There had been a peace in his finally attacking me. Two decades later, I could stop being scared. He was finally going to kill me which meant that it was finally going to be over. Finally. Well, to my surprise he didn’t. Instead it just got worse.
Let’s take a few steps back…
I told my parents on a video chat on May 11 2020, two days after the second time I had been cutting, that I was looking into counseling for domestic abuse. My wasp of a mother’s response? To get mad and walk away saying she was going to brush her hair. Literally. Wasn’t that the biggest blow-off line of the 1050’s? Oh wait, that’s washing the hair. Worst part was, it’s what I expected.
The reason I said what I had, besides hoping for the support I knew I wasn’t going to get, was because of how much she was adamantly agreeing that I shouldn’t go to their property anymore after Dad had said something about me going over when I was back in the US. As if she didn’t have anything to do with it. As if she hadn’t ignore my pleas for years for help. As if she hadn’t seen it first-hand once moving in with him in Southern California, putting me in worse danger by buying a property with him after he had burned her and the rest of the family with lies about providing a place for them to stay while looking for their own property. That was more my sister’s doing, though. Either way, I ended up once again estranged from my family, that time for being in danger from my brother. Him? An amazing property was presented at his feet to buy into along with live-in people to co-parent his daughter, watch his dogs, enable his behavior and a sister to make his hard life decisions. In other words, he was rewarded.
From what I can remember, I’ve only cut three times in my life. Two being recent and all because of him. There’s always underlying factors, of course, but it was the bullseye for that particular part. The first time had been long ago, back on October 31 2007, when I had just found out about having the cold sore virus. Thank God I was educated about it being pretty normal and not the biggest deal in the world. Then there was how I was about to lose everything due to my industry crumbling and friends being MIA while telling me I was being dramatic. Also his running out on me every time things got heavy. An extra blow given that I had taken him in and he was living with me, having his girlfriend live there part time as well. More than anything, I was scared of him. Really scared. I’d never heard the details of what a ride from hell being scared of someone over a period of time was psychologically and man was it rough.
Besides being a PTSD marine, we have a chemical imbalance in our family that hit him the worst. A shocker to the rest of our family who had labeled me as the bad one and him barely on the radar before they were actually around to observe our behaviors. His cycles were extreme, ranging between the sweetest, most loving and attentive guy to violent and disconnected from reality, focusing his rage on the women closest to him. Especially me. Was it because I violently bullied him and my sister when we were kids? Because I triggered his time in the Marines since we went through it together? My personality and lifestyle in general? I had my hunches but didn’t know for sure. What I had observed as I had gotten older, though, was that the answer almost always seemed to be all of the above.
Whatever the reason, the situation was still the same. I had been haunted for most of my time as an adult by feeling like my life was in danger. It was a small percent of the time that I felt like that but still enough to mess with me. Especially the instability of the cycle. Making it even more confusing, I was under the impression that he didn’t even remember the few hours when he would totally snap. I never stuck around long enough to find out though.
OCTOBER 31 2007
It was a lifetime ago and a lot of it is hazy, but not the way I felt the first time I cut. It was Halloween and I was at the peak of feeling betrayed and devastated about ending up alone when things were falling apart. I worked in the subprime mortgage industry so the recession hit me before anyone in my circle with three offices I worked at closing within a month and a half of each other. Coming home from being out along that night in my orange silk dress and black witch hat, I walked in to find my brother lost all the way down in the darkness. He paced back and forth a million miles from reality, spinning out as he tried to stop all the violence running through him. It was the devil taking over. His being in that state meant that he had been going dark for weeks, me being increasingly scared of him and walking on eggshells while feeling like I was screwing up somehow.
He had never actually gotten physically violent but I could feel his rage. It was so often only one step away. Like when I had called a friend in the middle of the night, terrified as I walked as fast as I could in front of him, thinking that it would trigger him if I started running and he would come after me. Or when he came home on the 5th of July after being MIA all night after I had watched him, while being held back, getting the crap beat out of him in a huge brawl he had started with a bunch of hippies over President Bush. I’m pretty sure I even saw golf clubs coming down on him. When he reappeared that next morning, his face was bashed to shit and he was showing signs of a concussion. I was too scared to show how upset I was, though, because I thought it would trigger him to turn that madness toward me. But no, he had never actually gotten violent with me as an adult. As far as I could remember, not more than manhandling. In a way, I wished he would. I was so sick of being scared. Threatened. Feeling like I was walking a tightrope every time he went dark. It took away all my power and make my own sanity started to fray. My ability to trust anything. Everything felt dangerous.
I remember some things so clearly but not exactly what I said the night of that Halloween. I just remember that I didn’t have it in me to be scared of him anymore. Not then. Not with everything else going on. I was angry, resentful and sick of it. I snapped. Screaming at him as soon as I saw him in that state, I grabbed a knife and half went at him somewhere in between turning it on myself. I wasn’t trying to kill myself. I knew the way to do that was to slice up vertically along with the vein. Even so, I got closer than I like to think about.
A warrior of chaos raged through me and I was desperately grabbing at any way I could find to fight back. The first time I sliced my arm, it wasn’t too deep. A little worried and surprised, he reacted. He ACTUALLY reacted. I had been the only one who could get to him when he had gone dark in the past but it had been a long time. All of the sudden, there he was again. It felt good. Healing. And it was my turn to scream inside.
Then I sliced again, at some point ripping my dress and rubbing the blood all over me, wailing about how I wouldn’t let him destroy me, I’d destroy myself first. Asking him if that was what he wanted. I don’t remember the exact words but it was all in theme.
There were three cuts in total. The third was really deep. Deeper than I meant it to be. Not that I meant for any of it to happen. I was in survival mode and acting on primal reaction. I didn’t know what I was doing. It shocked me once I could grasp what had happened later on just as it would later in life. When that third slice went in, I knew it was too deep. It felt numb instead of painful. I couldn’t really feel at that point anyway, not in the normal way, but there was some kind of internal alarm that went off.
At some point he tried to restrain me. Maybe when I finally froze for a second. I was wearing out. Depleted. It was my dog, though, who really snapped me out of it. I remember looking over at her on the couch and she was scared. My girl was so scared. I was scaring her. That’s when I really stopped. Fade to black.
I went to my friend’s house the next day in shock. The last slash in my arm needed stitches but none of us pushed for me to go to the hospital. Out of all people, going to them would haunt me maybe forever. My buddy’s mom had committed suicide not too long before and there I was showing up with a meaty gash in my arm after a meltdown. I hadn’t even thought about the impact it could have on him. So fucking selfish. Ironically, hypocritically, strangely, he would be the one years later to defend my brother while discrediting my feelings by mansplaining in a way that made me feel like I was being dramatic when I was expressing, not even to him, being scared. Even when I was frantically saying over and over that my brother would validate my feelings once he was back in the light. He wouldn’t even listen.
Weeks after it was over and I was back in the Bay once I had physically lost everything, Bro went to jail for trying to murder two or three college guys. The police report showed a door with more slab marks than I could could covered in his own blood.
Years passed. We tried off and on to be in each other’s life but it never lasted long. Seeing him less than a handful of times a year, I was in the habit of staying away by the time the rest of our family moved to San Diego. If it wasn’t for my niece, I probably would have all together. It hurt but it was better.
It was a long time until the next big event. The night before I left for my solo 40th birthday trip to Costa Rica, actually. I don’t remember the reason it went down, not that it mattered much. He was still just a ticking time bomb once going to the dark side.
I had been going to spend the night at my parent’s house on the family property so I could hang with them before leaving. I always had a fear about my father’s health right before I left the country because of an experience back in 2005 when I had come home from Europe to his being in the hospital for the first time I knew of with what was to become permanent health problems. My brother had been the one to pick me up instead of Dad and was hostile about my flight being late, refusing to tell me about anything that was going on. Instead of the planned slumber party that night before Costa Rica, I had ended up being booted after he had been sending threats to the rest of the family about me on his way home from work. If I’m remembering right, he was (ironically) still a nurse in the psych ward of the VA. Tying to give orders to the whole family as though he were king of the property, a pattern for him, the last text I got from him after ignoring anything before was “see you soon :)”. It wasn’t meant to be nice.
After so many years of dealing with it, I knew there was no reasoning with him because there was no external reason for his madness. It wasn’t about me and he had nothing to do with my spending time with our parents. Even so, I ended up locked in their spare room with our time flushed down the shitter anyway. The whole family was terrified and our parents thinking about changing their locks. Not wanting them continue to get so upset from my battle, I let go of my stubbornness and gave into our mom wanting me to leave right before he got there. I ended up on the street trying figure out a place to go last minute instead of sleeping. Thanks for the great 40th birthday memories, bro.
