Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Little brother, where are you?

Sunday, at 5pm, I started a week long fast from the Internet. This fast just came about after realizing I wanted some time and solitude, to clear my head and my thoughts, and not allow myself to be distracted. The Internet is one of my biggest "distractions" when life gets too busy, or when it isn't the fairy tale I thought life was going to be as a young child.

Its not just about giving up the Internet for a week and going to my other forms of distraction. Its about learning something from this process.

Well, are you wondering what I'm doing online then during this break? I decided I'd allow myself the use of the Internet for two things: Work (I can't quit my job for a week right now), and to blog. So far so good, I have not cheated, and already I notice my thought patterns changing and me having to process more, think more, and be in the moment more. I'm choosing not to escape.

This fast came about at an ironic time. I don't believe in life being random, so I think the timing was perfect, although when I first realized what would be going on during this fast I initially thought I had not planned this well, when in fact, it was planned perfectly.

On Saturday, the day before my fast was to start, one of my long time closest friends moved away. My younger brother also moved in.

I met Melissa 5 years ago. She was the new young woman dating my younger brother, Matt. Slowly over the 5 years she became a part of our family. Although their relationship was often difficult, I could not picture my brother without Melissa, and expected that they would soon get engaged and marry.

We all hoped for this, and Melissa wanted this so badly with my brother, but after a very rocky final year, my brother decided, for reasons he can't explain, that he could not get married. To sum it up, he said his emotions were just a mess and he was confused. After months of trying to work on things and getting no where, both decided to mutually split, and Melissa moved back to her friends and family three hours away.

This isn't about another breakup though. This isn't even about losing a friend, as Melissa and I have a friendship that is independent and strong, and we both have faith will last.

This is about losing my brother. Truth be told, I have never found my brother. I see him several days out of the week, yet he remains a stranger to me. I'm closer to his now ex-girlfriend than I am with him.

Where is he? He is lost, broken, alone, in turmoil, and has been for years.

My brother has always been a bit of the outcast in the family. For whatever reason, he is emotionally removed. He is there in body, but at times that seems that is all that is there.

My brother told my family a few years ago, with a blank stare on his face, that he didn't know if he loved us. My Mother wailed at the thought of her own son not loving her, my Father pulled away and shut down. I on the other hand knew this all along. It saddened me to hear the words, but I knew my brother did not know us, and therefor could not love us. My parents are also difficult people to love. I am often asked if I'm adopted, because I'm nothing like them. I tried for many years to fix my broken relationship with them, but finally resolved myself to the fact I can not fix a relationship when the other person does not see or want to address the dysfunction. So, my parents and I often have a very surface relationship. It is what it is.

For some reason though, I am stuck on trying to save my brother from the pain I see in him. I know as a social worker I can not save somebody from their own pain, but I want to take it away from him so badly.

I want to take care of him, nurture him, look over him, guide him, support him and be there for him in a way my parents are not.

Every time I try, he pushes me away.

I remember getting my hopes up, several times, recently about 2 yrs ago when I found a way to communicate with him that for a time was working. We began to write lengthy emails to eachother, the longest conversations we've ever had. I do not ever remember having a lengthy conversation with him otherwise, and have only spent time with him alone on one occasion when we went to dinner, which was beyond awkward. I started emailing him, and for a brief period, he opened up. I suggested he see a psychiatrist, and that after noticing some patterns in him, and given my background in the mental health field, I thought he may be bi-polar.

To my surprise, he went to a psychiatrist, and my suspicion was unfortunately correct. He was diagnosed with a less severe form of bi-polar disorder. I knew from my work and educational experience that this would mean there was no quick fix, or easy answer. He would have a long road ahead of him. There were options though, and treatment is often very effective.

He began medication, but did not go to counseling, and soon gave up the meds. My hope was short lived. The emails stopped, phone calls ignored again, and soon we were back to where we had been for years.

My brother dropped out of college as an engineering major, has lost most of his friends, doesn't go out socially much, has given up his religion which used to mean so much to him (growing up Catholic, we all joked he would be a priest), has no relationship with his family, and now has just given up the most amazing woman that was in his life when he let Melissa go.

I told myself last year that I would not try anymore with him. I'd continually get hurt, letdown, and miss the relationship I did not have with him even more when I tried than when I did nothing.

I can't say goodbye to my brother though, I don't think I ever will be able to.

I pray for him daily that he will find what fulfills him and brings him joy.

I suggested recently again that maybe he try a new counselor, and that maybe he could find a better fit. He wasn't interested.

I invited him to lunch a few times over the past month. He canceled or didn't have the time.

I ask him to do things with me. He is busy.

I invite him to church, a place he once loved. That's not "him".

I simply try and talk to him, and only get shut out.

What is left for me to do?

I take comfort in knowing that even though I do not know if my brother is still personally close with God, God will take care of him.

Today began and I was doing my usual routine minus the Internet, my brother actually was not on my mind. I began my usual meditation, and began to pray. After praying for quite awhile in silence, I began praying for my brother, and kept praying. I then remembered I had a new Bible I had been saving. I wanted to give it to somebody who was searching, somebody who may want to know God but didn't, somebody that I prayed God could help.

The Bible has sat in a drawer for quite sometime.

I went to that drawer, got it out, opened to one of my favorite passages and read it aloud to myself:

but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
-Isaiah 40:31

As I read this passage, I cried for my brother, my brother I do not know, my brother I so desperately want to see happy. I prayed that he would find comfort in the Lord, where he has never been able to find comfort in anything or anybody else, and that by God's will, he would be graced with a life he never knew like God graced upon me in my darkest of times.

I took the Bible, marked that passage with a pen and bookmarked it, and placed it on my brother's bed as my gift to him. I left it with no expectations, just a prayer that God take care of my brother.

When he came home and saw the Bible, he asked where it was from. I told him I did not know, with a smile. He knew it was from me. I then told him it was his, and he now had a Bible again of his own.

I had prepared myself that he very well may not be ready or open to me reaching out to him again. There is no sweet, perfect ending to this. Later that night I found the Bible I had given him, returned, in my room on my desk.

I have faith that it may not be this week, this month, or even this year, but that my brother will find God when he least expects it, and begin to see the world, and himself in a whole new perspective and light under a God I know loves him so much despite everything, and will continue to love him even if he never does love the Lord back.

God knows my brother, He has found my brother who was never lost to Him. It is my prayer I will one day find and know my little brother, Matt, and that he will find himself, and get to know God once again.


nekrosys said...

This is so strange that you are going through this same thing. I just found out over the weekend that my younger brother is most probably bipolar and an alcoholic. Weird.

rené said...

brave girl. God has something in mind for matt. keep trusting him :)

Jos said...

Psalms 84:4-9

4 You bless everyone
who lives in your house,
and they sing your praises.
5 You bless all who depend
on you for their strength
and all who deeply desire
to visit your temple.
6 When they reach Dry Valley,
springs start flowing,
and the autumn rain fills it
with pools of water.
7 Your people grow stronger,
and you, the God of gods,
will be seen in Zion.

8 LORD God All-Powerful,
the God of Jacob,
please answer my prayer!
9 You are the shield
that protects your people,
and I am your chosen one.
Won't you smile on me?

I don't know you... but I will pray with you!

Kimi said...

I'll keep praying for you and your bro, Lauren...