The one thing I am most grateful for is my brother: for the topsy-turvy, brawling, plucky, humorous, spirited, strong and loyal allies we are. As children, we were each other’s building blocks (literally), and as adults we are each other’s witnesses. It has been said that nothing shapes us greater than our family dynamics and sibling unit. I believe that I am the person I am today due to this relationship.
Growing up, my brother and I were oil and water swooshing around in a glass house. We had different means to a different end, orchestrated by a different value system. After all he was the one being groomed for a business degree, I was being groomed for finishing school. Maybe it was sibling rivalry, I just thought he was competitive? I once read that sibling rivalry is as inherent in nature as laying eggs. Sand sharks battle it out and eat their siblings in-utero. Nesting birds take down their nest-mates, so dramatically in eagles that biologist have deemed it the Cain and Abel syndrome. Undoubtedly, nature’s larger picture and pragmatism at work. I survived the push out of the nest, and it made me stronger. My brother and I learned autonomy through our differences and by recognizing our similarities, we embodied compassion for one another.
Later years brought with it tumultuous upheavel. Somewhere along the way my father fell in love with my mother’s sister. My parents divorced, Dad remarried and I got a “Maunt” (half aunt/half step-mother). Something even stranger though started to happened — no one talked about it.
No one was permitted to question Dad and Maunt’s perspective, no motley feelings allowed. “Make nice” came with the dinner invitations. We all became the stuffed hot peppers served on Maunt’s favorite turquoise glazed terra-cotta. My embarrassment ran deep and the family dysfunction continued to swell. My brother and I however had a different pact than what was unconsciously agreed to with them. We held space for each other. We compared notes and frustrations and empathized with each other’s complexes. We shared strength and hope, and rock star humor. Laughing with my brother is like drinking from the Holy Grail. Looking back now, this is where I developed a thirst for how the world heals.
We all have holes to climb out of, so what’s it going to take to feel better? Sometimes for me it’s the experience of being met where I’m at. If you’ve ever Googled, “My father married my mother’s sister and I feel shame,” not much comes up in the search engine. My brother and I are each other’s story-keepers and archives.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “relate” as to show or make a connection between two or more things.”Relate” in Latin is relates, the past participle of referee, which means to carry back. There are legends of old-school Shamans who come from the upper world to the lower world where the unhealed live. These Shamans come to carry back. Maybe siblings are a little piece of the everyday Shaman? Witnessing nature’s pragmatism from a birds eye view and helping us carry who we really are.
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