Family drama has struck the household this week involving primarily my brother. Some people have alcoholics for brothers some have junkies and others like myself have a brother who despite all the support in the world can't seem to make a reasonable assessment of himself.
Now some of you are thinking "Whoa Aaron this is a dick move talking about this on your blog. Shouldn't you be keeping this private or be talking to him about this? Just trust me I am going somewhere with this post.
There has been a lot of heated back and forth via text and phone that hit is climax today culminating in an argument that caused my neighbours to bang on the floor (so tacky I know). A lot of baggage came bubbling up that has got my mind racing. Insomnia and heartburn the kind only family can produce is why I am posting this at 230 in the morning when I should be in bed curled up with the fella.
We have never been close him and I. Always far too similar, far too stubborn, yet far too different in a way that only brothers can be. We could never really find a way to really get along for extended periods.
We both had trouble connecting with people socially in our youth. We both experienced (and still do) extreme anxiety and most importantly we both have raging tempers. He was always a little less street savvy and always the kinder of the two of us. In many ways I think he is exactly who I would be if i were straight.
We diverged in our early teens. In my heart back then I always felt anxiously broken because I was gay. I was never going to be good enough for my family to love and care about me. So I fought to be the best god damn kid I could be. I started to excel at school and really push myself to become something. I planned my whole future with the fervor only an obsessive compulsive with a deep dark secret no amount of planning or achievement could fix.
Highschool and University came and my parents beamed and fauned over me. The whole family did. I was making something of myself with a lot of support. It was all part of my plan to make them all love me so hard that when I did come out they would have no choice but to keep me around (this worked very well with some unintended mental side affects).
With each success my head grew and with it so did the chasm between him and I. Simple conversations would turn into massive arguments or physical altercations to the point where I would have to subdue him in a headlock to calm him down. I was no innocent in this. As I have posted about before, I was an expert button pusher in those days and I had my skills honed to perfection on my family.
Generally our arguments had one underlying theme. Back then I never would have seen it but the benefits of time have given me some perspective. They were always about him not seeing his own potential and self worth. He never pushed himself harder than he had to get by and it drove me crazy.
My brain couldn't comprehend why he never expected more of himself. Here were two people that looked alike, talked alike, socialized similarly and yet in terms of achievement (measures of my choosing of course at the time) could not be more different. It infuriated me because I never wanted him to accept anything less than his best for himself.
I really think the difference was drive. I had something to run from and something to run to. All he ever had was me 5 years ahead of him in everything. I know it would drive me nuts having an overachieving asshole brother that was 5 years stronger/faster//more independent/more knowledgable.
Being right about something only served to drive the wedge further and fester more resentment.
Not being great at admitting when I was wrong might as well have been a bundle of TNT. This was all exacerbated by his unwillingness to do the same. I could never resent him but there were many days when I couldn't understand why he didn't push himself a little bit more. Why he surrounded himself with underachievers and losers. Why he didn't want more? Why did mom and I have to clean his room for him?
By the time he was 16 we would hardly talk about anything other than video games comics and toys. By the time he was 18 I spent more time talking with his girlfriend (who had been living with us for 2 years) than I did him. Over this time after being pushed away from him every time I tried to talk I sort of stopped trying. All I was doing was making him resent me more. The discussions stopped.
Moving out at 24 may have solved a ton of my issues with my parents but did nothing to bridge the gap between me and my brother. He would call me for technical support or to ask to crash on my couch (usually at the very last second). We would talk and hang out at family stuff or when I was over at the house but in that time he only came over to hang out once and that was before going on an 8 month trip to scotland. We had a great night. Ate pizza talked about his trip and played a ton of halo. In some ways it was like things were back when we were much younger. After he returned from scotland worldlier but with a broken heart, radio silence was resumed.
I always admire his heart and ability to see the best in others. I can't imagine what that kind of world would be like. This ability to endlessly forgive others that he possessed always seemed to be missing when it came to me. Every word I said to him came as if it was laced with acid. Every bit of advice was a wound to his heart.
I have to wonder if I don't have a similar blind spot when it comes to him. Do I automatically doubt everything he does because I feel he lacks a perspective on himself? Are we like cyclops and Havok (for those of you unfamiliar with the two they are brothers from the x-men who's powers cancel each other out). In many ways we fit the profiles: cyclops is an overachieving emotionally retrained control freak older brother and Havok was the younger passionate resentful and random one.
Currently he is making some really terrible decisions with his life. Everyone around him sees it and everyone is very worried. At the request of my Mom I tried to talk to him about it but we couldn't get anywhere. He said things and I said things. What hurt me the most was when he said I was a bad older brother who didn't provide him support for the last 5 or so years and had no right doing it now.
I was pushed away and stopped banging my head against the wall and here I am today still the bad guy for not doing what he hated me doing to begin with. All I ever wanted was for him to see his own potential and actually want to try and fullfil it. He really is a better person than I will ever be and I envy that innocence he holds on to. He deserves the best from himself and the people he chooses to spend his life with.
When i pushed him its because I knew he had the strength to lift himself to the next level he justs didn't know it. When I fought with him it was because he couldn't see what I did.
In the end I love that guy to death and it breaks my heart that his picture of me is so bereft of any positivity. I wish I could go back and find that magic formula of encouragement and support he was looking for. I wish i could be the big brother he wanted.
Most of all however I wish that once, just once he would see himself the way I do. Then maybe he would understand me a bit better.
Neil Diamond sang "He ain't heavy, hes my brother" many many years ago. I can understand the sentiment but really have to disagree. Like most people in your life for the long haul that we don't choose (look up family in the dictionary) they are a ton of heavy lifting often for very little reward.