In that moment, I looked up at my brother, a man I have loved and trusted and respected for as long as I can remember, and he looked just like Michael, my ex. His eyes were filled with desperation, confusion, hate, sorrow, banality, love, anger, loss, alcohol, and all of the self-loathing in the world—and he stopped being my big brother. His face was Michael’s face when he was high and drunk and mean. Reliving his days in boot camp—angry at the world– itching for a fight—and finding nobody but me around. I wasn’t sure if my big brother had always had Michael’s face or if Michael had always had his face; but, I hated that face. I didn’t hate Michael–I never loved him to hate him. Even through the abuse and the insanity I never hated him. But, I hated that face as it transformed in front of me.
And, in that moment, I realized that my counselor is right. I have no idea what a healthy relationship is. I cannot tell the difference between a healthy relationship and an abusive one. And, no…even if I’m not being hit…that does not mean that I’m in a healthy relationship.