I have an older brother. 3 years older. We have not spoken in 10 years. I have my story about him and our distance; a story that I’ve been telling for as long as I can remember. This week I had the opportunity to rewrite that story and in the process heal a very old, very deep wound; one that I did not even know my heart bore. Releasing the old story and healing the wound has allowed for a new story to emerge. This is how it all started….
I grew up in a neighborhood of large families, except for my own. Most of my neighborhood girlfriends had 3 or 4 older brothers and all of those families seemed very close; the brothers very protective of their little sister.
Up until the time of middle school or so, my brother and I got along. He even played Barbies with me; spending what seemed like hours setting up the different households and telling the stories of each Barbie and Ken “family.” We even set up a doll hospital in my chest of drawers and pretended we were doctors, healing my baby dolls. At that time, I guess I felt like part of a “normal” brother and sister situation. Something changed along the way and as we grew up, a distance grew between us.
Despite the growing distance, I looked forward to high school, when he would be a senior and I a freshman. He would “show me the ropes”; I would have crushes on his friends and he would protect me from any boy who tried to break my heart. Life would be just like I dreamt it would be!
That never happened. He would have nothing to do with me.
I was an over achiever in school, carrying a 4.0 GPA, active in social and service clubs and very active in my church. My brother got into trouble and was told he didn’t “apply himself”. The distance widened.
Sometime during high school, mom found a pot plant growing in his bedroom (possibly thanks to Miss GoodyTwoShoes here.) The confrontation between my normally quiet father and my angry brother was loud and physical; with my mother crying and shouting for them to stop.
I don’t have a lot of memories of my brother after that. I did my thing and he did his, spending a lot of time away from the house. He graduated, moved out, fell in love and got married. Dad passed away and eventually my brother cleaned up.
By this time, I was taking my own turn with drugs. My brother, now clean and “holier than thou” made it his mission to fix me. What resulted upon that confrontation was another screaming match that left my mother, again, crying and begging us to stop.
Life moved on, I straightened up and eventually my mom moved out of state to be with my brother and his wife. She lived out her days there and our contact was spotty. I only visited her there once. It turned ugly very quickly with my brother screaming and demeaning both my mom and my sister in law while playing a silly board game. My mom made excuses for his verbal abuse but I could not and would not sit and listen to it. I was well aware of how he belittled my sister in law while they lived here. Now I could see it how that had intensified to include our mom. I vowed to myself never to go back there as long as he was in the vicinity of my mother.
My mom had a knack for playing the victim role, she was always getting “taken” by someone or some business. I could see that she had just let that role overtake much of who she was now, letting him say & do whatever he wanted to her and she would justify it in her own sweet way.
My mom passed away 11 years ago, suddenly, while I was out of the country. I made the trip north to go through her things a few months later. It was the first time I’d seen my brother in I’m not even sure how many years.
During the days I was there, I discovered he and I had some things in common. We both loved photography and camping. We had a similar sense of humor, no doubt thanks to our hysterically funny mother. There was a glimmer of the possibility of a relationship.
But, out of sight, out of mind. I came home and life returned to normal. My sister in law did a good job of trying to stay in touch, with notes and emails – always signing both their names (though I’m not sure he even knew we communicated) but after a while, that dropped off too.
When asked about my family, I would readily offer up that my brother lived a somewhat reclusive, paranoid life (with lots of other juicy adjectives) out of state and that he was never really the big brother I had wanted so I really didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything. I’d never had it so I didn’t feel like it was missing it now. Basically, I had written him of and had even “replaced” him long ago with a good friend who has always been like the big brother I’d dreamt of having.
Fast forward to earlier this year. MUCH has changed in my life. I found myself at my Spiritual community for the premiere of a movie, “Discover the Gift.” The movie was inviting the viewer to discover the gift within that was meant to be expressed on the planet. It was a documentary film that changed lives, with more than forty of today's most influential transformational leaders explore how to discover one's own unique Gift, including our own Rev. Michael Beckwith. Sounded good to me – I’d been wondering what my real purpose, my real GIFT was here.
"Discover the Gift" was produced by acclaimed producer/director Demian Lichtenstein and his sister Shajen Joy Aziz and it found its beginning in the healing of their relationship. I remember thinking of my brother and wondering, “Do I need to do that?” My mind quickly replied, “NOPE! Nothing to do there!”
Ah…the fact that I had even had the thought really was an indication that there was work to be done there. I just chose to shove it back into the darkness from whence it came! But it grew, just as a seed grows in the darkness of the rich soil. I was now in a spiritual community that regularly asked me to forgive in order to be free. Every time I saw Demian at a service that little thought, that little seed, would sprout up just a tiny bit more. And every time it did, I would try to shove it back into the darkness.
But, a seed only knows one thing – to grow toward its light source. This seed had spent enough time in the darkness. It was now time to come into the light.
(to be continued)