I feel like I have neglected this little place in my life lately. So many things going on, life getting in the way, travel, projects. I love it here and it usually isn’t until I return that I realize how much I have missed it. It is the place I come to share the parts of my life that give me joy, or inspiration, or to share things I think you too will appreciate. I try to keep it rather light- except for the times when I need you to really understand the weight that your support can carry; the lives you can help change. I don’t tend to do a lot of “venting” here, or divulging of private information- I feel like we all have enough of that in our “local” lives that we don’t need more drama coming from me. But I want to share something that I experienced a couple of weeks ago, and it may get a bit personal. There are no recipes, or inspiration in this post- only me, and some of the parts may not be all that pretty. Proceed with caution…
Last month #4 and I took a trip to Mexico to visit my brother and his wife. This brother, who is 3 1/2 years younger than I am, is the one I grew up with. He is the one that I knew from the moment that he was born, the one who’s hand I held and rubbed the back of when he was a toddler as it was so soft. It is strange, the things you remember the clearest. We argued – a lot – as children, but I don’t think I thought about it a lot growing up. What I do remember about our childhood is that I was “in charge” of him a lot when we were young. It was a time (the 70s) when kids came home from school alone and no one worried. A time when, come summer, we left the house in the morning to play in the neighborhood and didn’t return home until after a game of kick-the-can long after sunset. It was a different time. But what I remember about us- about my brother and I – was that because I was responsible for him I bossed him around. A lot. And I’m sure, as anyone would, he hated it. I won’t go into the whys or the whats of our childhood- suffice it to say that there are many things I had conveniently “forgotten” about that time. I know now that it was a survival tactic- but back then, it was just survival.
When I was 16 and my brother was 12 my mother moved back to Canada from the states. It was a sudden decision and one that we had no say in. As I was going into my junior year of high school I decided that I would not move to Canada with her. My brother, however, went. And that was the end of my life living with a little brother, the only brother I had ever known. (right now I am struggling for words to put here, because of all that I have been re-processing over the past two weeks, it has again suddenly hit me at how insane, how wrong and completely fucked up that is- being torn away from your little brother) I went to live with my dad, and continued on with school. It was a messed up time. I was an hormonal pissy teenage girl who was so angry that her mother had abandoned her, and I’m pretty sure I made life hell for my dad and step-mom. God bless them for not kicking me out over the two years that I was there.
For whatever reason, (and a clear sign of how messed up I was at the time) when I graduated school I decided it was a good idea for me to move to Canada to live with my mom rather than going to college. Two things- 1. I was all kinds of messed up at that point. I can’t accurately and fully convey the disaster that was my mental state in any way that will make you understand what a hot mess I was. and, 2. I don’t for one minute regret that decision, as through it I gained two incredible boys and, most likely two more little ones years later. So, off I went to Canada to start anew. I moved in with my mom, her boyfriend and my little brother where I stayed for – well, again, I have blocked much of that time so I can’t really tell you how long I was there. I’m pretty sure it was less than a year. Even though I lived with my little brother we didn’t bond through that time. I know he had his own demons to battle, and my heart breaks for that wasted time that we could have possibly found a way to connect and be each other’s ally through it all. However, that wasn’t the case and as soon as I was able to move out on my own I did just that.
Fast forward 24 years. Mid-winter break was coming up and my brother and his wife had moved to Mexico within the past year. I had probably seen them twice since their wedding nine years ago and hadn’t seen him more than two or three other times in those 24 years. We rarely talked and only sent the occasional message through facebook. And that was it- life as siblings. (again, a loss, as what the hell made me think that was okay???) But for some reason, the idea to visit them with #4 came and when I asked them what they thought they seemed to be excited at the possibility. So we booked tickets and planned to go. I had no idea what to expect, but knew that this may be my one chance to connect with two people whom I love and who are my family. But mostly I was just excited to see my little brother.
Sissy and her dad (whom I have adored since he stitched up #2 at their rehearsal dinner 9 years ago) picked us up from the airport and I was so excited to see them after a long day of travel with three flights and time at four different airports. My brother had dropped them off to meet us and then waited in the car (Mexican airport parking issues) until we were ready for him. When I saw him- well, he seemed so grown up. I know I had seen him a few years prior for a day but it really hit me when I saw him in Mexico. My little brother wasn’t little. And our life had passed us by- it hadn’t waited for things to be fixed, it just kept on moving along, me without a little brother. It was the first time my heart felt a tiny bit shattered by it all.
