I’m 44 years old.
I feel like I’m 50 a lot of the time as my bones ache. Mostly my heart aches.
That heart ache is mostly from my brother.
He’s the “golden child” and the “family favourite” so he has no idea what it’s like to be disliked, to have to fight for anything, to have to struggle, to have to feel pain – real deep pain that hurts from the very bottom of your guts – that kind. He has no idea what it’s like to starve. To freeze. To be laughed at. To be truly lonely. To ache. To cry out with all your being because you’re so desperate for the pain to end, even just for a minute. Jay has life served to him on a golden platter and lives the life so many of us can dare to dream about.
In the last 10-15 years I’ve started to really resent him. I resent how my parents mollycoddle Jay. I hate how much they celebrate and cherish him while simulaneously finding me lacking. I hate how much he gets away with and how there is ZERO discipline or repercussions from the selfish, narcissistic things he does.
So when I texted Jay on the day our Dad died (and later called him, too) to see if HE was okay, I didn’t expect a reply. After FOUR LONG, PAINFUL YEARS of trying to reach out to Jay and him happily ignoring my existence, I knew not to hope for the text that inevitably didn’t come.
I was right. No text came – so I rang him.
You’ve read my painful blog on how that went. I can’t re-read it without crying every time. It hurts SO MUCH.
A week after Dad died, I texted Jay “You doing ok? Is there anything I can do to help you?“
A week later, I texted again “Hey you, how are you coping?“
A week later I texted AGAIN “Thinking of you – are you doing ok?“
4 Years of this has helped me expect this non response. Okay.
On Father’s day earlier this September, I texted Jay AGAIN “Our 1st Father’s day without him, Jay. I hope you’re okay. I love you“
Did it cost me EVERYTHING I HAD to send that text? Yes. Very much.
That pushed me over the edge.
The next time MOM asked ME what I was doing to make grieving our Dad EASIER ON JAY I lost it. I burst into hurt/frustrated tears and almost screamed “MOM!!! I’m doing EVERYTHING I CAN to reach out to Jay and he never responds!!!”
I think my hurt finally got through to Mom because she asked me to arrange a group family chat today at 1pm. I messaged Kate (Jay’s wife) she said they would be part of it. All okay. Great.
All our faces popped up on the 3-window’ed group chat on Facebook Messenger.
I took deep breaths. I touched the HOSPITAL BRACELET on my wrist with my name, patient details and room number on it, reminding myself to keep as calm as possible because I was ALREADY in a very vulnerable place in hospital. I didn’t want to make myself hurt any more than I had to. I knew what to expect. Mom would praise Jay on every little thing he had done since the last group chat. He would nod and feign humility. I would try my best not to roll my eyes and swallow down the jealousy, hurt and anger from experiencing this ALL. MY. LIFE.
Okay JD, let’s do this.
“Who should go first?” Mom asked. She had her hair down today and it framed her beautiful moon-shaped caramel little face beautifully.
“You, Mom – you asked for this meeting” I said.
Try to smile, JD. Stop frowning at Jay’s image in the corner.
Mom waited. I knew what she was waiting for – she was waiting for JAY to say what was okay and what wasn’t. As if he sensed this, Jay nodded into the camera. He looked tired.
Stop worrying about Jay, he wouldn’t care if you were dead right now. Keep it together, JD. Keep. It. Together.
“OK” Mom chuckled and cleared her throat.
“I had a dream…about…your Dad” she began…and then her beautiful face crumpled and she was crying.
Oh my heart. Oh Mom. Oh how much I want to wrap my arms around you and take that pain away.
“Mom…” was all I could think to say. I looked at Jay. He had angled the camera away from him and towards Kate who was balancing Sebastian on her lap and making him giggle.
“I saw your Dad in my dream” Mom repeated. She sniffed and wiped streams of tears from her face. They kept flowing even so. “He was very, very unhappy and he said it was because you two are not friends anymore – not like you used to be, anyway. Dad said it would put him at ease to know you were friends again – maybe even closer than before. He would like that” Mom cried harder.
