It’s normal for siblings to fight or just generally disagree but I have a feeling my relationship with my brother was beyond the typical sibling rivalry. We fought constantly. So much in fact we had to be put in separate rooms most of the time because the thought of breathing the same air would be reason enough to fight. All those years of putting those who had the misfortune of being around us through hell makes me want to apologize over and over again. The fighting turned into hate or was it the hate the caused the fighting? I don’t know but I do know it was well into adulthood that I generally thought of him as an asshole. Really I don’t think I was too far off either but then something changed.
Just to backtrack a little I have to explain my/our childhood. When I was one and my brother was two our parents divorced. I went to live with my mother and he went to live with our father. I never gave it much thought really and never imagined that my dad loved him more or wondered why he chose him over me. To this day I don’t know the reason and honestly to me it does not really matter. Even though we lived in different towns we were always together on the weekends and my dad took us on vacations. My dad was always in my life and took care of me whenever I was with him so I looked up to him and wanted to be like him one day. The other side of the coin is my mother was unable, or refused, to make a good decision in her choice of company and made much of my childhood kind of a nightmare. My earliest memory of living with her is her then boyfriend chasing her out of the house with a gun, him cussing loudly and her running in her birthday suit right down Michigan Ave. That about sums up my childhood living at home. Each boyfriend was the same. Still I never doubted my mothers love, she just refused to make the right decisions.
My brother on the other hand had good clothes, plenty of food, a "normal" home life and went to a private school. I can’t say I ever felt jealous, at least I don’t ever remember feeling that way but thinking back on it how could I not be? There had to be something that made me hate him and wonder why I had to live where I did. He brought this up about a year ago and said something he never said before, "I always figured you were jealous because I am closer to dad than you." I guess that’s how he saw it but once again, and perhaps I’m naive, I never thought of it that way. I always believed I was just as close to dad as he was.
When my brother reached the 8th grade he decided he was done with Catholic school and rules, it was time to come live with us. I have no doubt his decision was fueled by the fact that I had no rules and was able to run the streets. He on the other hand was under the control of our dad who would have none of it. Actually I was quite excited to finally have a big brother living with me. Someone who would have my back. I could tell some stories about him taking some bumps for me in our young adult/18-22 years. He sure as hell had my back even when my mouth would write a check my ass could not cash. But still there was that anger and the fighting all the time. It’s not that I didn’t want to get along he just always did and said shit to piss me off.
Eventually things got so bad that I knew we would never have a good relationship and that remained true for close to 20 years. When we both moved out and started life on our own the contact was limited and even then was uncomfortable. Shit talking was the norm and even the occasional threat. I think our last fight, or almost fight was when I was 22 and we squared off in the street because I wanted to leave a party and he didn’t. I had always been somewhat intimated by him but on that night I was ready to kick his ass good. He actually backed down, something I had never seen him do before. Walking away he said, "thanks brother," as if my refusal to back down somehow was the final straw. There were other differences later on that caused even more of a divide but finally, about a year ago, we hit an all time low.
Having received a drunk text from him one evening bragging about giving our mother some money and how I didn’t I sent him a text back telling him he was a fool. To make an already long story less so, I will spare the details only to say it ended with him saying something like, "look at the scar," in reference to the fact that he gave our mother a kidney and I didn’t. Well there it was, the words that should never have been spoken! Actually it wasn’t nearly that dramatic for me. I just told him we need to stop acting like a couple of kids and get along. He agreed and apologized.
Where did all that anger come from all those years? Why couldn’t we get along and what about the wasted time? Was a simple, "lets get along" all that was needed? Who knows but what’s important is that we are actually, if at times awkwardly, getting along.
(had to say something so you know it was read and had an impact, but I don’t know what to say – other than I’m still not about to talk to my sister)
I should add the divide caused by my mother did not help the matter. She found, or finds, great pleasure in calling one or the other and expressing her disappointment. If I make the mistake of agreeing in any way she is quick to call him to voice “my opinion” in hopes of getting a reaction. That reaction is of course quickly communicated to the other party and so it starts. Finally I called her out on it and told my brother we can’t let her create that drama. I think seeing that for what it was helped and now when she calls and starts with, “guess what your brother said/did..” I cut her off quick. Twisted things mothers can be.
There is no mother parent licensing exam.
There should be.