Last night, I was talking to "Dan". (Remember, that's not his real name!) He asked "How's things with your brother?". Now, this was a bit of a surprise. Generally, people don't ask about him. I don't speak about him. My friends know I'd rather not talk about him - I don't ask any of my family about him, so I have nothing to say about him anyway! The only thing I know (via my mum, who told me last week) is that he has a new girlfriend he is living with in Melbourne. When I heard that ... Eh, didn't really care. I was just happy for Lorri, knowing that he was no longer in her life.
January, 2007: Basically, this was the month our family fell apart. The month we were shocked when we realised what had been going on - for months - and made us question just how the hell we'd missed it. This was the month I told my brother that as far as I was concerned he didn't exist. This was the month my brother tried to kill himself. This was the month the whole thing started.
The night before my brother overdosed was the night Lorri rang me and told me that Darren had hit her several times. He'd verbally abused her. That was the night Lorri told me about her suspicions - she had noticed bruises on Jordyn, the stories of how those bruises appeared changed every time she asked Darren. She told me about the change in Jordyn - going from a normal kid, to a scared, withdrawn, quiet kid.
I remember hanging up after speaking to Lorri, and ringing my sisters house. I knew Darren was staying there since he wasn't allowed near Jordyn and Lorri. I remember screaming and crying, telling my sister to tell Darren that he was dead to me, that I never wanted to speak to him again, tell him that he's pathetic and how could he do that to my gorgeous little nephew, what the hell is wrong with him, I never ever want to see him again ... It went on and on.
I rarely lose my temper. That's just not me. I don't see the point in yelling, or getting angry. You speak in anger, you say things you will probably regret later. You say things without thinking, hurtful things.
I can honestly say though, that I don't regret what I said that night. Those things I said? Harsh, yes. But it's what I felt. I will always be proud that I said what I felt. Sure, maybe I could have done it without yelling and screaming and crying, but oh well. Everyone else in my family was standing up for him, protecting him, believing all his lies.
I remember how I felt, the next day, when we found out what had happened. I do not believe, and I will never believe, that he intended to kill himself. The overdose that he took was never going to kill him. What he did was manipulative, and attention-seeking, and there was never any risk. It was done so everyone would feel sorry for him.
Mum and I went straight to Melbourne when we heard. I went for mum. I went for Jordyn. I went for Lorri. I did not go for him. I said straight out on the way to Melbourne that I didn't even want to see him.
I remember, on the way to Melbourne that day, just talking. Just to say something, anything. Just to not have silence. If there was silence, there was time to think.
I also remember mum and I, at 2 a.m., unable to sleep, with "the little men running around" in our heads as mum put it. Talking about what to do, what needed to be done, what could have happened, where to go now. Then getting the giggles over something so stupid I can't even remember what it was. I remember trying to stifle the giggles because we were worried about waking Lorri. I remember getting up at 4 a.m., worried about waking mum after she'd finally fallen asleep, and crashing on the couch for an hour, then being woken at 7 when mum got up.
The last 6 months has been a mix of memories. Full of fun, with my sister and my niece when they came to stay with me, and with Lorri and Jordyn when they came to stay. Full of drama after drama with Darren, causing trouble, making everything hard for the family. Full of fights between mum and dad, mum and I, mum and Amanda, Amanda and I ... All because of Darren.
Today, Lorri rang me. I haven't spoken to her in almost a month. Until last week, I had no idea that her and Darren had broken up. Today ... As soon as she said hello, I knew that something had changed. She was happy. She wasn't stressed. She wasn't upset. She was free. Free, happy, so relieved and so ... Different. It felt like, for the first time in months, there was something positive coming out of this whole thing. The silver lining on the cloud had finally shown itself. There was a reason that we'd gone through everything we've gone through over the last 6 months.
When Darren and Lorri first met, over three years ago, Lorri was outgoing and outspoken and unafraid. She said what she thought, she stood up for herself, she wasn't scared to be honest. And then, slowly, she changed. She became quiet. She put him first. Everything was about Darren - not upsetting him, making sure he was happy. She made none of the decisions regarding Jordyns routine and discipline. She had to ask if she was allowed to give Jordyn something to eat! When they were here, at my place, in June last year, Jordyn wanted something to eat. Lorri had to ask Darren's permission. That was the first time I ever stood up to Darren. I remember taking Jordyn into my room, then closing the door before I came back into the lounge and had a go at Darren - about the way he'd spoken to Lorri, about the way he treated Lorri and Jordyn. They left in an hurry after that.
Today, there was no sign of that weakness in her. There was only strength, and happiness. I think Lorri has finally realised just how much she'd changed - and she didn't like it.
Finally, something good is coming out of the hell we went through. It doesn't make it ok, it doesn't make it right. But it's nice to know that something good can come of an awful situation.