Oddly enough, the next time was again the night before I was leaving the country and when I was once again at the family estate to spend the night. Coronavirus was just about to hit the US hard and I was leaving for at least a year to teach in S Korea the next morning. That meant I was extra worried about my pop. After it happened I wondered if my going overseas was somehow triggering my brother. Whatever the reason, I was more caught off-guard than before because I hadn’t even been in the same room as him until it went down. It was also the time when, after two decades of being scared, he put his hands on me enough to cross the line into physical abuse.
Noticeably struggling to get all my luggage out of the car on the evening of the night before I left, he drove by with a small wave and pulled into the garage without offering to help. He even shut the door before I could walk up. Whatever. Our sis and I teased him a little after I had struggled my way in to which he responded by following me around threateningly blowing on the back of my head. It was weird. Kind of playful but more aggressive. I continued doing what I did when he was in that dark state after that. Avoiding eye contact and disconnecting. Maybe that in itself was a trigger. The lack of reaction being an enraging challenge like a wild animal who saw it as hostile. Taking away his power was no doubt a trigger. Confronting him would have been worse, though. There just wasn’t a right answer. I was so used to detaching when he was like that, I hadn’t even noticed when he started arguing with the rest of the family about what I didn’t know or care about as I played with my niece, his daughter, in another next room instead of the initial reason I had gone in there, to reorganize my luggage. Showing her how to braid play-doh after video-chatting with Kati, besides the unsettling feeling of knowing he was in the dark part of his cycle, I didn’t think anything of what was going on until LanaBell walked by the door and all of the sudden became less engaged. Even a little bummed. That pissed me off. My niece being familiar enough with his aggression to instantly disconnect and get sad. It was going to be interesting to see what she thought of men and what she thought was normal. Trying to get her attention back to keep playing, I was confused when my mom came in aggravated a moment later, directing that energy at me while saying that we should go to her and my dad’s house next door. Finally realizing that they had been arguing about me, I was made to once again feel like I wasn’t really a part of the family. At least they seemed to be sticking up for me for once, though. Still, I was pissed and just wanted to go home.
Storming through the kitchen into the family room to grab my sweater and leave, I venomously snapped at him saying “you just can’t help yourself, can you”. It’s easy to say that I shouldn’t have antagonized him but guess what. I had been his victim for way too long and wasn’t going to cower in fear anymore. I constantly joked with my sister that it was her turn, though it was sad how true that really was. I was done and would be damned if I wasn’t going to stick up for myself. I was sick of cowering. Fuck him. FUCK HIM!
The next few minutes were a blur. I remember him saying “fuck you, bitch!” and me pausing for a moment staring at him defiantly, refusing to run as I started to turn to leave. Staring at me with a wild violence in his eyes, he jumped over the couch to where I was standing next to our seated dad and put me in a headlock. Hearing our mom and sister screaming at him, I could see Wendy out of the corner of my eye trying to pull him off while I frantically tried to hit him in the ribs to get him to let me go. When that wasn’t working, I dropped to the floor. That worked. At least to the point of snapping him out of it enough to let me go.
There was a surprise element to it but I hadn’t really been all that stunned that he attacked me over all. What did surprise me was that he didn’t kill me. I always thought he would when he finally got physical. It hadn’t even felt like a possibility that he might not until I was there in it. As time had slowed down, scenarios started darting through my head about how, if he busted my head up but didn’t actually kill me, it was going to fuck up my leaving the next day. What was I going to tell the school? I couldn’t tell them the truth. I’d probably lose the job anyway so I needed to re-strategize a plan if I survived. Even in those few moments that both moved at lightening speed and stood still, I was laughing at the irony of living through the autoimmune disorder a few months before just to be ended like that. All those thoughts while I struggled, waiting to see what the final result was going to be.
LanaBell saw it all. Her mom later told me that she cried the next couple of nights until I sent her a video from Japan. Our mom seemed to hold it together, as she always seemed to do best during the worst times, but Wendy seemed pretty traumatized. Her reaction once again reminded me of how the whole thing would impact me when I was just a few years into his behavior.
