Day 3: Something you need to forgive yourself for.
I have a brother who is severely emotionally disabled. He acts about 6 years younger than he actually is, and he’s always been very bipolar and hyper. He was originally diagnosed with ADHD when we were young, and growing up with him was an absolute nightmare. Despite looking like a normal kid, he did not act like a normal kid.
He was smart, he was in the correct grade, and he didn’t look any different than the other boys his age. He was also always around. He always wanted to butt in and play with my friends (because he didn’t have many). He was incredibly obnoxious all the time, making random noises, running around, hitting me, breaking things, stealing my stuff, being completely uncontrollable, and never playing fair. He never picked up his stuff, always made messes that I ended up cleaning up (dishes were my chore, he never cleaned off his plates), and he never showered or had any sense of personal hygiene. A few times when he was incredibly out of control, he ran at me with a kitchen knife. As a result, I was absolutely horrible to him.
I was mean and nasty and pushed him away from me as hard as I could as often as I could. I never had a good relationship with him, I tried not to have any kind of relationship with him for that matter. I wanted nothing to do with him, because all he did was cause me grief and make me angry. Not to mention the fact that my mother constantly favored him and let him do what he wanted. Regardless of her valid excuses of “Your brother is different from you, he’s special. He has to follow different rules. He has different consequences. It’s not his fault,” all I saw was my mother letting my brother get away with everything without consequences, and all I felt was anger and resentment towards him. I told him I hated him, and I didn’t want to play with him, and he wasn’t allowed anywhere near me, and he wasn’t allowed to play with my friends. Whenever he pushed my buttons, I purposely pushed his back. We screamed at each other, we hit each other, and we played nasty pranks on each other (once I used his toothbrush to clean the sink- didn’t matter though, he never brushed his teeth anyway). Life was miserable. Then, as I got older I learned how to ignore him.
From college onward, we still fought, but we’d gotten into the habit of not talking at all. He hid in his room most of the time playing online, playing video games, and eating exorbitant amounts of food (especially the foods I liked, and thus they were always gone when I went to find them in the cupboard or fridge). I was busy with school, work, friends, relationships, and the part of the family I wanted to see and talk to, so I never saw him. I was angry that he’d done nothing since he graduated from high school. He had barely tried college, didn’t have a job, didn’t even try to get a job, didn’t help out around the house, didn’t do anything that wasn’t for his own personal benefit, and continued to make messes that he didn’t clean up. I had been working part time jobs since I was fifteen, felt that my education was one of the most important things to me, helped around the house, and was constantly trying to help others in some way. He was everything I disliked, everything I did not stand for, and he pissed me off. I wanted him to do something, do anything but sit around like a lump of vanity! I tried to be more adult about the way I talked to him, but I was still angry and mean.
Last Friday, I had the first real adult conversation with my brother. It was like talking to a complete stranger. I was amazed, I was completely unable to comprehend that the person I was talking to was my brother. Last March ( I think it was) he moved out of my parents house to Texas to live with his girlfriend he’d met online. Since then, he’s grow up considerably. He finally has a reason to grow up, to get a job, to shower. I could not be more proud of my brother than I was after I talked to him last Friday. I told him so too. I’ve apologized to my brother several times about our past, but I feel like I need to forgive myself and move forward to work on the relationship we can have now as adults. I was a kid, I was a teenager, I acted on impulse and emotions and not on logic. Despite how much crap he put me through, I know I put him through a lot too, and I’m not saying, “we’re even,” but it’s time for me to stop beating myself up about it and focus on the present rather than the past.