Crisp and resplendent among the stars, she bathes me in pure white, nurturing light, a light that lingers in the empty spaces, filling them, making me whole. Even with a double window pane and 238,900 miles between us, the moon shines a light on my life, listening to my secrets, providing me with wisdom, protecting me from the monster beyond the locked door of my room — a monster that inhabits my brother’s psyche.

Even before I learned the monster’s true identity — the OCD, ADHD, dyslexia and anxiety — I knew its secrets. I remember the first time I understood the severity of my situation: I was nine years old. I sat at the dinner table with my family and our half-eaten plates of pasta when the monster emerged with demands and accusations. It yelled at my parents for the horrible dinner they had prepared. It said that they were purposefully trying to starve it. Finally, it threatened its revenge.

My mother gave me a quick glance, my cue to retreat to the safety of my room. My brother was unable to express his rage in words, and his fists began to fly, writing anger into the air. He hit the table and stomped on the floor. The house shook.

I watched from the hall as he threw his plate to the ground — my parents narrowly escaped his fists and herded him away from the table. He continued to scream, loud enough for neighbors to hear; he bruised his hands and knees, slamming them on the floor; he hit my parents’ heads, arms and torsos. This small child, no more than three feet tall, possessed with rage: a fiery, blinding sun. In a stumbling dance, my parents pinned him to the ground, holding him down as he fought to breathe in anger once again. Looking at each other, they prayed silently that the monster would remain immobile while I escaped to my window and the moon beyond.

I concluded that my situation was atypical: none of my friends discussed their home life and so I assumed they didn’t share my troubles. In middle school I began to compensate for this difference by attempting to be perfect. At school, I got good grades, participated in field hockey, and helped run a student organization. At home, I completed my chores without complaint and behaved like a model child. I closed myself off, rarely sharing any information about myself or my family, only speaking about school or the latest trend. At night, I confided in the moon, releasing my sorrow to the sky.

But a few months ago, I realized that I was no longer confiding in the moon. My brother sat at his computer in the family room, clicking his mouse as he moved himself around a virtual Minecraft world and told me about what he was doing. In that moment, I saw how far I had come from my nine-year-old self. Instead of hiding in my room, face glued to the window, I am out in the open. Instead of cowering in the face of screams and fists, I stand my ground.

In the nine years since my brother’s tantrum, I have shed my meek, withdrawn self to reveal my independent, outgoing self. The years of compensating, although painful, have resulted in academic ability, social capability and emotional maturity. I have come to see that my brother, tied down by disorders and medications, doesn’t have the same freedom. Every day, I am so grateful I don’t share his struggles and every day, I am so grateful for my health. I have become the nurturing one, the wise one. I have become my brother’s moon.