My brother beat me as a child. It wasn't sibling rivalry; I never bested him, or even came close. I call it sibling survival. Fighting back just resulted in a worse beating for me. My father thought of himself as a strict disciplinarian, but he wasn't even close. He would come home from a job he hated in the Army to find me beat up and never gave a damn; getting to his liquor cabinet was more important than anything else. If I brought up the issue of my sibling survival or my father's ever-expanding thirst for spirits, my brother would say three magic words: "He provoked me." That was enough for me to get a lashing; If the bruises were small, I might get away with just the belt. If my brother decided to be more liberal with the amount of punishment he dished out or I commented about my father's ever-present inebriation, I would find myself on the wrong end of an extension cord. It was assumed that I would stoically take the lash on my ass, but if I pulled up, the back was fair game to get me back down. My brother got some corporal, but I got a lot more. After a few years of two beatings I didn't deserve instead of the none that the law promised me, I gave up. I managed to maneuver myself into a position where my brother thought of me as an ally against my father. The sibling survival was left alone to fester and occasionally revisit if I made any threats to tell my mom or insisted that I was above beating down any time he damn well pleased.
I've made peace with my brother. He's the only person I've ever known who's allocuted and apologized for what he's done to me. We're on good terms; he's a good friend to me now. My dad had to give up drinking or die early; he chose life. What really infuriated me was the ease with which he gave up the bottle. I grew up assuming that he couldn't stop, that he was a slave to alcohol addiction. Turns out he was just a mean lush. Damn. He could have stopped drinking and administering his brand of punishment any time he pleased. Sometimes if I complained while he lashed me, he would ask me if I thought he enjoyed the lash; I was unsure. I was deluded into thinking the alcohol made him do it, but now I think it was his favorite part of the day. The only time he ever gave a reason for his brutality was a lame attempt at an excuse by claiming my grandfather was even more brutal with him. I asked my aunt about it, and she recoiled in horror; she says nothing ever happened even close to what I went through.
I don't tell this story to get pity, seek revenge, or to simply complain bitterly about my past. I tell this story now to explain my current frame of mind. My brother has a career, a bachelor's degree, a happy life, and is getting married to a wonderful woman. My parents just celebrated their thirty first wedding anniversary, and my father retired from the Army after twenty good years of service. My days and nights are haunted by madness. I'm a headcase, and I've been one for a long time; my situation at home never helped any. Now I've got a materially better life; I'm no longer under the threat of my brother's fists or my father's lash. However, I'm still hurt. The sibling survival and lashes ended when I was sixteen: the same time my psychosis gripped me with no way out. This is what fuels my anger. Just as I began to find a way to live without pain as discipline, and self-loathing weakness revolving around sibling survival, I'm stricken with paranoid schizophrenia. I never had a choice, or a chance in hell. Right now, it seems to me that my life's meaning is pain. If I'm ever in a position to finally enjoy life, my chances for happiness disappear. I went from weaker little brother, to lashed-up victim, to stark raving madman. Growing up, I had a choice of interpretations to explain my struggle: either these horrors were out of my control, or I deserved every last bit of it. The largest part of that choice remains undecided. I still teeter on the head of that emotional pin.
I write to be understood. I hope that someday I'll wake up, and my readers will look at my words without fear, disdain, or pity; I will finally be strong and beautiful. However, this eludes me: my words are weaker and uglier every day I try to write them down. What do I do with my pain? My disease won't let me forget my past; every attempt I make at communication ends in rejection, confusion, and silence. Why bother writing? Every hour I spend writing my poetic missives is one hour my brother spends with the love of his life, and one hour my dad sleeps with a healthy liver. The torture of my words is my bounty for my experience. I'm angry, but it's too early to be tomorrow, and too late to be last night; I'll settle for now.