I can admit when I have misjudged a situation or a person. I can admit when the fault is mine, or when I have hurt someone. I've learned that sometimes, it's just what you have to do, even if it means taking an ego hit. Even if it means telling someone they were right when you desperately wanted to prove them wrong.
And I was wrong this time.
The Brother busted into our life at the beginning of July. Essentially, for the last two years he has bounced around my parents church, terrible friends, bad grades, making awful decisions, and just simply getting into trouble every way. To say he is lost is an understatement. I'm pretty sure he has no idea who he is, and I am sure he has terrible self-esteem- a dreadful combination. That being said, I know the home he lived in, I had to leave when I was 16. I get that aspect of it better than anyone else. Despite what my parents claim are reasonable rules, more often then not, there is an iron fist waiting to slam down on you when you make a mistake, or in my case, when it was rumored that you made a mistake. So we opted to take a gamble on him, and give him an opportunity to clear his slate.
So I get it. I know what it's like to be a teen in that house and feel completely suffocated by rules and expectations, not to mention the abuse that went on for me personally. It was not fun. It was no surprise that he wanted out, or was kicked out. I predicted it would happen, actually.
When The Brother arrived, we set a couple of rules. We talked about expectations. We told him what we would and wouldn't do. We told him that respect and honesty was key in our house, and that we expected him to treat us accordingly. We in turn would do the same.
That's when the "fun" began.
In the first week he was here, he met a random girl on the internet at midnight, in a bad part of town. He walked there on his own, didn't tell anyone where he was going. Essentially, he snuck out. I found out, of course. Because, I'm the queen of knowing how all the rules bend as a teen.
In that same week, he met more people on social networking sites that I had told him he could not use because I severely questioned his judgment based on past history. My main concern was for the safety of my own children, both of whom he had no consideration for while he stayed here. He lied to me about said encounters, until he finally admitted that I had caught him in the act.
Another instance when we were out at the beach for family time, he mooched a smoke off a friend who was there, while spending the entire time on his phone telling a girl he was going to kill himself because it was funny, and it would get her to care about him.
The next week, he got a job and it was dull in his world. He ate a lot of food, complained a lot. You know, normal teenage stuff.
Then one day he stayed out all night, without telling us. I woke up to see a text at 4am, saying he was staying out. When he had gone out, he had told me he would be home at 10:30, then it was 11:30, then it was 12:00 then it was silent from him. The Hubby and I assumed blame for this one thinking we did not tell him clearly enough what was expected, so we sat The Brother down, gave him an actual curfew because he had proved he couldn't be responsible with coming home at a reasonable time.
The day after we had that talk and set his curfew for 1am, he texted me from a friends house at 12:45 and asked to stay out until 2am. I told him no way. He came home 10 minutes late.
Beyond that, he constant broke his curfew in every which way. He never came in on time. He never came home early. It was always 10-60 minutes later. When I would call him on it, he'd tell me to chill out.
Then, one day, I went to add the Scotiabank app on his phone for him because he claimed to not know how. When I went to download it, I noticed he had his friend's information in the iTunes account, which set off alarm bells for me. So I quickly browsed his phone. I found app after app that were strictly for the purpose of meeting people; in those apps I found records of him having cyber sex. He grabbed the phone from me and began deleting apps. I was so stunned that I couldn't even form words to say to him. He sat in front of me, telling me he wasn't deleting apps, smirking at me as I'm sure I looked like a complete fool trying to figure out what to say to him.
That night, I turned off the wi-fi until we could figure out how to monitor him better. He couldn't tell me why he needed those sites, instead yelling at me that I just didn't understand. I tried, he refused to help me. Within two hours he freaked at me, yelled at me, and called me names. All because I removed the internet. He didn't believe he deserved a consequence, his actions had not impacted us, he said. I was being ridiculous and all of a sudden my parents, were angels who would let him use these sites. A lie, which I later verified with my sister.
Another night, he came home in a huff because the girl he had gotten pregnant apparently had jumped off a cliff in Edmonton, and her mom texted to tell him. When I suggested he wait to verify the news, because the whole situation sounded fishy, he yelled at me for not being sensitive. I finally made him call the girl, who picked up, and pretended to not know him. He never apologized or thanked me for showing him that he was being the butt of some sick joke. According to him, I was still insensitive.
