Mostly Harmless?

I talked to my mom the other day.  That’s not unusual.  I love my mom, not just as a mother.  She’s a good listener and a good friend, I think she feels the same way about me.  We went through the pleasantries.  She thanks me again for her Christmas gifts.  She asks about my travels and my work.  My dad is good, his medication is expensive.  The rest of the family is good.  We talk about her sister some, and that’s a whole issue itself.  My mom’s sister, my aunt, is lovable and neurotic.  Eventually things drift to my brother, as they often do.

Greg, my brother, will be 20 soon.  Greg has never worked, and didn’t finish high school.  He did get a GED.  He still lives with my parents.  He sleeps most days from around 10 am to 5 or 6 pm; he spends his time awake alone, in his room.  Greg spends most of his time on the computer, no one knows what he is doing.  His interest in gaming seems to have waned a few years ago.  Greg showers once or twice a week, hasn’t had a hair cut in years, doesn’t shave, and has never flushed a toilet to my knowledge.  Greg doesn’t interact with others unless he has to, and it doesn’t go smoothly.  His speech patterns are strange, erratic.  His volume and pitch change randomly.  Sometimes he is able to stick to a line of conversation, sometimes he goes on wild tangents.

Greg has always been interesting.  He was born screaming, and he didn’t stop until he could talk.  I’m 8 years older, I remember most of it, he was difficult.  He screamed, and screamed, and nodded off for 15 minutes, and screamed.  My parents tried different formulas, different schedules, ignoring him, strapping him to them, and anything and everything anyone suggested.  Still Greg screamed.  I couldn’t sleep, my grades slipped from super star to average, and I started falling asleep in class.  My teachers thought I was being abused or on drugs.  Greg started hitting and biting and soon as he was able.   He was threatening as soon as he could form thoughts.  We kept knives in a tool box.  Some days, every chair in the house would be in the yard and we’d all be locked in the house, at war.  When things got ugly, weapons had to be removed.  If you took something away from Greg, it had to be AWAY.  Rules didn’t work, scolding didn’t work.  There were chain locks at the very top of exterior doors, to slow him down.  He has choked me with a table cloth.  I had 8 stitches in my head from a remote caddy he threw at me.  My childhood medical record is extensive, and yes, CPS investigated our home.  I’m not sure why they opted to do nothing, but they found my brother to be the source of my injuries, and his own, and left us alone.

I moved out at 16, my brother was 8.  He did not improve.  He got in trouble at school for fighting, for cursing, for not doing his work, for turning in violent work.  Greg went to alternative schools, and was in behaviorally and emotionally disabled classes.  Greg took medication, and went to therapy.  Greg hit a police officer in the face when he was in high school.  Greg has attempted suicide, been institutionalized, and totaled my parents car while running away to meet someone he’d met online.  Greg has had a list of diagnosis longer than my arm, and none of them fit, and none of the medication worked.  Nothing ever worked, no one could ever help.

My mother and I have always disagreed about Greg.  Maybe it was watching knives come through my bedroom door, or watching a child blow through it with all his might, but I lost hope for him.  I believe he is dangerous, and that he needs help before anyone is hurt.  I see a darkness that is bottomless, I see how he doesn’t care for any of us, not even his family.  He scares me, he always has.  My poor mom, she sees her baby.  I can’t imagine how she’s seen all the things he’s done and still believes it, but my mother tells me that he’s mostly harmless.  I look at the scar from where he broke a glass and sliced my arm.  No stitches, no one is home to take me to the hospital.  Duct tape works.  I was 14, he was 6.  I wanted to watch MTV, he did not.  I shake my head, I tell my mom I love her.  When we hang up, I just wish I could fix it for her.

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