When I think about my siblings, they are gone. I still have two brothers, but my oldest brother and my sister are not part of my life in any way. People don’t get it when you tell them that you don’t talk to two of your siblings. They think it means we don’t talk much. But no. I haven’t talked to my brother in at least 5 years. It’s been about 15 for my sister, with the exception of a few brief conversations, most of them arguments. I try not to think of them very much. But every now and then it strikes me how unnatural it is.
I won’t go into a play by play with either of them. The short version is that they are toxic. They burn every bridge, stab every back, and abuse every blessing unfortunate enough to get in the way. They stumble over themselves in an effort to hurt other people. And they are my brother and sister. They are my blood.
My existence is the only proof that my parents were married. They each brought 2 children into the family. My father’s sons are the brothers I don’t talk to nearly enough. But I can say that for most of my friends too. We get older and have less time in the present than we do time to regret it later. My old man always told me to keep peace with my family and friends because you never know how long you’ll have eachother. He had had a rift with his oldest sister over something he described as trivial. He always thought he would have time to make it right. She died too young at the hospital following a routine operation. It weighed on my father until the day that he died. The irony of my dad spending the last 10 years of his life warning me about our fragile grasp on existence, only to be robbed of a single goodbye himself is not lost on me.
For the most part, I am happy with the relationships in my life. I’d like to spend more time with my family and friends, but I don’t have any outstanding apologies to make. Not any that really matter. I’ve done shitty things to a few people over the years, but I don’t make it a habit. I don’t like carrying emotional debt. I try to apologize and move on. I say what needs to be said. It’s much easier to choose not to act like a dick in the first place. I’m not always successful in this endeavor, but I rarely intend to be an asshole. I don’t go out of my way to start problems. This is the main reason why I cut off contact with my sister – she seems to seek out drama. If she doesn’t find it, she creates it. I don’t think my brother tries to cause problems, he just does so without regret.
If my siblings were just fuck ups who were basically good people, I would feel differently. But that’s not the case. They are nasty and mean and have been for as long as I can remember. It was only in the last 15 years that I realized that not all siblings were abusive the way mine were. I thought that every brother and sister beat the shit out of you as often as possible. I remember telling stories about torturous sibling behavior, only to have people respond with shock. I always thought the antics were funny, in retrospect. But while saying that your siblings used to put you in a duffle bag and throw you down the wooden stairs is pretty hilarious, it’s only because I wasn’t killed. The disturbing thing? They were a good deal older than me. I’m not sure exactly how much anymore, at least 6 years. If they were doing this when I was 4 or 5, then they were both at the age of reason.
I always shrugged off my siblings’ abuse as “kids will be kids;” but even if that were true, the problem is that it never stopped. They grew out of physical violence and name calling, moving on to higher methods of humiliation and pain. I overlooked more things than I could mention. I don’t know if there was one final straw with either of them so much as systematic viciousness that one day became too much. It certainly wasn’t a rash decision. I tried. I did. It wasn’t easy saying “this person who I share DNA and an upbringing with is not redeemable.” There has been too much betrayal to allow them any trust, and too much mishandling to allow them any closer.
Still, sometimes I think of it. I find a picture of us as children and wonder if I have made the right call. We share so many memories. They were once my brother and sister. For a few years, my sister and I were very close, my brother and I seemed to have an understanding. I don’t know if they changed for a time, became better at hiding it, or if I just chose not to see it because I hoped so much that finally, we could get along. We could love eachother and be there the way brothers and sisters should. I wanted that so much. But in the end, when I weighed it all out, there was more bad than good. They’ve always been this way and though people grow and change, I think that we all have a permanent core. If there’s a way to fix that, I’d love to see it.
There is a part of me that longs for that sibling bond. There will always be an emptiness when I’m around a close family. I’ll be envious and then doubtful about the decisions I have made. Removing my siblings from my life was an act of self preservation. Yet I ask myself if it was the right thing to do because it doesn’t feel that way. People don’t understand the estrangement because they can’t imagine knowing that their brother or sister is out there in a world that doesn’t include them. Imagine your left arm has become gangrenous and removing it from your body is the only way to survive. So you cut it off, but your arm isn’t dead. It goes out into the world and has a job and children that you never meet. And here it was, this part of you, all of your life. But maybe it’s best to leave it be. That thing nearly killed you the first time.