My brother Austin and I are opposites in a lot of ways. It’s not a bad thing, but it does make it harder for one of us to understand how the other one feels sometimes. I also forget that Austin being ten years older than I wasn’t around for some of the craziness at home. And I went from being his annoying little sister to a super hormonal crazy teenager mad at the world very quickly. In between, we had a lot of good times, but I know I made things a lot harder not just for him, but for everyone.
To me, Austin always had his shit together. And I’d forever be the fuck up. So why anyone of us thought it would be a good idea for me to move in with him is beyond me. We should have known.
I had been trying out community college for the second time when I moved in with Austin. It was not an easy thing for me. School made me anxious and I always felt dumb. I also suffered from depression, and depression wasn’t something Austin understood. I can get that now. If you haven’t experienced something yourself, it’s hard to try and put yourself in someone else’s shoes.
There is also the fact that I was a slob. I did try; I really believe that. Austin as I’ve said in previous posts inherited my Dad’s neat freak trait. So there was that as well that we didn’t have in common.
I lived paycheck to paycheck. I never learned how to save money; my Dad always rescued me when I needed it. So I can see how my brother grew frustrated with me. He was someone who worked hard from the age of thirteen and saved his money.
It’s funny how you can see all your mistakes when you get older. Granted, when you’re twenty turning twenty-one, you really do think you know everything.
I ended up dropping out of college for the second time and ended up working for Sports Authority.
Austin had taken on the role of “Dad” many times, but I didn’t want him to my father, I wanted my brother.
With everything going on with me, Austin decided to email both my Mom and my Dad. Telling them that they fucked me up, they didn’t parent me how they should have. You get the gist. We had already been fighting, but this. This was different. I knew that for Austin talking about personal things was difficult, I tend towards letters myself, but I do think that he should have just spoken to my parents.
I can’t remember what our last fight was over, but I know that the email didn’t help any. I felt like I lost my brother, that he hated me, and I guess I’d feel the same way he did if it were reversed. But again, I dealt with major depression, and it wasn’t something he understood. It was barely something I myself could navigate.
The day I moved out was a whirlwind. I called Brett and his brother and said, “Bring your cars. I am moving out today!” I also called my Mom and said, “Hope you didn’t transform my room because I am coming back home.”
I got all of my stuff out in only a matter of a few hours. Both Austin and I were furious at each other. For me deep down I knew everyone thought I was a fuck up. I knew I was a fuck up. But what truly hurt me was seeing that email he sent to my parents. And not only was I mad, but my Dad was also PISSED!
My Dad never was one to handle situations at home well. He was an alcoholic man stuck with a sixteen-year-old brain. He lost it. He completely cut off my brother, out of his will, out of his life, out of everything. But my Dad was hurt. And he didn’t have the coping skills to know how to handle it.
Now, I’ve told you before I always stuck up for my brother. But the one time I should have, I didn’t.
Our dog Strider had bone cancer, and we thought we were going to be putting him down, so of course, Austin was called to come to my Dad’s house. But my Dad did something I can’t believe I didn’t see coming.
My Dad rushed into his office to grab his computer and started angrily reading out loud my brother’s email to everyone in the room. He was screaming terrible, awful things. My Mom was crying, begging my Dad to shut up.
In my head I was screaming “Stop it! Stop it! Stop it!”
But…I never said a word. I’ll never forget the hurt I saw in my brothers eyes. It destroyed me.
I let it happen, and it’s something I am still trying to forgive myself for. I was already fucked up. I’d rather my Dad have laid into me than Austin even if I was still mad at him and hadn’t talked to him in months.
I apologized somewhat recently to Austin about this. It’s eaten at me for a very long time. He says he doesn’t blame me, but I guess I still do. Austin had always tried to protect me, and I feel like I failed him. I was still angry about what he said, but that’s no excuse. I will always regret that day.
Time went by, and I knew we were never going to talk about it if things kept going the way they were. So I texted him in hopes that we could meet for lunch and talk.
We hadn’t talked in close to a year. I was nervous. When he sat down I said, “Let me say my peace before we get into anything else.”
I told him, “Look. One, we are never going to agree on who was right or who was wrong in our fight. You believe one thing, I believe another. We just have to agree to leave it in the past. Two, I need my brother back. I’m grateful for you always stepping up when Dad couldn’t, but I need my brother, not another Dad right now. If you can’t agree with these things, I don’t think we will ever get our relationship back.”
I was so nervous, but I needed my brother, and I’ll always need him. I love my brother and always will. I needed him to understand and agree.
Luckily, he agreed. I smiled. He smiled. Things were going to get better. Of course, after agreeing he tried to bring the fight up. But I said, “Nope! We will never see eye to eye on this; we are leaving it in the past.” We had to, and he laughed and let it go.
That was the day I got my brother back. I’m sad that it happened at all, but it did. And we learned from it. We needed each other. In a way, we always will. We have been through hell and back together. He was my rock when things weren’t going well, and the only one who could truly understand the ups and downs we faced with my Dad.
We are siblings, we will always squabble. But I will always be lucky to call him my big brother. And I hope that he feels lucky to call me his little sister.
We still don’t fully understand each other, but I think a lot of siblings or friends or other family members have that. And it’s okay as long as you try to work on it.
It would take Austin and my Dad a little bit longer for things to heal. I may be stubborn but my Dad was ten times worse. I thank the universe every day that they figured their shit out and made up. I know it wasn’t easy, but I’m glad we all did.
Life is too short to hold onto anger. We need to tell the people we care about how we feel more, because one day you may not get that chance.
Life is full of mistakes, it’s how we handle them and learn from them that matters the most.
I love you brother! No matter what life throws our way, I know we will always make it through.