Just last week, he came home early one morning after a sleepover to tell me that he had gotten into trouble with the cops. I listened. I reserved any judgment. I waited until he was done. His friend had stolen a car, without a license and they were pulled over for stunting. I was shocked yet not entirely surprised. He knew the car was stolen when he got in. He knew the kid didn't have a license. And he still got in the car. He went on to tell me this same kid had stolen his parent's vehicle the night before, and that his dad was a pot dealer and grower. My jaw dropped when he told me that this kid "made a mistake" and was officially now his "bro".
We told him he could have no sleepovers for a week because of this incident. He thought because he had told the truth that we would exempt him from any consequence. Perhaps if he had shown remorse, or concern about this "friend", we would have considered, but even with our gentle nudging, he was so sure his friend was the victim and none of them had really done anything wrong because they didn't get charged. So consequence it was.
Then, we have Wednesday night. I noticed some money was gone from my purse. I noticed that we were missing condoms. I double checked, re-checked, and asked The Hubby. He had not taken anything. So I asked The Brother to tell me why he had been in my purse and why he was stealing fro us when we had offered him so much. All I wanted was an admittance and an apology. He freaked out, yelled at me. He went on to say he'd never lied, never complained, and I was "always accusing him". I apologized to him if he felt like I was wrongly accusing, but he kept going. I told him that given his history I made an assumption. I apologized if it was wrong and said we could talk about it later.
The next morning I got a text saying he was moving back to Edmonton. So I called my parents. I informed them of all the blanks he was purposely leaving out, and told them that while it was up to them, that he had not changed in any way since they kicked him out. I also found out that he lied to us about that. My parents had offered him a set of rules and he refused them. My dad told him that his only other option was to leave, and when asked where to go, my dad suggested the youth shelter.
By the time I went to work, The Brother was in his room, the room we'd moved around so he could have his own space, packing his things up. He refused to talk to any of us, including the kids. And then he left as quickly as he came, leaving a trail of destruction in his wake. On Facebook, he told everyone that "shit went down with his sister". He was telling people we kicked him out, which is not true. I only told him that he could leave on his own terms and that it was no skin off my back. When he became more arrogant, I told him I needed our key back and that we would arrange for pick up for his things, or he could come get them immediately.
All of that in a month and a half. And I am not even including all of the indiscretions and annoyances we dealt with, because I understand to a degree that teenagers are not the most friendliest of creatures. I remember being one of those mythical teenage creatures.
Here's where I say I am wrong. This doesn't happen very often.
Yes, I intrinsically disagree with the way my parents choose to parent. I am disgusted with the abuse I suffered at their hands and how they have avoided taking responsibility for the long term effects on me as their daughter. I disagree with them on many political and social views. I find much issue with their religion and how they practice it. In regard to my relationship and history with them, I have mounds of issues that could take more than a lifetime to overcome.
However. I get their sheer frustration with The Brother. I get how exhausting it is to constantly be dealing with nonsensical drama that is created by the same person, over and over again. I get how demoralizing it is to move mountains for a person who doesn't show appreciation or thanks, in fact, expects and demands it with an arrogance that could burn a casserole. I now see how they were at the end of the rope with The Brother and his shenanigans. I understand how they felt better when he was gone, and I assume they felt the same guilt when an amazing sense of relief washed over them. You shouldn't be relieved when someone you love leaves. But when he was gone, I did. He was chaos wrapped up in more chaos, with no realization for how his moods or how his actions impact anyone else.
Nor did he care.
I also understand that sometimes, you have to let a person do what they think is best, even when you can already see the outcome before they've begun their journey. Sometimes, you have to do that with friends you love, and sometimes, even family. Sometimes, the best thing you can do for that person you love is to let go.
So I was wrong. Yes, I have my own demons to battle with my parents, but I understand that they were at the end of their rope, out of resources and ideas to get through to their child. Maybe they could have stayed in it, and continued to deal with the bad attitude and constant charades, but maybe they knew that pushing him out on his own would be the best lesson for him. Maybe.
That's the conclusion I came to yesterday. He needs to see what he had, and all that he's lost with the bridges he's burned, to realize his life is not as tough as he believes. To realize he had opportunities being handed to him. Or maybe he won't. Either way, it's no longer my issue. And I have to actually walk away from this knowing I gave him an opportunity he likely won't get again. I did my best.
To The Brother, if you read this. I know you are mad, and I know you are content to let others believe that you were the victim. I hope one day that you will see your role in all the "drama" that follows you. I hope that you will figure out that you are the change that needs to happen, and I hope that you stay safe.
Good luck, dude.