“I don’t believe an accident of birth makes people sisters or brothers. It makes them siblings, gives them mutuality of parentage. Sisterhood and brotherhood is a condition people have to work at.” – Maya Angelou
The other day I e-mailed my brother to share an article that I thought he would like. The article was well written and funny and it reminded me of my older brother. He emailed me back to acknowledge the article and inquire how we were all doing. He then said something so simple and I’m sure he has no idea just how much this simple line touched me. He said “I enjoy reading your blog, it’s good and you are a much nicer person than me – I feel humbled – lol!” Kevin has been reading my blog since I started and he’s always been supportive of my writing. Growing up, Kevin was my senior brother by seven years and I didn’t always feel that he was supportive of me or my ambitions. To be quite honest when I was a young girl and a teenager I quite often thought he was an asshole and I’m sure he thought the same of me. We didn’t get along, I always felt he pushed his weight around and he was in my face which made me push back and at times it could be explosive! I drove him crazy, I knew it and knowing that I drove him crazy only encouraged me to get under his skin some more. I can be like that, if I feel negativity coming my way I tend to face it straight on with my head high and get in negativity’s face no matter what the consequence.
After reading that line in his e-mail, I realized how far we’ve come. Acknowledging my writing and complimenting me erupted within me a feeling of satisfaction and made my day. I realized at that moment as a young girl growing up under the weight of my big brother that I was looking for his support and craving his acceptance. Looking back at our up-bringing I realized that Kevin and I were destined to be in an explosive sibling rivalry by the very nature of our family dynamics. Our parents split up and divorced when I was eight and Kevin was 15. The divorce was nasty and full of tension and anger leaving the children to fend for themselves on an emotional level. I look at my 15-year-old son right now and what he is going through in terms of growing pains, hormones and emotions and then I think of my brother watching our father walk out the door and the emotional toll it took on our mother and I realize now why Kevin was such an asshole. By nature most 15-year-old boys are assholes as they are trying to find their way and become young men. Kevin was expected to be the man of the house and take care of his younger sister and brother. My younger brother was pretty quiet about everything but I could be uncooperative at times and a sassy, quick-talking little bitch. I’m sure that’s what my brother wanted at 15, to be responsible for two children who didn’t really want to be a part of the whole mess either.
Kevin was a good hockey player and he was a smart cookie in school. My father coached hockey and coached Kevin up to that point. My father gave up coaching, Kevin quit hockey and picked up a different group of friends which led him away from school and into endeavours that put him on a different path, a path that was the opposite direction of his former life. It’s not for me to express my brother’s feelings, but I’m sure he was angry and I think that anger came out in so many different forms. I’ve always been able to channel people’s feelings and emotions and I know now that I was reacting to his anger. Every single one of my siblings reacted differently to the trials of our parents’ divorce and every single one of us have different feelings and versions of events. Difficult really, places brother against brother, sister against sister and brother against sister. Divorce doesn’t have to be that way but it was that way for our family.
As I sit here this morning writing this post, I am 3000 miles on the opposite coast of my siblings and I miss them. I miss our bonds no matter how unpredictable and temperamental we all can be. The truth of the matter is when I get together with my siblings I feel like I’ve come home, truly come home and I can be myself as I react to the constant banter and wise cracking comments between us. I love the nature of our relationships and I wouldn’t trade our up-bringing or past experiences because I believe these experiences have shaped us into who we are. A couple of years ago, Kevin and my sister-in-law, Sandra, flew to the west coast to spend some time with my family. It was such a good visit, we had a lot of fun and Kevin and I talked about old times. It was during this visit that a light came on for me as I realized all of our past trials and fights happened because Kevin and I are more alike rather than opposites as I believed growing up. I guess you can say Kevin and I finally came home, home to a place of mutual respect and acceptance and realized we are both assholes!