My heart was breaking into a million peices.
I didn’t want Dad to be unhappy.
I didn’t want Mom to have to try to mend the huge divide between my brother and I…
…and I hurt most of all because it all depends on Jay. And he DOES NOT want me in his life. AT ALL. To be on group chat was probably the most we could ever expect from him…to be FRIENDS, though? Oh Mom…you may as well as for each of us to please send you a billion dollars. That’s how POSSIBLE being friends is.
As well as being hurt beyond belief by Mom’s near-impossible request, I started to feel the familiar resentment and anger bubble up inside me. I don’t have the control over my emotions I’m used to having because I’m in hospital on suicide watch, so bubble up they did.
“Well you can put yourself AND DAD at ease” Jay sighed. “Janet and I text each other loads and we’re getting along just fine“
Excuse me, WHAT?!?
We text EACH OTHER, do we Jay? Really?
I went from upset-but-able-to-hide-it, to LIVID within milliseconds.
“That’s not necessarily true though” I couldn’t believe I’d spoken up. I don’t usually. This was new.
Everyone stared at me. Even 4-year-old Sebastian stopped playing with his rainbow slinky and looked at the image of the strange woman on his Dad’s phone.
“Yeah” Mom agreed (SHE NEVER AGREES WITH ME WHEN JAY’S INVOLVED so this was new, too) “Janet’s said you’re not responding to texts, Jay – that’s not good, my son”
Even in probably the FIRST reprimand EVER, Mom was incredibly gentle with Jason.
“No no, I’ve responded” Jay said.
AND OF COURSE he sent screenshots to prove he had.
I looked at them bewildered and FURIOUS. Had he manipulated a text screen app to make it look like he’d responded to me?!? How?!?
I felt so ANGRY that Jay had the upper hand AGAIN on something I knew in my very bones to be untrue and unfair that I bit my lip to keep from losing my damn mind and screaming the entire hospital down from the hurt and frustration I was going through.
And yet, there they were – responses to my “are you ok?” “I’m not sleeping well. I’m struggling. Thanks for texting, though – how are you?“
He’d asked how I was?!?
No no no. This wasn’t real. He’s done something to the messages. I never got a response. NEVER in FOUR DAMN YEARS. But here were messages spanning the last 3 months. Returned text messages from Jay. How could this possibly be? My last text to Jay on Father’s Day where I had risked it ALL to text “I love you” to the only person in the world who makes me feel unworthy and unwanted had been responded to with “You too *love heart emoji*”
JAY…LOVES ME BACK?!?
WHAT THE ACTUAL F**K IS GOING ON HERE?
“See Mom? All okay” Jay assured.
Oh F*CK no. You don’t get to be the hero AGAIN, Jay. No no no. That’s not on.
“Anyway, we have to go – we’re taking Seb to a play date” Jay smiled into the camera. Kate waved and Sebastian smiled and waved, blowing raspberries and laughing. My nephew is SO CUTE and I wish I knew him. I wish he knew me.
I wish things were so different.
We all “hung up”
I wasn’t in my right mind. Over 30 years of seeing Jay WIN every single f**king time was making me manic and feel weird. I felt like Jay had gotten someone from IT to help him manufacture fake responses to my lovingly sent texts. Maybe the Mafia were behind it? What kind of connections did my wealthy younger sibling hold???
I felt like I was bordering on madness.
HOW COULD THIS BE?
So I screenshot MY unanswered texts along with Jay’s “answered” ones.
I was OBSESSED with getting to the bottom of this, especially as I felt so foolish in front of Mom – who, for ONCE took MY side and now Jay had walked all over me.
NOT TODAY, bro.
I sent the screenshots to my friend Chris who works in IT and asked if text messages could be manipulated to look as if someone had replied when they hadn’t. Chris said it was a possibility, but such a difficult one to pull off – and that these ones from Jay looked genuine. He suggested that maybe because I had a Samsung and Jay would inevitably have the latest iPhone there might have been a difficulty in sending/recieving texts to/from each other. The network maybe didn’t send Jay’s replies.
