This post is inspired by this video going around:
And it really hits home. I was always player 2 with my older brother. I used to watch him play games for hours, and we’d explore worlds together. We’d talk about solutions to puzzles and discuss strategies for getting through difficult parts. He included me in his life, and we grew up together.
My mom divorced my birth father when I was too young to really remember him. And for the first several years of my memories it was just me, my older brother, and my mom. Even after my mom remarried, we were always closer to each other then we were to any of the siblings that came after. Even though I was clearly our step dads’s favorite and he did not like my brother nearly as much. After I aged out of my step dads preferred age range for sexually abusing and was cast aside, we were even closer. It was us two against my dads tyranny and anger. We did a lot of growing up those years with a hostile father that would try to pit us against each other. I think it infuriated my dad that I would constantly side with my brother against him.
Eventually - he went off to college and left me behind. That was rough - but he still came back an visited, and still made the effort to include me when he was going to be back. We’d go play pool and talk, he’d make sure I was welcome with his friends. He was the first person I told I had a significant other. And the first person I told I was going to marry them - even though I was really young at the time.
I moved out (literally) the first chance I got - up to Canada where I live now with my partner. And even after I moved out - we’d talk every so often on various chat programs.
A few years after I moved away - my dad was arrested for child abuse and I flew down the next morning to be with my family. And I didn’t recognize it at the time, but I think that was the last time my relationship with my brother was anything at all. It changed something (I mean, it changed all of us forever - even though I was a victim and I knew what it meant.. it was in the open now). He drifted away, and put up walls.
I’ve only seen him a handful of times in the ~8 years since the arrest. We’d fly down to visit my remaining family (mom and younger siblings) (who had moved about a 4 hour drive from where we were before) every so often.. at first every year, then every other year. And during all those times - my brother would never come out (with one or two exceptions). He’d come visit mom and siblings at other times, but our schedules would never really intersect. He’d cancel plans to come at the last minute, even when we’d try to book vacations specifically around his schedule so we could see him. When he did come, he was distant and always a passive participant in conversations.
Even still, I didn’t really recognize what was happening - until just a few weeks ago. My family is coming up to Canada for a bit over a week - we’re getting a cabin on a lake and it’ll be great. We’d invited my brother to come too - and were hopeful he’d be able to make it. Well, he’s not coming... again. The flight isn’t worth it (in his words) because it’d be a long flight. And, I’m heart broken. I didn’t honestly expect him to make it - but I’m a lot more hurt that he isn’t coming then I thought I’d be.
It’s sort of made everything snap together in to a clear picture. He still visits my mom and siblings a few times a year. He still talks to her, and answers her texts. But almost never responds to me. I have this memory of who he is - but I’ve come to realize that I know absolutely nothing about him that’s more recent then 8 years (except for a bit here and there I get from my mom). We were close and now.. nothing. Maybe we weren’t ever close and it was just me projecting a relationship that wasn’t there on to someone that I admired and looked up to.
Maybe he blames himself for not protecting me as the older brother from my step dad. Maybe he’s never processed any of his emotions around the abuse. I don’t know. All I know is that I haven’t seen my brother in a couple of years (and haven’t had a meaningful conversation with him in almost a decade) - and I don’t know when I’ll see him again. He’s allowed to have as much or as little of a relationship with me as he wants - but I’m also allowed to be hurt and sad by it.
Edit to add: Well, I wrote him an email talking about some of this. But holy hell doing that at work as not a good idea! Now time to do what I always do with difficult things. Click send and hide under my desk for a while.