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From preschool to junior high I shared a bedroom with my brother who was four years older than I. I was a "late bloomer" and Matt delighted in ridiculing my sexual immaturity. He insisted that I was less than fully male.
Because of a disability from birth I never attended a gym class, was excused from military service, seldom experienced a locker room as an adolescent or adult. So I believed his words that I was unacceptable as a man. This perceived defect goes far beyond the physical. It has warped my emotional, mental, social, and spiritual view of myself.
Consequently, the relationship between my brother and me has been shallow and cool. We never discussed his abuses. He may have wondered why I remained distant. I think he knew.
About a year ago Matt was hospitalized. During the recovery from surgery an internal infection went undetected. There were several setbacks. After many weeks of hospitalization he was transferred to an inpatient facility where another problem was detected and he was hospitalized again. He eventually died.
I had seen counselors, dealing with impaired masculinity issues, depression, and other struggles. Through counseling and Celebrate Recovery, I realized that none of us deserves forgiveness.
While Matt was hospitalized following surgery I phoned his room. As our conversation neared an end I realized there was no guarantee that there would be more conversations. I told Matt that I loved him. It was the only time in my memory that I had ever said it.
There was a long pause, then he said, "I love you, too, Denny."