One thing you can count on about getting older is that things change, one-way or the other. The physical changes are the easy ones to notice but the changes I am thinking about right now are relationship changes.
I have a brother, John, who is about one and half years older than I. From the time we were very young, like from the time I was about 2 to around 12, we had a fairly good relationship, as relationship go when you’re kids. We got into all sorts of mischief together. See, we were basically on our own so the world was definitely our oyster. Then it all changed, and I
am sure, in this case, that it was not because of the passage of time. After all, we were still kids. Things went sour when our mother married again for the third time. She married a man who she thought was going to be a father to her three children. It didn’t turn out as she expected. I am not sure what exactly happened but things changed to where, for us kids anyway, it felt like we were living in a war zone.
I’ve seen some lifetime movies where families are going through problems and maybe the kids are taken and put in foster homes. In most of these movies, the kids always sort of stick together and help one another out, look out for each other. I don’t think that is the way it goes for everyone. At least that was not what it was like for my brother and I. In our case, it was everyone for his or herself. Each needed to do what was necessary to survive and not bring negative attention slamming down on our tender psyches.
As we grew older and moved into our own lives, we played the part of brother and sister, seeing each other occasionally, talking on the phone but the stage was set earlier in our life and our relationship was filled with the drama one sees on a soap opera. We could not carry on a simple conversation with out some explosion leaving one or the other with hurt feelings.
As you may know from my last post “Is it Destiny or Is it Memorex?”, that I went through quite a bit to change my thoughts, feelings, behaviors…my life. While I was going through my transformation, I was estranged from my family of origin, John included. This lasted 10 or more years.
A couple of years ago, John developed a serious medical condition and was hospitalized numerous times with a few operations. When I found out, I gave him a call. That call lead to more calls and eventually a new relationship formed. On the path to this new relationship, we discussed things from the past, sort of cleared the air. In the beginning, it was uncomfortable but now we talk, laugh; tell each other our hopes and dreams and fears. Considering our previous relationship this is a minor miracle.
Not to long ago, I had a situation that triggered me to go right back to my old ways of feeling and seeing the world. I was sure I was stupid beyond measure and people tolerated me at best. I was crying and feeling miserable. In the past, I would do something to make myself feel better, like burn relationships, run away, hide. At the time, I so wanted to do this. So, I called John.
“John, listen, I don’t want you to think that I don’t appreciate our relationship because I do. But I… What I mean to say is… Well, if I don’t call you it doesn’t mean, ah, it doesn’t mean I changed my mind. But…’ In between my stammering I would wipe my eyes, sniff trying to hold back my flowing tears.
“Tell me what happened?” From that very question it is clear, to me anyway, that this is without a doubt not the old John, which opened my floodgates. Now I sobbed openly telling him how I failed and made a fool of myself. Later he told me I was quite loud and had to hold the receiver from his ear.
“I feel like I am that little girl again and, well, you know.”
“Yeah, sometimes we think we have the past behind us and then something comes up and you feel it all over again. But it will get better…” and John went on to soothe and comfort me in away that only my brother, one who was in the same war zone I was could.
Finally after an hour or two and I was a bit calmer, I said, “What happened to you, John? You are amazing. There must be hope for the world if we can talk like this.” The healing we have done is one miracle. I am glad that I got older just to experience this huge, massive, healing in our family.
I originally started to write about my relationship with my brother because he said something really amazing about getting older and now, as seems to be the case with me, I’ve used up my time. Have no fear, I shall continue on with some more clearly remarkable Johnism’s and where his own healing journey took him. Consider it my tribute to the male crone, if such an animal exists.