I wasn’t having that. That let Jay off the hook way too easily for my liking. I was SO ANGRY. I was running solely on adrenaline by that point.
All that echoed in my mind was Chris messaging that it WAS possible to manipulate texts.
There. See??? Jay did something shady to make me look like an idiot in front of my Mom.
Still vexxed, I sent the screenshots to my friend Sam who is my supporter but also holds a clear head when it comes to emotional things. Sam asked if I had blocked Jay. I had in the past (only to stop the decline in my mental health whenever he DIDN’T respond – which had been FOUR YEARS at that point), but I had unblocked him on the day Dad had died so I could reach out to him. If Jay was STILL BLOCKED, then surely I couldn’t have messaged or called him – and I know for SURE I did both.
My sanity was slipping and my self-doubt was getting comfortable in my brain.
Did I call Jay that day?
I definitely did…I know, because it was SO PAINFUL. Why would I make that up?
Was I going mad? Quite possibly.
I raged for about an hour, dwelling on how unfair it was that Jay ALWAYS wins and feeling more and more upset and unstable that he’d trumped me in front of our grieving, broken Mom. Even then you can’t just let it go, Jay…you have to make me look stupid.
I marinated in my hurt and anger. Nothing made sense.
Sam messaged me saying that if Jay was STILL blocked on my phone, I would still be able to text and call him, he just wouldn’t be able to respond in kind.
That makes NO SENSE. Why BLOCK someone only to text and call them?
Sam said she didn’t understand it either, but repeated that this is how blocking works – it blocks the person from contacting ME but doesn’t prevent me contacting THEM.
This was news to me.
My heart sank.
I looked at my messages to Jay. The red mist had cleared and they now looked normal.
I brought up Jay on my contacts and I nearly died when I recognised the circle with a line through it next to his name and number – the symbol of a “BLOCKED” contact.
In that moment my whole world fell to pieces.
Jay HAD reached back when I reached out.
All this time…
He was right to defend himself. He just wanted to comfort Mom and put her AND Dad at ease today.
I AM THE TOXIC DICKHEAD here.
My natural instinct was to HIDE it. I don’t want to expose my stupid horrible mistake. No way. How can I never speak of this? How can I make sure we all move PAST it and never dwell on it again.
How can I get away with this? Away FROM this?
I was so embarrassed and SO VERY SORRY. Damn it, JD. You f*cked up on this one, kiddo.
I looked at Jay’s responses and tears fell in rivers down my face.
He’d texted back these last 3 months.
HE’D ACTUALLY TEXTED BACK.
Jesus lives in my heart and He helped me painfully, SHAMEFULLY compose an apology message to the group chat.
OH MY GOD IT HURT to admit IT WAS ME THAT WAS SOOO WRONG.
I sent this:
“Really upset and embarrassed to tell the ones I love most but I thought I’d unblocked Jay on my phone the day Dad died. I honestly thought I had, otherwise I wouldn’t have messaged [so much in these past few months]; I was so excited to have communication available again with my little brother. I had a look on my phone earlier and realised I hadn’t taken you off “block”. I honestly didn’t know. So I didn’t get your messages, Jay and I told Mom I was really worried. Please forgive me for my massive f*ck up. I love you and I’m so sorry“
I hit send and I crawled back into the deep, dark hole I have climbed OUT of in the past 3 days. Back down I went. Right to the bottom.
It showed minutes later that Mom, Jay and Kate had ‘read’ it.
Mom wrote one line.
That line broke my heart even more.
“Well there you go” she posted.
To me, it read as: “I knew Jay hadn’t done anything wrong. It’s always you, Janet. YOU ABSOLUTE DICKHEAD. I’m incredibly ashamed of you and I hope you spend the rest of your living days grovelling and making it up to Jay. My poor baby boy. I knew he hadn’t done anything. I knew it!”
I’ve been broken and hurting ever since.
How do I come back from this?