I see him and wilt. I’m an unwatered tomato in August, smelling putrid. His hands are kitchen mitts; no fine embroidering or texting possible. They’re always slightly cupped in a relaxed C and I imagine that C at someone’s neck, my neck. I am a big person, and you wouldn’t want me to step on you. But now I feel flattened under the weight of his uncomprehending gaze. He smiles at me and puts his arms out to engulf me in an embrace. He hasn’t showered in days, maybe a week, and his stench adds to my lightheadedness. I hug him back. He says he loves me. I say yeah. I go to sit at the computer and play the music for church. He sits in the back row and falls asleep.
The last time he molested someone he was punished with not being able to go shopping for two weeks, a punishment I was assured that he sorely felt. They said he felt bad about it, but I think he felt bad about having gotten caught. I think he should be in jail, but they say he would be victimized there. I’m a monster for even thinking he should be punished more severely.
I can’t let it go. After being family of his for eight years, I can’t let it go. I have tried to feel compassion for him, to think about how he’s been horribly victimized. How brain trauma interferes with self-control. Let it go, please let go. I can’t let it go.
We had lunch, the whole family, and I sat as far from him as I could. I smile placidly. He teases, cutting you down in that elementary school boy way. He makes hints about the food on other people’s plates that he wants. He pouts. He judges the brother who molested him (Adam) because his brother smokes too much pot. He orders the most expensive things on the menu, which I will pay for. How can I be so petty? Was I raised in a barn? Once, just once I want to say, “Don’t touch me!” Why can’t I let it go?
Christmas, my birthday, every family gathering: He’s always there. If I don’t want to go, well, that conversation goes nowhere.
They have tried different kinds of counseling, but he refuses to go. He is medicated. He was, after all, not able to go shopping for two weeks. Now he has a watcher at work who has eyes on him at all times. Your tax dollars.
I am a good Unitarian Universalist. I support Black Lives Matter and a variety of anti-poverty campaigns. Mental health care reform. Jill Stein for god’s sake. But I can’t let it go, sohelpmegod I can’t let it go.