After Four Years, I Ran Into My Brother, And It Wasn’t What I Was Expecting

As some of you know from my frantic Facebook post a couple months ago, I ran into my brother at a restaurant. I was out with a couple of girlfriends for a ladies’ night, and we were chatting at a table, enjoying dinner, when I looked up and realized that I was sitting about fifteen feet from my brother, who was drinking at the bar.

Oddly enough, even though my entire family doesn’t live that far from me, in four years I have only ever run into one person, and that was the time I saw my mother at the grocery store.

Now suddenly, there I was, looking at the brother that I have not laid eyes upon in years.

Panic does not even begin to describe the feeling that ripped through me, because although I don’t care about him enough to be emotionally uncomfortable by his presence, physically he scares the shit out of me due to his hulk-like temper.

Whereas I would have been fine ignoring the hell out of my mother if she had shown up, my brother’s presence provided the very real possibility that I was about to get into some type of physical altercation.

So, I did what anyone in my situation would have done, and I immediately left. So quickly in fact, that I didn’t even care that the waitress had mistakenly run $48 on my credit card, when I had only spent $8.00.

(Note to self: Call the restaurant)

Thankfully my friends are awesome and they ran out after me, and then drove me to another restaurant so that I could catch my breath. An hour later we were sipping a drink and laughing at our own corny jokes while we poked fun at our husbands who weren’t there to defend themselves, as many wives do.

Later that night as I laid in bed still feeling shaken by the encounter, I became keenly aware of how much my life has changed, when I realized how long it had been since I’d seen my brother.

Four years I think, and it’s very strange to think of how much my life has changed during that time.

A lot can happen in four years you know, and I’m proud of what I have done, even though many people in my life still cannot understand why I did it at all.

“Aren’t you ever going to talk to your family again?” they ask me in shock, and often shake their heads in disappointment and disbelief when I reply “no.”

It’s not a typical thing for someone to shun their entire family; just like we don’t routinely hear of men completely abandoning their wives and children.

Not everyone gets raped on their wedding night.

And I think, that at the root of it all, people continue to not understand my life, because they simply cannot process what I would have done to lead me to a place where those things happened.

“There must have been something she did wrong, because I would never, ever, find myself in that position,” I’ve heard people say when they talk about women with stories like mine. And what I hear when I listen between the lines, is “I don’t want to think that it could ever be me, so I’m going to assume that she must have done something that I would never do.”

In fact, if you would have told me five years ago that this was all my fault, I probably would have believed you; but not anymore.

Seeing my brother that night made me realize that no matter how long it has been, I still can’t change my story. I don’t know if four years has been enough to mature my brother to the point of safety, but that’s not my issue to control; my only role in the situation, is to take what I have, and make the best of it.

That night, I had an exit door.

I walked out the door, picked up my night, and carried on, just like I’ve done with my entire life, for nearly my entire life.

In life, you don’t always get to choose what happens to you, anymore then you get to choose the color of the hair that grows out of your head, or the family that you were born into.

There just simply are, things that simply are.

Things will happen that we cannot control; from an embarrassing layoff at work, to a nasty public divorce. Maybe you were assaulted by a stranger in the night, or cheated on by the person you thought was your soul mate.

Maybe, like me, your family abuses you, your husband rapes and abandons you, your entire life burns down, and you turn around, pick up your children, start a little blog, found a nonprofit, and marry someone else.

Life happens, even when you don’t want it to, but that doesn’t mean, that it always has something to do with you.

There is no shame, in living through things that were out of your control.

Do not take responsibility for the things you could not control, but take pride in the things that you can.

Things happened to me, and in them, I lived.

What happened to you is your story, but it is not who you are.

What you did about it, is the only reflection of you that matters.

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  • Anonymous
    July 13, 2017 at 4:07 pm

    Your blog entries move me. They're not just compelling, but very educational. IMO, the most insightful statement in this one was:”what I hear when I listen between the lines, is 'I don’t want to think that it could ever be me, so I’m going to assume that she must have done something that I would never do.'”Running a close second would be:”my only role in the situation, is to take what I have, and make the best of it.That night, I had an exit door.”Not only is it apparent that you have survived a trial by fire to come out and recognize and accept the ensuing scars, but you wear them as badges of honor. Having followed your blog anonymously for as long as I have has made me a better, more understanding person. You are changing the world for the better perhaps more than you realize; much respect!me

    • NotMyShametoBear
      August 1, 2017 at 8:47 am

      Aw, thank you. Those are some very sweet compliments (and a lot of pressure to watch what I do lol!). Thank you <3


  • Facebook
    July 13, 2017 at 6:42 pm

    I had to walk away from my family also. A lot of people don't understand it, there are those who try to push me back. But I won't. I did the right thing for my daughter and finally for me. I'm glad you were able to continue your night and have a good time.

    • NotMyShametoBear
      August 1, 2017 at 8:47 am

      So do you!!!!!

  • Carolyn De Neut
    July 13, 2017 at 6:49 pm

    You. Rock. 🙂

  • Facebook
    July 13, 2017 at 6:51 pm

    You continue to be such an inspiration with every story you share! I am in awe of you!!!

