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If there’s one thing I can point to as proof positive of the mental illness so pervasive from my childhood is the cyclical worry-making that I’m still somehow drawn into by my family-of-origin. All of my siblings are estranged in one way or another. My middle brother has dropped off the radar completely for about a year. He lives in another state, and tends to bounce from place to place and job to job. The last time I heard from him was shortly after my son was born. We traded voicemails, and that was the last I heard from him. My father began to fixate on him not long after, doing his cyclical obsessive behavior to assuage his garbage parenting, as though this 11th hour atonement could somehow make up for years of abuse.

As he is wont to do, my father simply showed up at my brother’s last known residence and job (which is what a stalker would do, lest they be related). As it turns out, my brother hasn’t been seen in months, or at least that’s what he was told. Which, then incurs the phone tree of perpetual stalking, setting off frantic phone call or text message throughout the dysfunctional social network, until it finally reaches me. The last time I caught wind of my father’s scheme to do this, I had still been in contact. But, instead of playing into the crazy-making, I called out my father’s bullshit for what it was, told him to leave my brother alone, and of course that went over like a lead balloon.

Although I was not hearing back from my brother, who was having difficulty dealing with the secret of my son, and being harassed by my family in his own right, I decided to make one last ditch Hail Mary to preserve him one more unexpected drop-in. I left him a message to tell him of my father’s intentions, which did prompt him to text my father to prove he wasn’t dead in a ditch. But all this did was buy him time. I knew that my message was the final bridge burned, participating in the same dysfunctional role I swore never to involve myself in. I’m certain that it would serve more to irritate my brother than help him, and I never heard from him again.

Sad as it is, I regret playing into my parents scheme again, and have not participated since. But as time rolls by, they begin their crazy making again. It began with an unsolicited text message on mother’s day from my father, which got no reply. But I knew that he was off on his tirades again, planning his obsessive plans. It was only a matter of time before he showed up somewhere. Honestly, I’m surprised he didn’t show up on my doorstep.

I don’t know if they ever found my brother or not. And it’s not that I don’t care if they do, but I honestly just don’t want to be part of this anymore. I’ve come to the point where the only way I can have any feeling of normalcy is to divorce myself completely from these people and this behavior. And, though it’s hard for me to throw words around like love, the complicated emotions are clouded by the ongoing and pervasive boundary violations that my family simply is unable to disentangle itself from. They pull this same shit every couple of months, usually around major holidays, and it’s always this huge dysfunctional production. Assuming the worst, and yet, even if it were (god forbid), there’s not a fucking thing they can do about it. If my brother really is dead, in jail or whatever, there’s nothing any of us can do.

Part of me wonders if he’s got his friends to lie for him. (I know I have had in the past.) And honestly, I wouldn’t blame him if he did. I know that he always gets in touch with someone when things are bad, so I have to just let him go until I hear from him. And no amount of crazy-making is going to make me do any different.