13. Shopgirl - I think I was a little nervous to put down what he actually did in words, partly because it was awful, and partly because I wanted people to wonder in their own minds, and define it in their own way. Thank you for commenting - and for your kind words!

  14. Very powerful writing.
    Congrats on the Charlie Award.

  15. I had an imaginary brother that I had to let go of. Very, very recently. And I'm twenty-one. That should tell you about the trips to the therapist the entire process involved: "halluciantions" and "delusions" and "escapist tendencies" used to hurt. It still does sometimes. Your post reminded me of that phase of growing up. And how I would write letters to him, and want to share it on a blog, to feel relieved; and be just too scared of doing it.

    You're strong. And a very good writer.

  16. This is brilliant writing, so layered and so full of meanings! It was quite an experience reading it...

  17. This is a special read indeed.

    I somehow got stuck with the image of peeks of the beautiful gardens throughout the text.

  18. Wow. I've read this twice and I will undoubtedly read it again. Fabulous writing and incredibly moving.

    Of course, I then had to read everything else you've written - I think I've been stuck here for an hour or so.

    I'll definitely be back :)

  19. Congratulations on the Charlie. This post is exactly the sort of thing that deserves recognition in his name. Please read his stuff---you'll like him.

  20. Not long ago, I wrote you a Google note telling you I liked the name of your blog. You answered, "join the party," and I did—never expecting such a well-written post as this one.

    Thanks to Philip, I'm extremely proud to have my name associated with it (uh, I have a humility problem, in that I don't have any).

    I'm looking forward to more of your writing, Bth.

  21. You are definitely brave. So well written and heartfelt. Much of my childhood seen in your words. Thank you for sharing.

  22. Robbie Gray: thank you for saying so.

    Dis.func.tion: thank you very much!

    Scribbler: I'm so pleased you could relate to this post, and I'm sorry to hear you had a difficult time too. Putting things into letters does help heal. Maybe you should try it too?

    Siddhartha Joshi: Really kind of you to say, thank you.

    Mladen: I think that was my favourite paragraph too - they were beautiful gardens, im so pleased you liked this post. Thank you.

  23. Clare Dunn: Woah! That's a wonderful thing to say - thanks!

    Elaine: Very touched you read all my posts! Thank you. I'm so pleased you like my writing. See you soon.

    laytonwoman3rd: Thank you. I love Charlie's writing and was so happy my post was picked to be associated with his blog.

    Charlie: Haha, I'm ever so happy to have your name plasted all over this post! So touched at yours and Philip's choice at choosing this post for the second ever 'Charlie Award'. Thank you, Charlie.

    Erika: It was straight from the heart, and felt amazing that so many could relate to my writing. Thank you for reading!

  24. this is a really moving letter. i've been thinking of posting a letter too but just can't get around to doing it. it's been there in my inbox for months but i'm scared it's too personal.. well you've inspired to me to finally post it. thanks :)

  25. What a wonderful way to write a letter like this. This is my first visit to your blog. Congrats on the Charlie award. You are deserving of much applause, for the courage to write this post of love, regret, pain. If only the people we write letters like this to would hear the words clearly and deeply as they are written.

  26. Thank you.

    And I'm proud of you.
    A, I guess an odd thing to be.
    Being proud of a stranger but I am.

    Thank you.