We arrived at their beautiful home, got the tour, met their incredibly well-trained dogs and then went for a little walk around the neighborhood. Finn and I were enthralled from the very first moment. The smell of the plumeria trees, the orange trees, the oranges! There were cactus everywhere, the air was warm, and – for the first time since considering going on this trip – I felt like this may have been a very good idea indeed. #4 was immediately smitten with my brother and from those first few minutes, the two of them were inseparable. It was amazing to watch, a bit emotional and completely joyous for me to see two of my very favorite people on the planet bond like that. I was grateful, and humbled that the man that I had loved when he was a child was now loving my child.
The entire week was a whirlwind of amazing destinations, quiet walks on beaches or through beautiful old towns with whitewashed adobe homes. It was incredible food, good wine (well, good wine one night- that second night, let’s just say someone “may” have purchased a bottle of wine not exactly meant for enjoying more than a very small glass, while someone else “may” have consumed most of the bottle herself) and deep, meaningful conversation. That conversation is what meant the most to me on the trip, and is also what has left me in a state of just left of crazy since I have returned home. One thing I do need to share, however, is that my sister-in-law may be one of the MOST insightful, understanding, kind and empathetic people on the planet. And I get to have her as a sister-in-law- although really, she is a sister that I have never had. Through her we were able to talk about things that were tough, and ugly – things that I had forgotten for so many years. You have to remember- my brother is the only person on the planet who really knows what my childhood was like. He is the only one I can talk to who actually “gets it” – who can relate, help me remember and understand my feelings. While we dealt with growing up differently, I think that he understands why I coped the way I did- even if, as a child, he hated me for it. He told me that, you know. That he hated me for most of his life. I cried. I cried because I was a child and I didn’t do anything to him that would make him hate me, and yet he did, because of the situation. And I don’t blame him- at all. I hated me. But we lost 40 years. FORTY FUCKING YEARS. And the worst part is that he is cool, and funny, and hella smart. And did I mention funny? And only NOW am I getting a chance to know that. And I hate that. And over the past four or five years I haven’t been much of a crier. I haven’t had any reason for tears. Sometimes I have to actually watch a sad movie if I know I need a good cry because I simply don’t have anything to cry about. But now- NOW I cry often. I get teary for all sorts of reason. I get teary when I see Tia and Tio (auntie and uncle in spanish- what #4 calls them) on video chat working with #4 on his spanish. I get teary knowing they are so far away and that I don’t even know when we will see them again. I get teary writing this post. I’m a damn faucet. But it’s good, it’s healing happening, and even though I’m sad and so damn angry, I’m also hopeful. And so damn grateful for that trip. And for them.
I guess the problem is, when I was young and my life consisted of my parents and my brother, that was all I knew. But as a mother- a person blessed to raise and guide and influence and love and cherish these four incredible boys- I am horribly saddened by my childhood. I simply hadn’t really thought about it before- which I know sounds ridiculous. But I had buried it and moved on, and considered myself all the better for doing so. But I wasn’t better- I was BURYING IT – and all that is is a festering wound that never heals and gets infected and one day that infection gets so bad that you have the choice of either treating it or letting it destroy you.
I’m starting therapy. I need it- I probably always have. I can’t do confrontation. At all. It terrifies me and makes me physically ill. I can’t even talk to someone who works for us if there is an issue that needs resolution for fear of someone getting upset with me. What the hell? So yes, therapy seems like a good idea. Because if you say something about me, endlessly, I won’t confront you- but talk smack about my kids and I will TAKE. YOU. DOWN. I need to take you down in defense of me. Because I’m worth it. We all are.
I’m sure there is so much more I wanted to tell you, but then again I really didn’t plan on telling you this much. But it’s healing, and it’s a start. And it’s time- I need to start.
Pretty pictures, no? It was outstanding- gorgeous in a tropical non-tourist blue water white buildings palm trees and cactus and lots of sunshine sort of way. And we loved it. Every single minute. (and the black dolphins! how can I forget #4 being in the water a mere 30 feed from black dolphins playing in the surf???)
(and I wish I could show you a photo of #4’s face when he sees photos of his Tio- there is such joy and excitement there, even though he misses him mucho. thank goodness for video chat…)