  • sues2u2
    July 13, 2017 at 7:21 pm

    When you initially told about seeing him my first thought waa literally “run!” That thought hasn't changed and in fact, I'm very happy for you that you did. Now? Keep sending that encouragement out so that others who are where you were have a lifeline to cling to and use to escape.

    • NotMyShametoBear
      August 1, 2017 at 8:48 am

      You know, they say that a good run, is good for the soul lol. It worked out well for me!!

  • Facebook
    July 13, 2017 at 9:51 pm

    Dad and sister are out of my life since 2013. Haven't seen since 2011. I will probably see my sister again, but not my Dad, ever. Many do not understand. Years and years of the roller coaster. I got off the ride. My sister stays on the ride, even though mentally she knows what will happen. I choose to not be apart of it.

  • Anonymous
    July 18, 2017 at 9:56 pm

    I too, walked away. They only live 3 blocks from me. Amazingly, we never have chance encounters. My dad passed recently, and I was barred from his funeral. At that point, the blame lifted from my shoulders. They are evil people, and I know that I did the right thing, by putting them out of my life. My mother died when I was a toddler. My father chose my step-moms family, and the one that they created. I was not a part of their chosen life. My children and grandchildren are much better off, not having to deal with their hypocrisy. The repeated rejections still hurt, from time to time. But each day confirms that I did the right thing, by walking away.

    • NotMyShametoBear
      August 1, 2017 at 8:49 am

      Isn’t it amazing how the world (or in my beliefs, God) sometimes protects you from the things you need protecting from? I can’t believe that I don’t see my family more often!

      I’m glad that you have been able to avoid your people as well 🙂


  • Jade wintergreen
    August 10, 2017 at 1:02 pm

    I am in the same position. I have just stopped all communication with my family as well. After years of abuse emotional as an adult. And physical and sexual abuse as a child. I felt I was the only person dealing with this kind of situation. The funny part is the moment I decided to stop communication from them I felt Free . now I could really enjoy my life. But it has also been a struggle I've been told off and more. But your post really help me. Thank you.

    • NotMyShametoBear
      August 16, 2017 at 8:37 am

      You are free!! Good for you!!


  • Daughter_of_the_King
    August 12, 2017 at 9:17 pm

    I cried reading your other post. I thought I was the only one that spent holidays alone & had completely cut off their entire family. It was a relief to know that you're happy and love your life. It scares me knowing there is no back up plan anymore and I have to triple check my boxes because I dont have family to ask for help anymore. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • NotMyShametoBear
      August 16, 2017 at 4:17 am

      You are NOT alone 🙂 But you are right, it can be scary. Not as scary as not being able to trust your own family though, so you’re moving in the right direction!


  • Anonymous
    August 17, 2017 at 12:37 am

    I hate to bring it up but you did do something other women wouldn't do: You didn't recognize a guy who was bad news. You can call that victim-blaming but that wasn't my intention. You all know that men target some women and that women in bad relationships continually fall into the same pattern. Most women have the instincts to not get into that kind of trouble.

    • NotMyShametoBear
      August 17, 2017 at 12:26 pm

      These are the viewpoints that make me so sad, because they are so small minded that they completely miss the point. What you are failing to see, is that #1, all women do not have those instincts. Many girls are brought up in dysfunction, and they are taught that dysfunction is normal. Much of what you perceive as danger, is a learned instinct. When you are taught that it’s normal, then you accept it as such.

      #2, You are failing to underestimate the level of narcissism that often accompanies abusers. They are phenomenal chameleons who blend in with everyone else, or as many studies have proven, are often seen to others as high class, smart, witty, charismatic, and trustworthy. There have been enough studies done to prove the point; people with that level of narcissism, can become whomever they WANT you to believe that they are. I mean look at Ted Bundy. After he was revealed to be a serial killer, everyone around him was shocked because as they said, “he seemed like such a gentleman, he seemed so trustworthy.” And that, is exactly how he lured his victims in; by playing the role of a great guy.

      Are there red flags? Sure there are in *some* cases (and self admittedly there were quite a few in mine), but there are NOT always red flags, and women are NOT always equipped to see them.

      You are EXACTLY who I was referring to, when I said that people often victim blame, because it comforts them to believe that it could never happen to them.

  • Anonymous
    August 21, 2017 at 5:16 am

    Only some people are targeted (see here: I believe most women you see on the street would simply never be in an abusive relationship because of how they act. It may be empowering for women to see they have some power over what comes their way rather than seeing it as random chance, which it is not.

    • NotMyShametoBear
      August 29, 2017 at 4:47 am

      You’re missing the point completely.

  • Anonymous
    December 3, 2017 at 9:36 pm

    Can't say I blame you for wanting to avoid a possible beating or something from that guy, but I do hope you'd welcome any distant interactions he might initiate, if he might have actually seen the error of his ways (unlike your parents).

    • NotMyShametoBear
      December 4, 2017 at 7:40 am

      Hum… that’s a tough one. Did you read the post about my brothers? He’s almost the worst one 🙁

  • Anonymous
    December 3, 2017 at 9:38 pm

    Can't say I blame you for wanting to avoid a possible beating or something, but I do hope you'd welcome any form of distant communication with him, in case he'd like to redeem himself of the way he was raised to treat you.

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