Sunday, November 9, 2014

Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?

This Halloween wasn't all about my costume (although my costume was pretty awesome because I basically dressed up as  health insurance processing joke). It wasn't about the cool prizes I put into a draw for my colleagues (although those candy bars were pretty nifty). It wasn't even about the teensy chocolate bars (although I did learn that waiting until the last minute means all the best minis will be sold out by the time you get to the store).

This year, Halloween was about my younger brother getting on an airplane and flying to the United States of America for true love. He's moved down there to live, in wedded bliss, forever.

I'm so, so happy for him. They truly are very well-matched.

People keep asking me if I'll miss him. And the thing is, we're not really that close. Oh sure, we have inside jokes, and the intimacy that comes with growing up in the same home with the same people, and being able to blackmail one another should the need ever arise. But my brother and I grew up to be very, very different people. The truth is, if we weren't related, I doubt we'd want to be friends.

He can be quite cruel, abusive even, in ridiculing people whose beliefs are different than his -- and that, of course, includes me. He has a way of keeping on going when he's clearly gone too far. He makes rape jokes in front of me all the time, as if it will ever be funny, or I'll ever want to hear it. He has said some of the cruelest things I've ever heard from anyone in my life: he has a way of figuring out people's vulnerabilities and cutting right to the quick. He's not really that interested in people who aren't directly relevant to him -- even people he's known for years. The outcome of other people's lives is largely a matter of indifference. Things roll off him in a way I can't imagine, and he seems to have a lot more inner-peace than I do because of it. Or maybe it's emptiness. Sometimes I really envy him, but the truth is I wouldn't want to be that person if it came down to making a choice about it.

Will I miss him? I will and I won't, if that makes any sense. I do know that I spent the week in between his goodbye dinner and his Halloween departure eating every piece of food in sight. This is unusual for me because, prior to the recovery period from this major depression, I've never done anything like that. The whole binge-eating thing has always been kind of a mystery, because I don't like eating that much to begin with. Yet here I am, eating (terrifyingly) large amounts of food to comfort myself, feeling out-of-control, So there must be something going on here, something more powerful than I realized.

At first I thought it must be that I was feeling bad because I was going to miss him a lot and I didn't know how to express that kind of emotion. But I thought about it a lot, and I think I was wrong. I think I'm feeling jealous that he gets to escape our family and I don't. I'm still here, and he's left me alone to be responsible for my parents. It won't be easy to ever miss a holiday if I'm their only option. I've seen them go to my father's parents every year because they're all alone otherwise, and I'm afraid of that happening to me. I feel like he's dropped all the responsibility for them onto me, and I'm not the kind of person who easily says no, even when it means protecting myself. I guess I've always felt he was selfish for making me be responsible for my mother but then never protecting me from her, and that now he's done it again, but on a much larger scale.

I guess my next life-lesson project should be working on convincing myself that I'm not responsible for anyone else but me! And that maybe -- maybe -- this is the time in my life to put myself first even if that means letting people down, and feeling less-than-perfect, less-than-enough, and learning to be okay with that.