Every Friday, Band Back Together runs an advice column, in which our (wise) readers help you answer the questions you need answered.
You can even do this anonymously.
Now let’s get our advice on:
I have a brother. A big brother.
In my mind’s eye, a big brother…they’re protective. They love their little sisters. It’s what I have strived for my entire life. I vividly remember the two times he played with me as a child. He is almost four years older than I am. So, maybe that makes sense.
When I was seventeen, I had a twenty-four year old boyfriend, who beat the hell out of me in a parking lot. My brother wanted to know “What did you do?”
A few months later, I was in a car accident on the way to Lollapalooza. Within ten minutes, the car (totaled), the cops and emergency was gone. And I was on the side of the road with a few friends, in a neighboring state. Our parents were out of town, though our grandmother lived with us. My brother was staying with her.
I called on a payphone, and was told he had to be work early, so….
I hitchhiked home in the back of a CRX hatchback.
When I found I was pregnant at nineteen, I asked him to come with me to tell our parents. He called me a whore and hung up on me.
On my wedding day, seven months pregnant in the middle of record-breaking heat, my ankles had swollen… “You look like the Michelin Man.”
His wedding “I know you don’t think I love you, but I do.”
After I had caught the other bridesmaids, sisters and friends of his wife, talking about the “fat, tattooed bridesmaid.”
I begged to babysit their children. I was the first to hold one of their twins, who were born at thirty weeks. I was only allowed three times, and it was made abundantly clear to me, I was their last choice.
So, I stopped.
It was clear there wasn’t anything there.
Ten years ago, ten days before Christmas, our father died. He was My Person. I adored him, though I clearly saw him for who he was, flaws and all. My mother is extraordinarily religious, and is much more concerned about the state of my soul than our relationship.
My brother and I get closer.
He tells our mother “I always thought I knew who she was, turns out I didn’t.”
His twins are a year younger than my youngest son, almost to the day. My son was never invited to a single birthday party. Arranging just ME paying for snowballs, at the place around the corner from their home, took a year and a half to arrange. They live fifteen minutes away from us.
I acknowledge I cannot change anyone else’s behavior. I text my nephews on their phones, and my little niece gets hers for Christmas this year.
Our father has been dead for ten years, this year. I am forty-three years old, as of last weekend. I’m not ready.
We do not have extended family. They are either dead, or halfway across the country.
We literally only have each other.
I moved Thanksgiving to my home, when it was both my brother’s and my family’s year to be with our in-laws. Our mother isn’t getting another one, you know?
I asked him if he wanted to come. He said it was his year at his in-laws. I responded it was mine as well, but with everything going on, maybe he could switch up years?
He didn’t even bother to respond.
I completely understand that I want more out of him, than he has to give. He is an amazing father and husband, and incredibly talented musician…but I, me and mine…we just aren’t on his radar. And I cannot MAKE that happen. I cannot make him want it. And while I thought I’d made peace with that….turns out, I’m just fucking pissed off. I pissed off that I have NEVER had a relationship with my only sibling, my only family, besides the one I made….and I also know I cannot change it.
But I am SO GODDAMN ANGRY.
Our only surviving parent is fucking dying, and you can’t even show up now?
I am having coffee with him next week, and I have nothing to say. Or entirely too much to say. I could really, REALLY use some advice.
Do I keep it light and ignore it? Or tackle it tactfully? Or just bulldoze? GAH!
Dude, I’ve got a similar situation with my own brother. We no longer speak and that’s by his design. There was a time I’d have done pretty much anything to keep him in my life, to prove my worth.
Turns out? I couldn’t. He enjoyed my ex-husband and was only really interested in me after I married Dave. When the divorce happened, he was so furious with me that he vowed never to speak to me.
Good luck, and keep me posted!
I wish I had more wisdom for you, but I think you are wasting your time going to coffee with this stranger who happens to have the same parents. You can’t force him to care and you will only end up disappointed and frustrated. I haven’t seen my sister since our Dad died almost 10 years ago now. My life is better since I have changed my focus from “What did I do wrong?” to accepting that it’s nothing I ever did or ever could.
If you do choose to keep that coffee date, tactful will never get through to him. Good luck!
I ended up cancelling. I don’t want to fight, let alone have to explain to him how his behavior and responses both hurt and anger me. He cares, but he doesn’t *care*, if that makes sense? Our mom is dying. Our dad is dead. I am enormously lucky enough to have a non-bio brother, my sweet Perry, and we have adopted each other. I may not have my bio brother, but I do have an amazing family that I’ve built. And that’s enough
Wow, you both make me think of my husband’s family. They shunned him when he stopped allowing his sister to run his life.
Sometimes the things that are the hardest to grasp are the best things for us. As hard as it feels, do you really want a relationship with someone who doesn’t even care to know who you are? It’s so hard, so painful, but on the other side of this is knowing that the people who are with you–your kids, husbands/boyfriends/whatevers, you close friends–are the people who truly matter.
I wish you luck in finding the point where you’re comfortable knowing that you don’t need someone who doesn’t know the value of having you in his life.
You have a family aside from him… Your children. My brother wants nothing to do with me and it hurts but I also realize that begging for him to come back into my life only opens me up for pain and heartache and emotional abuse.
Your family is your children. Make them your focus rather than the neglect and hateful person who has hurt you so many times.
You may never stop mourning the idea of a big brother that you craved but you can let go of what continues to exacerbate the wound.
I don’t think you should meet him for coffee. Let him ask to spend time with you. It may never happen, so be prepared for that possibility, but clearly his priorities lie elsewhere,and that has nothing to do with anything you’ve done.