November 28, 2005

Aloud

I spent two weeks this August rafting down the Colorado River, running more than 200 rapids, hiking side canyons every day, and sleeping on the river bank under the stars at night. I am not afraid of churning water or rattlesnakes, but on this trip, I did have to deal with my fear of heights. Some of our hikes took me up onto narrow little ledges high above slot canyons, heights that absolutely terrified me. One thing I learned on the trip was to accept the help of the people around me and also to accept my fear, to allow myself to be afraid and just keep moving along a ledge anyhow.

Yesterday morning, I did something even more frightening. Scarier than hiking narrow trails high above a desert, scarier than rafting through twelve-foot waves in a rapid, scarier than the risk of getting caught in a flash flood in a side canyon. It was more terrifying than speaking into a microphone to hundreds of people or going on a radio show or helping someone die or going to see a specialist to see whether or not I had breast cancer. More difficult than hiking up mountains or giving birth.

For first time in eleven years, I talked to my brother alone, just the two of us. My brother is a year younger than me, and he did not speak to me for eight years. Since the death of his wife, I have seen him in group settings but we have not had any meaningful conversation.

Yesterday, I told him my feelings. I said them aloud. I told him that I felt angry, hurt, betrayed, and sad. I told him that more than anything, I felt rejected by the one person whom I thought knew me better than anyone else. I sat at a wooden table at a restaurant, looked across the table at my brother, and told him how I felt.

It was the most difficult thing I have ever done.

48 comments:

Jane Dark said...

I am glad that you felt able to do it.

Nels said...

Good for you!

Running2Ks said...

jo(e) you are my hero.

listmaker said...

Bravo to you for having the courage to do that.

negativecapability said...

Wow. I had been wondering if you had seen your brother over the holiday weekend (or would be in the upcoming season). I'm also glad to hear that you were able to share your feelings, although I can only imagine how difficult it must have been.

Teri said...

Good for you! What courage and strength that must have taken. I hope that it helps you to heal.

Mona Buonanotte said...

How did he react? And what's the next step? Or am I jumping the gun on the next blog post??

Lorna said...

Oh Jo(e) what a breakthrough for you.

Don't worry too much about step 2 (or 22) it's all in God's wonderful hands :)

be so blessed

Friday Mom said...

Damn, that's gutsy! I admire you for standing up to the fear. A milestone of sorts for you too, I think. So, how does it feel? Anything like walking on the ledge?

Deb said...

Like the other commenters said: Wow. Good for you.

And: your post is so beautifully written, as always.

Yankee T said...

I wondered if your hair curtain post was an indication of an encounter with your brother. I'm sure it was difficult, and I hope it was worth it. I'm proud of you.

jo(e) said...

Friday Mom: It felt like I was choosing to deliberately take a step off the ledge. I was so terrified. But I felt better afterwards.

Mona: He was partly silent, and for part of the conversation, angry and defensive, but mostly, I did feel like he was listening to me, and that was the main thing I wanted. I probably won't write a post about his reaction because really, this was more about me getting up the courage to tell him his feelings no matter what his reaction. But the whole thing did go better than I expected.

KLee said...

jo(e) -- bravo for facing your fear. Bravo for telling him how you felt. Even if he got angry, even if he felt ambivalent -- it was important for you to tell him what you are feeling, and have been for all that time.

It's very brave to tackle something like this...something that you both have no desire to do, and something that you *need* to do.

I hope that the experience gave you what you needed.

~profgrrrrl~ said...

Wow. That is awesome that you did that. So important, and I hope healing for you.

As for reactions, I think when we bare ourselves and tell such things to others, the immediate in-the-moment reaction is really just a small part of it. I do hope, however, that his long-term reaction (when it emerges) brings you further healing. And it is wonderful, also, to feel that he heard what you had to say (no matter how he felt about it).

You're an amazing person, jo(e).

bitchphd said...

Good for you.

Rob Helpy-Chalk said...

Good job. Way to go. Your regular readers know what a big deal this is for you.

Ditto what ~profgrrrl~ said, too. What matters is his long term reaction.

Ianqui said...

I can understand wanting to tell us about your bravery, but thanks for telling us about his response too. Your readers want to know what you're dealing with on what's hopefully a road to recovery.

