I have had this post in my drafts since I began this site. I have a feeling it will end up being a multi-part series, because to be honest, I doubt I can capture the entire story of my brother (and I) in one post… without losing my audience at some point. I am not daunted by writing about my brother, or his importance in my life, it is just downloading over 30 years of memories properly and in a way that merits the value he has in my heart. I don’t want to sugarcoat anything, I wouldn’t even know how to be honest, but there are certain old bones that should remained buried. My point here is I don’t expect anyone to understand with out the full story. But, if you are here reading, accept what you are reading, and trust me bad means bad, sometimes really bad. Sad and good work the same moving forward.
Truth be told, we have had a tumultuous relationship at times. Most of it, a product of our lives. Taking our story from those moments to now, and how strong our bond is, includes so very many twists and turns. Things that shaped us in to the humans we are, sad and happy, scary and stupid… some things that will make ya go hmmm, and others that will make your heart warm. The beginning is tough, the middle strained, but the current is happy. It wasn’t all bad, for sure, but we are not going to compare, and I am going to tell you my truth, at least as much as I can in a few blog posts.
For what it’s worth, this post is an extension of me, to him, and I hope he is moved by my words, and proud of how far we have come. I am.
So in order to effectively tell our story I will have to start at the beginning of mine. A little cliff notes history, my dad has two kids from his previous marriage, mom and dad had me, mom and stepdad had my little brother and stepdad already had two kids of his own. So I am the youngest, only, oldest and middle child, respectively, depending on who’s weekend it was. No wonder I am so fucked up. Kidding, kinda. I am going to attempt to avoid bringing others in to this story as much as possible, but I will definitely touch on the having to be versatile in each home setting, to say it nicely, in a bit. As I have said before my intention is not to hurt anyone, but in order to speak my truth, that may be a result for you. Moms, Dads you can opt to stop reading at any point, and when all is said and done, I love you and I know you love me, and did what you could. This is not about blame or fault, or about you all, at all.
My mom and dad had an extremely rocky relationship and divorced when I was around three. My mom is from the South, but followed by dad out to California to attempt to make it work. Needless to say it didn’t, but we stayed anyway. My dad was fairly quickly involved with my now step mom, and my mother met my now step dad in the coming years. Their bitter battle, and me at the core of it, was a tough place for a little girl. Throw in different expectations at each household, new families and step-parents on either side and sprinkle on top blending in new siblings that lived in VERY different upbringings, along with not ever feeling certain about anything, ever. I was a mess. I tried to not let on, and to be strong, but I was too young I constantly felt like a burden and and let down and shouldn’t have had to. My back story to age 5(ish).
Along comes baby brother. I remember being excited, but I also feared where I would fit. Pressures from my parents hate for each other mounted. I don’t recall much from my moms pregnancy, but I do remember being awakened in the middle of the night and having to go to the neighbors, because he was on the way. I was six and I stayed up most of that night thinking, “my little brother is coming!” with excitement, at the exact same moment wondering “will they still love me?”
They did. And I loved him. But shortly there after, and for the coming years, I began to resent him, I felt like he was more a responsibility than a sibling. My mom often beamed to others that “I was such a big help” which made me feel good, and also “her legs” which made me feel like I was no longer a kid, her kid, or even human for that matter. I had to take care of him like he was mine, when all I wanted to do, was go play with my transformers and barbies. Now, in my mom’s defense, she grew up in a different time. With 12 brothers and sisters, they ALL had to do work, and pull their weight, it was how families worked, and how she launched in to having us and raising her family. She did the best she could with what she had and what she knew. But as a child, I felt like I had responsibilities I did not ask for, I was born to do work, to be her “legs” not a fun loving little kid. I babysat him from a very early age, and he cut in to everything. I shared everything with him, I got less because of him, I couldn’t go do things I wanted to because of him. I displaced my anger about not being able to just be a kid on to him, and I was harsh.
On the ever-other-weekend schedule, my dads house was a whole other existence. I was the only child there, spoiled the majority of the time, but money and gifts and nice things that meant I had to act older than I was and almost “perform” in certain company was a grown up reality I was unequipped for. His guilt trips on me scarred me for life. Every thing was different between the two homes, and I couldn’t share any of it with anyone because of the hostility between the two. I did relish the attention I got at my dads, being the only child to focus on, but the things I remember mostly was not being able to be much of a kid in my dads grown up world, and not understanding how to fit the mold of an adult at only 8 years old. The words bitter and uncomfortable come to mind for some reason.
Looking back now, I wonder how I ever thought it was okay to be so mean to my brother. I have apologized to him a million times since. That said, he was admittedly a pain in the ass the majority of the time… we have discussed that too lol. He was constantly sick, and the answer was bubble gum flavored penicillin. Well guess what? Homeboy was allergic to red dye… and guess what else?! It was in everything! So the poor kid was a pain, and the red dye made him like a Tasmanian devil, no exaggeration. He was awful. He would intentionally destroy things, throw temper tantrums, get in fights and ultimately my parents were just too exhausted, all the time, it was a lose-lose for everyone.
Hearing his version at this point in life, looking back, he had his share of burdens too. He didn’t have any control of his out-of-control-ness, and the response to him was just more negative. Poor guy. As we got older the divide continued. Neither of us felt like we fit in, anywhere. Not with our families, in school or each other. We were always the out-casts, or at least felt like it with our moms side of the family, because we were not at the “core”. We were mostly on the poorer side of middle class, and the bitter battle between my parents generally rooted around money. My dad having enough, my mom, not. I know my mom said he did not pay, and I know my dad said he did. Needless to say money became a sore spot. So I never fit in at Catholic school, because I had hand-me-downs, and he was always so bad he didn’t have a lot of friends. We both had fun and good memories at times of course, but there was tremendous damage done along the way. Both of us suffering, never realizing the other was too. The whole “world revolves around me” immaturity held us in that pattern. Same rough seas, different boat.
The strain between all of us was high, and for whatever reason, I was most distraught toward him. Maybe I felt like mom wasn’t the one I could be mad at, maybe it all changed after him, maybe that’s just how I remember it. I had my dad, he had his. My dad was unpleasant and rude toward all things at moms, his dad and I didn’t really get along at the time. The mom we shared was over worked and spread thin. It just was a perfect storm.
As we got older, I was constantly in the throws of loving him immensely and wanting to protect him, and not being able to tolerate him ripping my favorite things apart. I remember getting “mouthy” with my mom, trying to protect him from a paddling, sticking up for him in a way I hadn’t even done for myself. Yet, I blackmailed him relentlessly, and kicked him out of my room, but then also chased down and pummeled anyone, boys included, that picked on him…he ran from me about as often as he ran to me, it was topsy-turvy to say the least. Everyday different. I was his biggest adversary, and equally his protector.
I could chronicle all of the low lows, but I will defer to my comment above. We both had our share, and they were bad ones.
When he was seven and I had just started high school, by two months no less…we moved cross country from Southern California to Virginia. Now I hated everyone. I mean what did these “beach” people do, go in their overalls?! Snarky teenager life. I was miserable and didn’t want anything to do with my family. Of course my brother was feeling just as awful, but he did not talk to me, so I had no way to know. Honestly, if he had tried, I probably wouldn’t have given him much of myself either.
VA was now home, with a whole new set of rules….
To be continued…
But before I go, I love you lil (bigger) brother 🙂