Complexity of Siblings

The relationship between siblings can be complex and often confusing. Each person has their own vision of how siblings should interact and what their own should or should not do. To add to these ideals, are the examples given to us from fictional stories or television shows like the Brady Bunch or Married with Children.

Based solely on these two examples, we can determine that siblings should either be extremely loving and helpful or completely devious and destructive to each other.

When analyzing the relationship with my own siblings, I find myself wondering why we don’t fit into either of these two categories. Instead, we simply don’t communicate at all (or rarely). It is difficult to explain the relationship between individuals when those listening to the explanation have not experienced said relationship. Much like reading a story or watching a sitcom, it’s not ours to fully understand.

When one sibling wishes for a normal relationship with the other yet does not find a similar desire coming from them, it can leave a feeling of disappointment and abandonment. This feeling of hurt can ultimately turn into bitterness. In the case of myself, I feel justified in saying it is not my fault and have an overwhelming desire to completely walk away.

Over the years, I have been the one to reach out to see how each of them are doing and find out what’s happening in their lives. Whether that be a phone call or a text message, it is (after careful consideration) approximately 90% of the time, me reaching out to them.

At various times I hear myself saying “this is the last time I do this” when I eventually reach out to see how they are, when months have gone by since the last time. More recently, I was in contact almost daily when our mother was in the hospital and rehab for over two months. Both of them live in other states so have a buffer of miles that doesn’t allow them to fulfill the obligation I feel they should keep.

Now that she is back home and doing well again, things have gone silent. Alright, let’s be honest here I did receive a text from one of them asking how mom was doing. The other sibling stopped texting after the last update from me but there is a political rift that formed so silence has become the norm.

So why do they not include me in their lives?

Perhaps they are just too busy with their own stuff, each recently starting new relationships or getting married. That can take up a lot of time and energy away from other relationships.

Perhaps neither of them feels I would be interested in what they are doing in their lives. I am quite different from them when it comes to interests. One hunts and fishes while the other does a lot of online gaming. Since I do not, it could literally be a matter of not having anything to talk about.

Focusing on this last aspect has often been my way of dealing with a crappy relationship. There have been many times when I did not reach out to someone because I had no idea what to say. Nothing new has happened and, if you don’t have similar ideals, what is there to say?

The desire for a close relationship with siblings comes from what we see and hear. Comparing what we have with what others have, can be a huge detriment to our own personal life.

I most certainly do not have a Brady Bunch family and not sure I would even want that as it feels fake to me. We can certainly touch upon the psychology of why it feels fake (my own denial or understanding of a normal family or a jealousy of not having what I think would be good) but that would be an entirely different dive into a place I do not wish to expose here.

I also do not have a Married with Children relationship with my siblings nor would I want it. Even though one can argue that they were a close-knit family when the chips were down, they were also very devastating to the overall psyche of each of them which we know followed the character’s life to the bitter end.

I have never wanted a “holiday family” with the definition being that you only see each other on the holidays or receive stupid little texts saying Merry Christmas and nothing more. Actually, that last part is pretty much what I have with my siblings; text messages that feel like requirements rather than genuine well wishes.

The holidays however are partly what I base my desires on, when it comes down to it. Not everyone has memories of happy holidays, but I luckily have a few of them. Although I did not get to spend every holiday with my grandparents, those were some of the happiest I remember. I had good ones with my mother but that was never a feeling of completeness as the father figure often changed from holiday to holiday. That does not give a child a feeling of security or warmth when one parent’s face changes all the time.

Holidays at my grandparent’s house consisted of a warm house, two grandparents still married to each other, lots of food, laughs in abundance, a comfortable bed, and an overall feeling of contentment. We siblings had a good time and it felt satisfying and full of love.

On other occasions (the normal day to day life) our house might not be warm because there wasn’t always money to pay the bills. My biological father was often only seen three times a year. Leftovers were the norm with spaghetti needing to last for days and the sauce always mixed in; never placed on top of the pasta. We did laugh and have good times, but mom was working seven days a week so fitting in the playful moments was far and few between. We moved a lot, so the feeling of contentment was never there as making and losing friends was a common thing.

Hence, my desire for a normal and caring relationship with my siblings falls short because it’s based, in part, on holidays that are long gone. I will add this admission, receiving text messages this last Thanksgiving from each of them with pictures of their dinner in the background, gave me a warm and fulfilled feeling. They are each working on strong relationships and a family bonding that I already have with my spouse and kids.

I try to remember the feeling from those messages when the ugly feeling of resentment hits and I wonder why they don’t care about me. Is that truly how they feel? I don’t know because neither would ever tell me that they don’t care. The problem is, I am an “actions are stronger than words” kind of person and if you tell me you care about me but then show me you don’t, I will assume you truly don’t. I’m not sure how else to take it.

When all is said and done, I may not be completely innocent here and I know it. In many relationships during my lifetime, I have let them fall to the wayside and walked away or ignored or forgotten about them. Those relationships were ones that were never strong or ultimately important to me, but they are still ones I lost or tossed out.

Perhaps I don’t want to be that tossed out person; the one that isn’t important. That’s a very depressing feeling, thinking you’re not important enough to another person to include in their life. Not important enough to hear about the pitfalls and the accomplishments of someone you care about and want to include in your life. It’s heartbreaking, actually.

A resolution to the internal dilemma I am experiencing regarding my siblings is invisible to me. I have tried what I know to try or perhaps what I am willing to try. Expressing my desire to hear from them seems unimportant to them and if that’s the case, what more is there to do?

Update:

After writing the above and setting the piece aside for a week or two, one of my brothers came to town to see my mother but she did not know what day he would arrive or when he would leave (and he did not call or text to tell me he would be here). On Saturday morning around 10am I received a voicemail from her stating he arrived the night before and had already left.

This is not the first time he has driven to town, visited with our mother, and snuck away without telling me. The sad part about this is that he lives in another state so probably won’t be back for several months.

How does one take this?

I know for certain that if I were to harass him about it, he would simply reiterate what he told our mother when she asked him to call me. He would say he just didn’t have the time to visit everyone and had to get back home because he had to work the next day (which is false since I know he does not work on Sunday).

Again, it is difficult to express what words mean between siblings when describing them to others who have not lived within those relationships. What he was truly saying is that he can only stand to spend a few hours around our mother and doesn’t want to deal with my questions and needs and whatever else he thinks I’ll suck out of his brain.

This leaves me with the internal strife many of us must face. Is it me or is it him? Which of us is truly the more unreasonable person and which of us is simply trying to keep sane?

One last thing for me to consider is the fact that, when our mother said he was coming to town, I partly hoped he would not contact me because there is bitterness for other reasons yet to be resolved. Thus, perhaps I really don’t want a relationship with that brother after all; maybe I just need to let it be what it is.

That just leaves me with one question. What about the other one?

This post was originally seen on Alexandria (aleksandreia.com).

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