Saturday night, I cried.
I walked out onto a balcony and called Dan and cried deep, body-shaking sobs.
It takes a lot to reduce me to tears, and the fact that I am all but invisible to my family to whom I am related by blood did just that. It was incredibly hard to be around my family this weekend. It was incredibly difficult to watch other brothers and sisters interact with each other, act as though they actually like each other, talk to each other and whisper and laugh.
For me, it isn’t love, it’s duty. A duty to help my parents, a duty to help my brothers and sister, a duty to include them in my life. No matter how much I help them, it’s almost never reciprocated. I don’t know any other way to be, and that’s why I can’t seem to bring myself to walk away from them. I know that they way that we interact isn’t healthy, that if it were anyone else, I would tell them their family is toxic and to distance themselves. Of course, when it comes to taking my own advice, I’ve never been very good at it.
I don’t think that’s what family is supposed to be - duty over love. It’s an archaic concept, but one I can’t seem to shake. I’m stuck in a bear-trap of a family, and the only way for me to fully live a healthy, happy life is to cut off the limb before the gangrene infects the rest of me. Harsh, I know, but even in the best moments between us, there’s an underlying twinge of tension that never quite seems to go away. That’s where the backhanded compliments, the outright insults, the ‘sorry but I won’t come get you from the airport even though you do it for me’, the fervent pleas to borrow money even though the disaster is self-inflicted are borne; they come from this tension that we can’t seem to erase. The happy, fun memories have always seemed forced.
I know what a happy life looks like. It’s communication, and laughter, and support, and fights with apologies shortly thereafter, and reciprocation and love, even in the worst moments.
It’s an unsettling realization to suddenly understand that your family will never be like that.
I’m the oldest of 4 - me, my sister, and twin brothers. My mother had 4 kids under the age of 4, and went back to work as soon as the last of her maternity leave was up.
This left us with babysitters, and at one point, an Irish nanny named Joan (who, for some reason, Sunshine and I despised). I’m quite sure her husband was in the IRA, now that I reflect on it as an adult. That’s a story for another post, though.
Once I was old enough to not accidentally kill my siblings - so about age 9 or so - the babysitters went away and I was the after-school caretaker for my sister and brothers. This left me in a weird position, as I was now not only “big sister”, but I was also pseudo-mom. They no longer saw me as someone they could confide in or ask advice of, but as someone who was going to get them in trouble with Mom when she eventually came home.
Thus began the gradual development of the schism - the 3 of them vs me. As the oldest, I suppose it’s always been part of who I am to be responsible and cautious in my decision-making. I sort of fit naturally into the ‘adult’ role which I had been directed to fill.
My sister was the first one of the 4 of us to test the boundaries most parents set for their children. There were plenty of times throughout high school that she’d stumble in at all hours of the night, wasted out of her gourd, a feat I never attempted. My sister is of the ‘work hard, play harder’ mantra - she’ll drink you under the table, but she’ll also make Dean’s list every semester. She gets a particularly potent blend mother’s neuroses and my father’s ‘no fucks given’ attitude. She’s always been driven, swearing that she’ll be a PT for the Red Sox players one day, and here she is, out in California, makin’ it happen. I’m proud of her, but I don’t think she cares, because for as long as we’ve been alive, as long as our parents are happy with her, everything else is secondary. There’s no closeness, no confidence in our relationship - it’s more like acquaintance than best friend.
Twin 1 is really something. He’s been trouble since the day he learned how to walk, and I always thought that he and I were the closest, since he and I were also the ones who butted heads with our mother the most. It’s hard to feel close with him, though, when he takes no responsibility for any of his actions, and feels as though he deserves the world, without the work. He’s reckless and he knows exactly what buttons to push to be mean. He has no real concept of empathy or cooperation, and he’s a master manipulator - a lot of times, I fear that he’s one accident away from death or jail. He’s the ringleader of every bad decision that he and his twin have followed through on, and he leaves his twin to clean up the mess. The saddest part of this is that he’s an extraordinarily bright kid - he just doesn’t want to try - showing up is good enough.
Twin 2 is the most like me, but also the least like me. He couldn’t write a paper to save his life, but give him physics and calculus and he’ll talk circles around you. He also doesn’t know how not to be sad, and I acutely remember being that way. I think it’s an acquired skill, like swimming; you either figure out how to cope with the feelings, or you drown in them. Right now, he’s drowning, and while I worry, I know that he’s going to be okay, because I am. He’s momma’s baby - she coddles him almost too much, and I think he resents not being able to spread his wings, while I resent having been told to grow wings before I was fully developed. Two sides of the same coin.
It’s hard, as children and as young adults, to figure out the paths our lives will take, and I think that the fractured nature of my relationship with my siblings will heal over time. Or maybe it won’t - maybe Twin 1 will always be selfish, and maybe my sister will stay in California and gradually stop coming home for birthdays and holidays. I can hope for what may be and accept what will come.
Possibly THE worst picture of me taken but night out with the baby bro and I love him. Shit-eating grin because we’re having so much fun.
Dad is in TX, on FaceTime, watching the Patriots game.
Mom is waking him up because he’s snoring. (To be fair, the game IS kinda boring…)
They’re a really good couple. A stellar example of a healthy, stable, loving relationship.
Something to aspire to.
My brothers haven’t even come to say hello. I brought them food - they should be kissing my feet.
Speaking of brothers, the brother whose drugs my mother found was in fact selling them. He also declared that he thinks that we (my sister, his twin, and me) have hurt him, think he’s a big joke, and have no faith in him. We have no relationship and mean nothing to him.
It’s always everyone else - never him.
On second thought, I suppose I don’t really care if he knows I’m here. I’m pretty content with my wine and my Criminal Minds marathon.
This is my baby brother. The younger twin. He calls me Meggy. The only one allowed to do so. He’s my little Decky. The good twin. I love him madly and I’m glad he’s home.
Got to mom’s and she was on a tear about my brothers still not having jobs. Dad and I went to see his parents and have been driving about with the windows down, getting errands done. He bought me beer and we’re gonna go home to grill. And I don’t have work tomorrow.
I like this Sunday.