Dying to be Liked
A few months ago my brother died
He was 59
On the medical report it would be written organ failure, maybe some neurological problem, maybe his liver. I don’t know. I would say he died of a broken heart.
What I did know is that over the years he resorted to substance abuse. One time, both in our twenties, I had to kick him out of the house. He was being verbally abusive to our mother. As a family we hadn’t learned how to talk, so there were a lot of pent up frustrations. I understood him, but I couldn’t stand idle while this lashing out was happening, so I told him to get out. He did.
Later, as it turned out to be, this earned his respect for me. He would throw his tantrums at the others, but not to me. He knew I wouldn’t play along. Because yes, sadly, it was a game, or a dance you could say.
How can you heal from such a dance? Over the years he had a few nervous breakdowns and was institutionalized for short periods of time. I visited him in these pale colored drab institutions. These were some of the saddest moments we’ve experienced together. Eventually he landed a job as an office clerk. He was well liked, and his colleagues spoke of him as a gentle, smiling and always ready to lend a helping hand kind of guy
His body had given out. The acidic pain of loneliness and the ghosts of unspoken abuses were rotting his self from the inside out. I tried on many occasion to sit down with him for a coffee, but he would always postpone our talks to “Later, later, when it’s warmer, when it’s summer, when there’s more time, when there’s….” Later never came. As I emptied his dusty yellowed tar-stained wall two room apartment, I could only wish him peace.
He was just 59, and he was dying to be loved, dying to be listened to, dying to be liked.