When the Father Wound is Fatal

I find myself, once again, dealing with someone who has an addiction. This time it’s alcoholism, and it’s someone I can’t leave behind. My brother.

I’ve mentioned before that there are 5 children borne to our mother, but there are two fathers. My brother and I are from Mom’s first marriage; the others are from Mom’s second marriage. But all 5 of us were raised by Mom and her second husband.

Father wounds come in different shapes and sizes, and while mine was aggravated by being abused by my stepfather as well as the absence of my real dad, I seemed to come out of all of this okay. I’m not unscarred by any means, but I’m functional, pretty happy, and generally live a peaceful, uneventful life.

My brother, on the other hand, has typical symptoms displayed in men who have been wounded in some way by their fathers. The effect of a father wound is low self-esteem, a deep emotional pain inside and a performance orientation that makes them feel a need to earn love, approval, and friendship and have less of a sense of being valuable simply by virtue of being a human being.

I kind of understand that feeling – the need to persuade someone that you are lovable. It was the undertone of our childhood. Did you get a good grade? Your sister’s was better. Did you make the junior varsity football team? Your brother made varsity. Every bit of approval had to be earned, and every last bit of your efforts would always be determined as not quite good enough. For me, I caught on to this game earlier than the others, since I’m the eldest, and eventually, I stopped bringing my accomplishments to my mom or stepdad for their approval. I internalized the wreckage to my self-esteem and sorted out the mess later on in life.

My brother, though, lived a whole life, influenced by these unhealthy dictates. He distanced himself from the rest of the competitors – his brother and sisters. He successfully built businesses, churches, and re-created his own type of family with his marriages, coworkers and his friends. He bought these friends, who were like a family to him, cars, houses, and other things, and while he was able to earn it, they remained loyal. The minute he wasn’t useful to them anymore, they were out the door. And that included his wife.

Low self-esteem is one of those things that is hard to mask. If you brag about yourself a lot, you are probably trying to convince the people around you something you don’t yourself truly believe. If you flash around money, you tend to be trying to give other people a reason to want to be around you. If you hype up minor accomplishments to spectacular degrees, you again, don’t think people have a good enough reason to like you. It’s a hard path to walk, trying to hide feelings of low self-worth, and I’ve never seen anyone do it successfully.

I am watching, in deep sorrow, my brother grapple with having absolutely no currency to use to secure my love for him, and his complete inability to understand how unnecessary that is. He’s lost everything, and that includes the determination and willpower one needs to get back up again, and he finds himself having to deal in some kind of weird promissory notes.

“When I sell my book, I’ll buy you a….”.

“When I get back on my feet, you’ll never have to live paycheck to paycheck again”

Stuff like that.

I am doing the hard work now of laying a foundation with him, showing him that he can trust me with the truth, hoping that he will see the love I have for him now, when he has nothing to offer me to earn it. And I pray. I don’t know if people this broken can ever really be put back together again, but I’m hoping that one day, my brother will want to try.

~ Bird

10 responses to “When the Father Wound is Fatal”

  1. My father…who wasn’t in my life…. was an alcoholic. There were 10 of us… Two of my brothers were alcoholics. One of them used to put himself down all the time.. saying I’m like my father…. until one day he decided to finally pour the last bottle down the drain. He was sober for the last two years of his life… but he didn’t demean himself anymore referring to being like his father…. It was hard.. took many years for him to make this decision but it was the best thing he did in his life…. Hoping that perhaps your brother may come to the same conclusion… xx Diane

    Liked by 1 person

  2. First I want to say hello, it is great to see you blogging again and I hope there will be a post to let us know how life has treated you and yours over the last few years since we last interacted. I feel your pain when it comes to your brother, in my case it ex my ex that was addicted to alcohol. It is the hardest one to beat as not only does your brother have to admit his problem and want to get better but there is so much pressure on blokes to drink. If they watch sports the drink, go out to the bar or for a meal they feel they have to drink or other men judge them. If anyone can help your brother it is you, but the main thing you have to help him with is the desire to help himself xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s so good to hear from you, too, Paula!! I will write a post to get you caught back up. Luckily, it’ll probably bore you, but I feel like I’ve been away on a long trip and I’m just returning home. As for my brother, that’s the rub, isn’t it? I want him to overcome this, but I don’t know how much he really wants it for himself. I’m going to keep trying, of course, but I’m also trying to remain detached a bit because I don’t want his decisions to wreck me. I think alcohol must be much worse than the others because it is literally everywhere. It’s cheap, available, and not as socially despised as hard drugs. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I echo Paula’s statement that it’s good to see you back. It’s been a long time. I pray that you will be able to keep the right balance with your brother as you continue to pray and reach out to him. I pray that he will respond and choose to reach out to the Lord and you for the help he so desperately needs. God bless you. Another Diane 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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