“If you talk about something that happened to you when you were a child, your father or mother or brother or sister will have a different story. This is because we only share the frame of a dream. If two of you start talking about something that happened twenty years ago, it may sound as if you are talking about two different events….Who is right and who is wrong? Well, both of you are right according to your stories.”
—Don Miguel Ruiz, with Janet Mills, The Voice of Knowledge: A Practical Guide to Inner Peace, Amber Allen Publishing, 2004, p. 70
I HAD ONLY HAD ONE SIBLING, a younger brother, and I remember all the fun and crazy things we did as kids. But I also remember we were different; we had different personalities and attitudes—and he seemed to grow up quicker than I did. I ask myself if my depression was somehow exacerbated by how we related as brother or if in fact our relationship suffered because of my depression, because now we don’t communicate much.
I have a lot of respect for my little brother, as he has for me. As proud as I a for myself, I am as proud for him. It is an honor to have him as my brother. He will always be my little brother, and he knows that. Now we have gone our separate ways, and that is the way it should be. How an it be any other way?
I rarely hear from my brother now. We may talk once or twice a year. Should we talk more? I am not sure. We know that we are brother and always will be. If he needs anything, he will call; and I would not hesitate to call him. My mother wishes that we would communicate more. My response is that I am busy with my life, he is busy with his. He lives in Switzerland; I live in Texas. The invitation is open, but I have not been there to see him.
Gregg and I were typical brothers—we were just different. Sometimes, we seemed to be opposites. Perhaps, that is why we fought so much. However, when I listen to others talk about their experiences, I am not sure that the fighting was that much of a problem. Most of our bickering was over petty, childish things. Typically, we both needed attention, so we tattled on each other. When tattled on me, I used to get angry and, being the bigger kid, I would try to pop him. Countless times I would try to catch him and he would continue to taunt me. I would just get madder and eventually I would pop him. But there always had to be pay back; like his mother, he was an instigator.
Gregg was an easier child to deal with. Although he was stubborn, he did not need as much attention as I did at first. As we grew older, the nature of our relationship became more competitive, and some of this got personal. As the older child, I needed him to treat me with respect, whatever that meant. Rather than do that, he would instigate me. Sometime he would say something that would upset me and would start fighting. Since he was faster than I was, I had a hard time catching him.
Gregg and I were pretty good kids for the most part, but I was not as honest as he was. I had a tendency to lie at times, not so much in what I said but what I did not say. I was careful how I phrased my words so that my parents would not necessarily get the full truth. I was good at telling half-truths rather than outright lies.
In many ways, Gregg was more fearless that I was. When it came time to select a college, it seemed like he couldn’t wait to get away from home. I, on the other hand, was more fearful of leaving home. Plain and simple, I was scared about this thing called depression and whether or not it would rear its ugly head. I was concerned about my sanity. I had a lot of anxiety about losing control and going crazy. If the depression reared its ugly head, I did not want to be alone; I felt I needed my support system nearby. By going to college right away after high school, Gregg gained his independence faster than I did.
For a time I was jealous of my younger brother. It was clear that he had a purpose and a goal. I was not clear about my goal until later. I am the late bloomer. From high school, he was driven towards making a lot of money. He was able to reach out earlier than me and became comfortable with himself earlier in life than I did. I just knew what he wanted./ While there may have been jealousy and resentment, there was love and acceptance. My acceptance, while mired in depression, has been steadily growing, and, thankfully, in a very robust way.
I don’t believe my brother contributed to my depression We were typical brothers after all–weren’t we? We competed constantly for our parents’ attention. But I saw him emancipate himself quicker than I did. I saw him stand up for himself at an earlier age. I saw how he knew what was right to do while I was being dishonest. I saw the favor my parents bestowed on him. I didn’t see him feeling shameful or being guilty or downright lying. As we grew up he was giving me a better example than I was giving him. He didn’t prevent me from worrying and feeling isolated and being depressed. He is my brother. Can you image how your relationship with your brother or sister or siblings or your position in the family might have an affect on your mental or emotional well-being?