Today, I wrote about a struggle I’ve had for many, many years with not having contact with the 2 brothers I grew up with. One is 2 1/2 years older; the other is 5 years younger. For years – no, for decades I tried to be their sister; I tried to stay in touch. Only, I wouldn’t hear back from them. Years passed when I didn’t even know where they were.
In the last two years, I have talked to the older one on FB video chat two times, and I learned how they’re still in touch with each other. Then he told me how it was nice that I decided to be in touch. Really?!?!?
I’m not “in touch” more because I finally threw in the towel and gave up. Where the hell has he been? Obviously, I certainly wasn’t missed, nor was my silence probably even noticed. It hurts, and I’ve spent a lot of years being angry and resentful. But today – yes, today – I wrote about it and asked for guidance. What came through surprised me.
I was raised in a family with the expectation of traditional gender roles. I was raised to take care of a husband and children. Since I was the only sister, it was up to me to take care of my brothers too. Yet, my brothers were raised with the flip side of that. They were raised to be taken care of. From that perspective, it’s not surprising that after I declined to be the sibling caregiver, they would have probably felt rejected and, hence, walked away.
Although, this dynamic is not my fault nor theirs, all three of us were raised by parents who loved us and did the best they could. They sincerely tried so hard to fulfill these cultural ideals surrounding family and gender roles; ideals even their own childhoods fell far short of.
Now, it’s time for me to return my brothers to our parents. After making something to represent each of them, I’ll have a private ceremony that includes cord cutting to say good-by. Then I’ll drive 45 minutes to leave those symbolic items on our parents’ graves. After only seeing one brother face-to-face one time in the last 26 years, moving forward, once and for all, is long overdue.
Ultimately, I do wish them both the very best. Yet, I will no longer update them with my phone number or address. Doing so all these years has kept that ember of hope burning. No regrets. It’s just time for me to move on. I’m sweeping out the stale to make room for the fresh. I’m embracing and honoring my desire and conviction to invest in loving, kind, and reciprocal relationships.