As I made my way to the phone to call 911, shaking by then and half-expecting him to attack once he realized what I was doing, Wendy and Mom then came with me outside to wait. Pissing me off, Mom dragged some of my bags without waiting even a moment while Wendy sat there trying unsuccessfully to calm herself. Finally getting her to go inside to relax, Mom stayed with me. It was pretty surprising, actually, that she didn’t fight me on calling the cops. More surprising that she gave her own statement. Of course including how Sean and I had a history as if that should play a role in a man getting violent with a woman. Still, it was more than I expected.
Playing their part to fit right into the negative stereotype of cops, I was frustrated with myself for not recording the behavior of the officers as they made me feel more victimized by being short and acting like I was wasting their time. All of the sudden I was defending my being at the property to see my dad, maybe the last time, instead of staying away. A classic case of victim-blaming, I later sat there frozen as scenarios ran through my head like treating a drunk woman in a short skirt as if being raped was her fault. Still going back and forth between their asking what I wanted them to do and my response continually being that I needed to be informed of my options, I finally filed a battery report. I had been victimized by him for years and just wanted something on record in case anything else happened. He had gotten away with shit for years and, while I told them I didn’t want him arrested, he wasn’t totally getting off the hook. For myself but also for LanaBell’s sake. And all other women out there who were victimized in general without anyone doing something about it.
I texted Alana’s mom to pick her up after that. Wendy was usually the one to parent her but she was super shaken up and LanaBell had just watched her father become a monster who went after the auntie she had been playing with. Alana probably needed her mom. I also sent a PM to the woman who had just temporarily broken up with by brother to tell/warn her. I was always worried about women who dated him and she had recently lost her mom so I was even more about her. Besides not wanting her to walk back into that, I needed camaraderie from the other women had most likely gone through some version of it. Not to mention just being a bit salty.
A few days later, I’d find out that social services went to their house to talk to my bro and niece for what we would figure was probably based on my battery complaint. It was a good thing I was gone or I would have been high-tailing it back to Nor Cal in fear.
So yeah. I left the country for what was planned to be at least a year knowing that the last time I may ever see my dad would be when he watched my brother attack me. And how my family put me in the situation by buying a property with him for what was supposed to be a temporary situation. I had always known that was BS. Anyway, I had to process all of that at the same time as I was trying to cope with the impact of ITP, relationships blowing up and starting a new career in a new country with no support that came with a lost minute unpaid quarantine right when Covid was hitting home. It wasn’t good but there had been a peace in his finally attacking me. Two decades later, I could stop being scared. He was finally going to kill me which meant that it was finally going to be over. Finally. Well, to my surprise he didn’t. Instead it just got worse.
It was too much…too hard. I desperately needed help and support. There was nowhere for my fragmented thoughts and feelings to go. At least not at the level I needed. I was so lost and in so much pain with no way to scream. To get it out. Instead things just got harder. So, not even knowing what I was doing, I cut again for the second time in 13 years. To experience on the outside what was on the in. Because I had no other way to get it out. I didn’t know what I was doing, though. Looking at it after, I was in shock. That’s why I took pictures. That and because I wanted to find someone…a way to get help. But there was no one. So then a few days later, I cut again.
A therapist once pointed out to me that “hate” is a strong word. Ever since then, I don’t like to use it, so it says a lot to me when I say how much I hate the way people vilify each other. We can all be the bad guy if you catch us at the wrong time, myself being far from the exception. It would be easy to do that to him but the truth is he’s not a monster in his heart. This thing is a monster. A big one.
While I’m not going to say that I’m one of the lucky ones outright, I am in that when he’s back in the light, he had validated and backed me up with it all a couple times in the past. There’s closure in that. A way to stop getting even more messed up. Especially when others are discrediting or being unsupportive.
When I fantasize about what’s to come, I hope for him to find the right help and sticking with it. Even beyond that, to become an advocate to help and inform others. His good side is great. Even if I ended up never seeing him again, I’ll still love him.
After about a month, I was able to put it to rest. At least enough to be able to function without worry. Process, hurt and start looking into help. My brother was even back in his sweet and loving mode so I told him as a sort of closure. I was still tripped out though. I didn’t understand how my head was so messed up from the abuse thing in a different way than anything else I had experienced. I’d dealt with hard situations my whole life. Nothing else lead to that. So here I am in this blog post, fighting for myself and everyone else out there. Someone who may be you.