Letter number 18 is a difficult one. It’s writer will, for obvious reasons, remain anonymous. I am sure this letter writer has taken some time to decide to publish this letter. I think it is a brave, heartfelt letter highlighting something which is still kept hidden in almost every country in the world today.
To My big brother,
You’re without a doubt the best big brother anyone could wish for. You’re hilariously funny, kind and sensitive. You’re the person everyone loves and can talk to so easily, probably the most popular member of our family and our parents’ favourite, although they would never dream of saying such a thing, but if that is the case (which it probably is) I wouldn’t mind at all.
You can walk into a room of strangers and within minutes make friends and have people in fits of laughter. I remember you let me tag along on nights out with your friends and one night as we entered the students’ union bar within a few minutes you were encircled by a huge group of friends. I was in awe of my popular big brother. You’re a very special person, liked and remembered by everyone you meet.
You’ve always been popular with girls never had any shortage of attention in that department. You had quite a few girlfriends and always seemed to be in love or of falling for someone. You’re very handsome and you always attracted other bright, charming stars like yourself.
When you introduced us to your latest girlfriend, everyone was a little taken aback. She was quite different to the type of girl you would normally date. She was serious and seemed to have a hold over you from the very beginning. She challenged each member of our family individually over things and could never seem to bite her bottom lip. We told you, in an admittedly indirect way, that we didn’t like the way she treated you. Everything had to be her way or she would throw an almighty strop. We saw that you were falling in love and she did help you to become more grounded after your wild student days so we left it at that.
We came to accept that she was an argumentative person. She climbed the career ladder and did very well for herself. We hoped her new professional career would make her happy and diffuse what we perceived as frustration and a need to constantly improve herself. There were many jokes over the years; about how you were dominated and some more vulgar jokes regarding parts of the male anatomy and how, some day, she might give them back to you.
Fifteen years on, we have grown accustomed to the workings of your relationship and your domineering wife. If we want to meet you, you will need permission first. If you are allowed to come out, you will have to have finished your chores or else you can’t go. I know this is ridiculous and I feel guilty that we didn’t do or say more, but by this stage you’d had a child together.
In the last 2 or 3 years we have seen a change in you. We have all talked and witnessed the same thing – a light or spark has gone out. You’re quiet, a watered-down version of yourself.
Mum told me how you have arrived on her doorstep late at night on several occasions. Your wife who is supposed to love has locked you out of the house. She is annoyed because she says you are a useless father. The father who baths the kids every night, irons, vacuums, cooks and washes clothes.
Some of us had noticed how she is drinking more heavily and you have said how she is drinking every night of the week. I’d noticed when you visit us, how she drinks wine, refusing to move from her armchair while you read stories and put the kids to bed.
How could she ever call you useless? We see what an amazing father you are, the strong bond you have with your children and how you hold them and look into their eyes with such tenderness. How can she not see what we see? Why is she sabotaging your relationship? We have tried to understand her and explain what she might be going through – her job is too demanding and stressful, maybe she’s depressed and things will hopefully improve.
A few weeks ago mum called me one morning and I could instantly tell she was upset. She said you had appeared on the doorstep late the night before. She had locked you out again, kicked and thrown your belongings out of the house. For me this signalled the end. I was furious that she could treat you this way. Over the next week or more details came out and while we always knew she was difficult to live with, we had no idea how bad things had become. If you don’t keep your belongings tidy, she throws them out the door. You apparently don’t do enough around the house, gardening is not included as that is regarded as purely for fun and not work. Some of the more recent revelations have really frightened me and brought me to tears, because I don’t know what we’re dealing with anymore. One night she locked you out and you had nowhere to go, so you slept in the shed. And there are a few of the awful things she has done. She has called you lazy.
My father’s heart was broken last week when you asked him ‘daddy am I lazy?’ He was furious that her words were beginning to stick.
I’ve heard how she has started to hit you when she becomes frustrated with you. This is the final straw for me. This alone is justification for leaving and never going back. I know I have only heard your side of the story, but I know you and I know her. We all saw it coming. Those relatives who’ve been told are sadly not surprised.
We can see how many sacrifices you have made over the years for your wife. It has all gone too far. We have all encouraged you to leave her, but we appreciate you have three children whom you naturally adore. Please don’t go back to her until she has sought professional help. I have lost all respect for your wife. I used to admire her. Now I think she’s a disgrace, a joke. For now I will pretend she doesn’t exist. I met her briefly last week and I could barely contain myself, so it is for the best. I know you have been feeling depressed and I attribute much of this to your unhappy marriage and how you have been dragged down to believe you are less than you are. You are doing amazingly well and I know that despite her problems and the way she has behaved, you still love her. I think I know what would be for the best, but I know you are sick of talking about it and hearing how angry we are.
I hope she gets the help she needs. If you somehow manage to salvage and rebuild your relationship, and she begins to treat you with respect, I will continue as before and treat her kindly. Whatever happens, I will always worry about you, as I don’t know if you have told us everything that has happened. I know for men, it can be very embarrassing and shameful to be on the receiving end of abuse. I know you were slightly embarrassed when I gave you information about an organisation that helps male victims of abuse.
We love you, we’ll always love you and you have our full support, regardless of whether you decide to continue this relationship or not. Just please make sure that you are continuing it for the right reasons, not just for the kids as they will be better off not witnessing such tension and conflict. Nobody deserves to suffer like this, especially you.
I miss you. I want my big brother back.
Your little sis
*** Have you a letter to someone you would love to write? A first love? A letter to a younger you? Someone you wish to thank? Maybe a confession? Or a letter to someone who has made your life difficult?
I am still taking contributions to this series of letters. Check out the guidelines for submission or just contact me with any queries. You can read previous contributions using the “series of letters” link.