I'm Done With My Brother
“Do you have any siblings?” It’s a common question that comes up in most conversations when people are trying to get to know you. For most people, the answer is easy—yes or no. But for me, it’s a difficult question, and I’m not quite sure how to answer it. When I was younger it was easy. “Yes, I have an older brother.” Now, it’s more like, “Yes, but not really,” and more and more, I have found myself leaning towards a solid “No.”
You see, my brother ain’t shit. To you, that might sound harsh. To me, that’s an understatement. Hell, I would say that’s damn near polite. It’s a statement that has arisen out of years of frustration, emotional and verbal abuse, and moving to an entirely different state. It’s a statement that’s come from visiting my parents two to three times a year to a firm allotment of only one visit per year. It’s an ending point for me, and it’s taken me a while to accept it.
There’s a huge age gap between my brother and I, and it is one of the contributing factors to why we don't have a super close relationship. We didn’t play ball together, we were never in school at the same time, but he was still my brother. I remember vividly going to all of his high school football games and cheering for him when he played, but I honestly can’t remember one time that he came to any of my softball games or theater performances.
Our age difference made our relationship difficult enough, and it was further strained by the fact that I was a straight A student and my brother barely managed to scrape by. He dropped out of college and I had three degrees by the time I was 23. I stayed out of trouble while my brother couldn’t seem to get enough of it. He wanted to be a rapper, and I wanted to be the next leader of the free world. Does that give you an accurate enough picture of us?
We’ve never been close, despite my best hope and attempt at it. Having an older sibling, especially a brother, meant that I was supposed to always have someone in my corner. I was supposed to have a constant defender and someone to teach me the game that some man will eventually try to run on me. At least that’s what pop culture told me. In reality, I was always a target and somebody he wanted to argue with. I was the antithesis to everything he was, and my parents differing behavior was evident of that. To him, I was a stuck-up prissy bitch that would always be working for the white man because I cared more about what white people thought of me. To him, I was everything he hated because my parents adored me and completely shitted on him. They didn’t understand him. They never did anything for him. They did everything for me. I know he can’t wait for the day that I do something so bad that my parents wouldn’t be able to save me from it so I would know how it feels to be him. I was just…trash to him.
And to me, he was still my older brother. I still held out hope that he was going to get it together. I defended him. When he needed me, I tried to be there. I encouraged him to go back to school, to pick a trade, to try something new. I did everything that I was supposed to do! My happiest memory was two years ago when we went to see “The Force Awakens” while I was at home for Christmas. I thought that was the beginning of something good. We weren’t arguing at home. We hung out together, listened to music, and I even gave him the password to my Netflix. If that ain’t love, I don’t know what is. I thought we were good, but I guess it was only a temporary flare of hope.
The last time I saw him, he was an asshole to me, and at the end of my trip he carelessly threw out to me, “maybe it’ll be better next time.” I didn’t acknowledge him because I’m not sure it will be ever again.
I’m very sad to say that I have no more hope to give. I’m done. It’s become emotionally taxing to dream of something that’s obviously never going to happen. I’m tired of acting like one day he will get his life together. It’s not going to happen.
I’m tired of being the nice and polite one in the family because I’ve had to overcompensate in an effort to balance his asshole behavior. I can’t even have one bad day in the house without hearing, “I get enough of it from your brother, can’t you just give me a break?” No, I can’t. Sometimes I wish that I was the problematic child in the family. That way I would have all of my bills paid, unlimited groceries in my refrigerator, and a car with a full tank of gas always at my disposal without having to open my damn wallet.
Why does the problem child get all of the attention? There were times when I needed my parents to be present for me, and they were too busy dealing with or recovering from his shit to help me. That hurts. I’m sick of pretending that I’m always okay with his behavior towards me just to keep the peace in the family. Fuck peace, I’m done.
I think I held onto hope for so long because he is my brother, but I’ve come to realize that it’s just a title designated by blood. If something happened to me and I needed my brother, I don’t know if he would come. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t even call him first; I would call my line brother. The moment I realized my biological brother wouldn't be the one I called if I needed help, I knew things had shifted for me. It was even harder for me to deal with the recognition that one of my friends forced me to realize, which is his problems are not my problems. I don’t have to overcompensate with my parents to make up for his failures because it’s not my issue. I don’t have to sit close-mouthed and in tears while he berates me, calls me a child, and dismisses everything I say.
It’s okay to read him for filth and tell him to “fuck off.” I don’t have to listen to my mother when she says, “That’s still your brother, and you shouldn’t act like that.” You don’t have this conversation with him, so why are you having it with me? Is it because I’ve kept my feelings regarding him silent for so many years? I’m over the bullshit. I’ve cried and cried and cried about this. I’ve had breakdowns and damn near mental breaks about this, but I’ve got to do it.
I’m letting go of my brother.
It feels like I’m cutting off my arm, but I have to accept the reality that I will never have a real relationship with my brother. It’s just something that I’m going to have to work through. It’s a form of self-care that I’m choosing to engage in, and while it hurts now, I’m sure it won’t always be like that. And if one day, he does get it together and decides he wants to make sound changes, well, good for him. It’s no longer my problem.