This deeply personal straight-talking article is about something we all know too well--- peacefully surrendering ourselves to others' inadequacies. We mature and realize we cannot change others. Accepting the ones we love as they are is hard. After decades of trying, I've finally come to peace with the notion that there are some things I'll never have---namely, a closer relationship with my "adored" older brother.
I have a half-brother that is seven years older than I and celebrates his birthday one day before me—we both share the same water-sign, Aquarius, and an acute appreciation for humor. Ever since we were little, I always felt a special connection to him. Over the years, we’ve created countless inside jokes, that with a mere gesture or look in the eye, we intuitively exchanged volumes of information. I love his perceptive and slapstick sense of humor. He is an extremely talented guitar and drum player, plays tennis with the finesse of a pro, and is highly intelligent. Growing up, I idolized him and have always been proud of his genius mind and colorful personality. In many ways, I sought to emulate him.
If it were up to me, over the years we would have been the best of friends--- hanging out all the time, listening to music and entertaining one another with our wit and insightful impersonations. But, it is not that way. My brother has another life--- a life that I have come to know only in bits and pieces, through the years. And most of what I do know is through his subjective optic.
My brother grew up with us, but lived “officially” with his mother and two other brothers. Their family dynamic was not ideal, from what I’ve been told. However, when he was with us, we always tried to balance the scales of justice and love in his favor. We weren’t exactly the most emotionally-perfect alternative either, but our father’s unconditional love for him, and all of us, embraced us wholeheartedly. I remember as a kid secretly hoping that whatever dysfunction was occurring within the four walls of his “other” home, would be obliterated by the affection we all showered on him.
Love cures all, right?
Years passed. He launched a wonderful career in the medical field and was celebrated by all his colleagues and supervisors for his professional successes. He married a few times and had a rough go-at-it. His first matrimony ended abruptly by his adulterous wife and his second wife left him a widower. He never had children with either. My heart broke for him and his unsuccessful marital endeavors. He deserved to lead a happy, “normal” life---I mean this guy was a prince---in my eyes. I knew my brother was the most dynamic and tender-hearted person in the world, so what was holding him back from realizing his full potential?
Decades later, I still do not understand. He only indulges us with occasional quick spurts of his time, on his terms, about once every 6-8 weeks. My children yearn for more time with their uncle---his charisma is addictive, and they crave closeness. I invite him to spend time with us all the time, yet each time, he squirms with discomfort, murmuring out excuses why he cannot. And it has taken me years to learn not to take it personally---he is this way with all his loved ones.
I believe that he has grown into a man with many self-imposed limitations, perhaps resulting from childhood issues never truly accepted, confronted, or resolved. He likes his routines, his comfort zone, and rejects spontaneity.
Despite my efforts to reach out, I realize something fundamental. He cannot and will not give anymore. And there is nothing I can do. And only he knows why.
Nonetheless, after years of struggling with my own feelings of rejection and years of longing for something I cannot have, I have finally come to accept him as he is. And I try to no longer grieve over the fulfilling sibling relationship that will never be.
No more analysis. “It is what it is” and I'll take this over nothing at all.
Do you have any relationships in your life that you truly cherish, but leave you emotionally unsatisfied? As you've aged and matured, have you chosen to accept them as they are or allowed them to cease to exist?