JM said...

good job!

comebacknikki said...

Wow - good for you.

RageyOne said...

Sometimes it is hard to face up to our fears. Good for you for facing yours. :) You should be proud of yourself!

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

You did it, you were courageous, and I couldn't be happier for you. YAY! Congratulations.

Of course I wish for a happy outcome, and healing. XOX Mary

Jane said...

What everyone else said. I hope that this helps both you and your brother move towards a healthier and happier relationship. Thanks for sharing this story with us.

Danny said...

I've been a little behind on my blog reading, and caught up on yours today. Great stuff; thanks for sharing. And I hope you & your brother continue on the path to reconciliation.

reverendmother said...

Wow.

Truth telling can bring its own peculiar vertigo sometimes. Bless you.

ccw said...

Amazing.

Thanks for sharing this moment with us.

Seeking Solace said...

Wow, that is incredible. I admire you for having the courage to say what you felt, no matter the consequence.

I have not spoken to my brother in over a year. He stopped talking to me because I chose to have a relationship with his son who was the product of an affair. I have been afraid to contact him and tell him how I feel, but you have given me inspiration.

You are truly amazing!

Phantom Scribbler said...

Good for you, jo(e).

parodie said...

That is a very big step. I'm glad that you were courageous enough to take it.

Marcia said...

jo(e), good for you. I hope good things come of it for you.

Sue said...

Wow. So incredibly brave. Way to go jo(e)!!

liz said...

That is so amazing. I am so impressed by your courage. And your integrity.

Big, big hugs.

academic coach said...

And I'm so glad that he seemed to listen -- mostly. You've cracked the ice that's been frozen all too long. Whatever his response, it must feel like a relief. We know how often he is on your mind.

Kathryn said...

Coming in late, I am, like everyone else, very proud of you and so glad that you managed to voice your feelings...Praying that this may be a new beginning for you both.

DaniGirl said...

Bravo, jo(e). I don't know much of the back story, but your post is incredibly evocative of what the experience must have been like.

Courage is beautiful.

Mieke said...

Good for you! That took a lot of courage and is hopefully the first step towards healing the relationship you loved so much.

On another note, I find the new print much harder to read and the jumble of the comments IMPOSSIBLE. Is there a way to make the print bigger?

Mieke said...

Actually the best way to read the comments is by clicking on the "comment" button as if I was going to comment each time becuase it seperates all of them.

Hmmmm

halloweenlover said...

Jo(e), I am so happy for you. What an amazing relief it must be to actually have gotten those feelings off of your chest. I am so impressed by your strength, and in the end, I hope your brother was moved by your love. Because really, love is the one thing that you are showing him beyond all else.

Pink Cupcake said...

Wow. I'm so glad you were able to face your fears and speak with your brother at last. That was a huge thing to do. I hope that your brother realizes (or will come to realize) how deeply you care for him and how much the past years have hurt you. In the meantime, I'm just glad you were able to begin to get things off your chest with him. That's very brave.

jo(e) said...

Mieke: I am at the age where I have trouble reading the print on many blogs. But I've found that if I hold down the apple button and the + sign key, it makes everything bigger. My kids' computer, which is a Dell, also has a way to make the print bigger.

Perhaps I ought to fool with my template and make my font just a little bigger ....

jo(e) said...

Oh, and thanks, everyone, for all the nice comments.

susan said...

I hope it's not too late for me to chime in and say what a wonderful, hard thing you did. I hope it pays off in terms of the relationship over time, but it's so good for you that you were able to speak what you needed to say. That's important.

ABDmom said...

WOW. Good for you! I can't imagine how difficult and scary that must have been. But you did it, and you know have the relief of knowing there is nothing unsaid. That is helpful (to me, anyway).

Suzanne said...

How brave. Thank you for sharing this with us.

What Now? said...

I'll just echo everyone else's comments here, but I'm so impressed by your courage in taking what I know was such a big step. How wonderful that you were so brave and that he listened to at least part of what you said.

ppolarbear said...

(o)

Psycho Kitty said...

Oh, Jo(e). Good, good for you. I'm so glad.

Songbird said...

This had to be hard. How wonderful that the river trip was so influential for you and that you found the courage you required.

Rana said...

Good on ya, jo(e).

{{{{jo(e)}}}}