Bitter Truth

All my life I've supported my oldest brother. When I was a kid he was my best friend. When he joined the Marines I was proud of him. When he got married I cried tears of joy. When he got divorced I cried again. When he fell into the bottle, I was sad. When he admitted himself into the alcohol and chemical dependency unit of the Veterans Hospital I was thankful. Throughout his sobriety I have been as loving and supportive as I can be.

He is my brother. We share the same blood. And I love him.

Recent discoveries have brought me to a point of confusion and rocked my view of him. I will not go into them here, but they have brought things to the surface that have been long kept buried.

He joined the Marines when he was only 17 years old. He had to get special permission from our parents to do so. He went through basic training and came back strong, lean and tanned, as all Marines do. He had a confidence I'd never seen in him before.

He got his MOS (Military Occupational Specialty -- "job" to you and me) and was stationed in San Diego doing warehouse stuff. Seems like a pretty skate job to me, but he hated every second of it. He hated the place, he hated his job, he hated his superiors and he hated the Marine Corps. Every time he called home he cried to mom & dad to get him out. My dad finally contacted our senator, Dave Durenberger to see what he could do. The Honorable Mr. Durenberger was able to get my brother Honorably Discharged after only about 2 years of service out of a 4 year commitment.

He never talked proudly of his time in the service, but he still called himself a Marine. I guess they all do, you could talk to a WWII vet and he'd still say, "I am a Marine," and not, "I was a Marine." They do a good job of brain washing that into their inductees and volunteers. "Gung ho!" is what it's all about. But my perception is that he tended to ignore his service and tried to put as much distance between himself and it as he possibly could. Until he admitted himself to the hospital. Until he needed them again.

Since then he has re-embraced his Marine-inity with the gusto of a born again Christian. (In fact, he became a Christian while going through AA, replacing his brilliant skeptecism with a dependence on the Holy Trinity.) He proudly joins Marine related online forums, wears clothes with the Marine Corps emblem emblazoned on them, and he has the seriously disturbing practice of traveling with his medals, which amount to a service ribbon (you get one for joining), his shooting badge from basic training (rifle marksman), and the unofficial Cold War Victory ribbon.

And all I can think of whenever I see any of this is, "Dude, you fucking quit. And that's the bitter truth."

I got an email from him this week saying, in essence...

I am no longer going to be online, I am not longer going to answer phone calls, I am no longer going to answer letters. I am tired of checking my inbox and seeing it empty day after day.

He forgets that people have lives outside of his personal space. I am so pissed at him because it is so typical of him. Shit, he even forgets that tenet of military life, "You gotta write 'em to get 'em."

Fine, pal, take your ball and go home. I'm tired of playing. I'm tired of being supportive. I'm tired of crying. I'm tired of trying.

But you can still have one of my kidneys if you need it.

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Cari said…
I know how much you love him, Muggsy.
Gretchen said…
I'm sorry, Muggsy. Family can be the best, and it can also tear you to pieces. We should talk sometime, maybe.
Or maybe not, I guess.
I understand, I would help if I could (if I can...). But perhaps sharing stories doesn't really help in the long run.
But, from experience, I know that this can all change again, expecially if we're talking about someone with addiction issues. It's OK to back off, get some distance. Sometimes it's the only option. Don't write him off, necessarily, just back away for a while. You'll always love him, and he knows that. And your pain can't decrease his...
Mike Sawin said…
I'm sorry as well. There have been times I had to do the very same thing with members of my family.

It's a healthy but difficult choice.

I will say that I have since reconciled with some of them, so it may work out for you too.
BlogIrony said…
It's tough when one's sense of indentity comes from the outside. We are all that way to a certain extent. It's part of the mask we all wear because we care about our "image". Thanks for being real and speaking your heart about this, Mugsy. I find that the one place I can't wear my mask is deep down in my being. The place where my finite meets the infinite. But then, I'm nuts : )
Unknown said…
It is what it is. I deal with those realities the way I need to and have for years. You need to find a way to either put it in a box and put it away like I did - or face it in some other fashion. But only you can decide how you do it. If you confront it, it will be the usual revisionist history that we both know all too well. I don't know if it's even worth the effort of confrontation. Only you can decide if you need to take that route - if it serves a purpose or not.

I don't want to be the source of strife or sadness which is why it's been boxed away for years. I knew this would happen - the Pandora's box story. I regret opening it many days, but am relieved by it as well. Knowing I'm not alone in it anymore is a good thing for me, but a crappy thing for you and FB. Maybe that is why I could see so clearly for years all those things you wrote of realizing recently.

I love you and care deeply for you. I never, ever wanted to hurt you and I hope you know that.

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