On Monday morning, after my step grandparents left, I was still in my Sunday good mood. I sent my therapist a text telling her that I’m looking forward to our session on Thursday. That I’m having a good day and have high hopes for the week.
Later that afternoon, I went to get something from the store. When I got home I found a note from my younger step brother, with the words “I’m sorry”. I ran through the house, and outside, calling him. But he was gone.
So many thoughts rushed through my mind at that moment. What did that “I’m sorry” mean? “I’m sorry, but I’m running away” or “I’m sorry, but I’m going to jump in front of a bus”? I was panicking. We phoned all of his friends, everyone we could think of, but no one knew where he was. I was terrified.
For a little background, I don’t see him as a step brother. To me, he’s just my little brother. I love him to bits. He’s very quiet and keeps to himself at home. I’m the only one he opens up to. He’s cried to me (he never cries in front of anyone- always appears calm and strong), he’s told me things that he’s never told anyone. He lets me into his heart. So we have a very close relationship. I’m very protective over him. In our session on Thursday, my therapist said that he is my most significant connection, other than ours. And that’s the truth.
When I realized that he wasn’t there, I was heartbroken and confused. Why didn’t he tell me? He’s told me before that he often thinks about running away, and I told him that he should tell me when and if he does. I know I’m not able to change his mind, that I can’t force him to stay. But I would want to know anyway. I would support him any way I could. Such as bringing him clean clothes when he needs them, etc.
I also felt guilty. If I had just come back from the store sooner, or hadn’t left, could I have done something to stop him? Or at least tell him to let me know every day that he’s safe? I could have asked him where he was going, and told him that I wouldn’t tell my dad. I was so angry with myself, but more so, my dad. They say we shouldn’t blame people for things, but I do blame him. He treats my brother like crap, while he puts my step sister up on a golden pedestal. He left because he hates my dad, and I don’t blame him. I wanted to run away so often while growing up (at least the parts of my childhood that I remember).
I just kept thinking what if something happens to him? What if he’s not okay or safe? I wouldn’t even know about it. Would I ever see him again? This situation was made worse due to a previous experience I had. My first step sister who had been in my life for 13 years also ran away from home. And she never came back. I can’t remember if she had left a note. I can’t actually remember anything about that time, other than one moment where I was walking from one classroom to the next at school, and hoping I would see her at school that day. A while after she left, my step mom also left. And I was scared that my current step mother would take her daughter and also disappear. So this all hit a little too close to home. It triggered me. Flashbacks, old emotions, all rushing to the surface, along with all the current feelings. In other words, a huge mess.
During this time, I found myself becoming protective of my step mom and sister. I focused all my attention on them. Doing things for them, being there for whatever they needed and wanted. Which is a pattern in my life. I push myself and my emotions to the side, in order to take care of others. My OT has a good theory about this, which I’ll mention later in this post.
I didn’t want to go to my session with her on Tuesday, and I didn’t want to attend group either. But I decided that it would be better if I do. Even if it was just to get out of the house and away from the heavy, dark energy. I ended up telling my OT about the situation, even though I initially didn’t want to. She was compassionate and supportive. Let me experience the emotions. She told me that my reactions and emotions were valid. She held space for me. She was everything that I needed someone to be during that time.
I told her how I was trying to be as supportive as possible toward my step family. Obviously I can’t remember every word she said, but it came down to this. She said that she was wondering whether my need to take care of others, and be attentive to their needs and emotions, wasn’t because I don’t want to deal with my own emotions. So I take on others emotions, as it’s easier than dealing with my own. I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and looking at previous times in my life where I did the same thing. It makes so much sense, and I think she hit the nail on the head with that one.
After our session, I had a few minutes before group was due to start, and I wondered whether I should stay for it. I figured I was already there, so I might as well. When I saw my roommate from my clinic stay was there, I knew I wanted to stay.
I don’t really open up much in group. When we do the emotional check-ins, I usually just say it’s been an okay week, or not good, but that I don’t want to talk about it, or I just don’t elaborate. But I did this time. I was so emotionally exhausted by that point, that I felt numb. So that made it easier.
A few of the group members came up to me during the break, telling me that it was nice to have me open up. We have a two-week break from group, and I don’t feel too good about that. It’s my time every week to get away from home and meet up with others who “get it”.
Finally, on Wednesday we heard from my brother. He said that he was coming home on Friday. I was worried that he might not come back on Friday. What if he had just said that? But he did come home. When I saw him, I gave him the biggest hug I’ve ever given anyone, and I didn’t want to let go. He looked so happy to see me too, and hugged me again when I finally let go. When everyone was downstairs, he told me what he’d been up to. And while I wasn’t too happy about some of the things (nothing serious), it’s not my job to parent him. He’s his own person. I obviously didn’t show or let him know that I didn’t approve. All I want is to continue being supportive, and someone he can trust and open up to about anything.
I still feel some after effects of the situation. I guess I’m still a little shaken up about it, even though I’m trying to just let it go. It seems my body hasn’t yet gotten the message that everything is okay. I felt very suicidal on Sunday evening. More than I have in months. To the point that I considered going to the hospital. But I made it through. I’m also experiencing the pain of losing my first step family all those years ago. This whole weekend I felt exhausted. No matter how much I slept, my days were spent feeling in a half asleep state. Even today, I feel like night of the walking dead. Today I spent a few hours with Jasmine (which isn’t awkward anymore- thank goodness), and she commented on how tired I look. Usually people can’t see that, so that’s when you know that it’s bad.
I’m really glad that my little brother is back and safe.