Our latest story comes from a reader whose brother is locked up for murder and attempted murder:
I lost my brother almost 20 years ago. I’m a 28-year-old female whose brother has been imprisoned since I was 9 years old. For as long as I can remember, my childhood was spent with my (single parent) mother spending her money, energy, and limited resources on attorneys and visitations for my older brother. Holidays and his birthday—in December—always left my mother depressed, and I was not the only one forgotten at home. His incarceration was more than I should have had to experience as a 9 year old. No one cared to ask how I felt or how I currently feel.
At 28, I haven’t seen my brother in four years. And the letters are one every year, if he’s lucky. I am always the bad sister for not knowing what to write him, or for insisting that my mental health cannot handle a pat-down or being touched by strangers. That’s why I don’t visit; the pat-downs are unbearable and cause PTSD symptoms. The watchful eyes of guards who saw me as the sister of a “thug” also caused too much anxiety.
Eventually, after being forced to lie for so long about where my brother “lived,” I stopped saying I had a brother. The embarrassment and anxiety and guilt of having a brother incarcerated was too much. I’m going to be married soon, and my fiancé knows nothing about my brother. He is just this figure that once protected and loved me but who has missed 20 years of my life.
This next reader has gone to see her brother in prison three times a week since his conviction of a second DUI this year: